Postulancy Update: Emily Austin

As many of you know, after a nearly-four-year period of discernment, I applied to the Diocese of Olympia for postulancy to the diaconate and received a letter of acceptance from the bishop in January. I’d like to share what I’ve been up to since, what’s ahead, and what I’ve been learning about the order of deacons.

The Rt. Rev. Gregory Rickel, The Ven. Gen Grewell, Emily Austin, the Rev. Fr. Jedediah Fox

Here’s a few FAQs on Postulancy

What is postulancy? To quote Bishop Greg Rickel of the Diocese of Olympia,

Postulancy is a time of continuing discernment, beginning formation, education towards ordination to the diaconate, and letting go of some lay ministries. We hope you will continue to integrate your heart, mind and soul in the work you are doing daily.

I also hope to use this time to grow in my understanding of God and myself.

Formal schooling will start in the fall at the brand new Iona Olympia School for a series of nine weekends each year for three years. The school is open to postulants and lay ministers. I’m looking forward to jumping in and getting started. While waiting for school to start, I’m plenty occupied studying for the Bible Content exam (the first of five exams) with a completion deadline of July 1.

Over the past year I’ve been attending several required formation weekends. The next one is May 6 to 8. The topics are the Deacon’s Role in Liturgy and an Iona school orientation.

Another component of postulancy is field education at a new congregation. This is a hard part (understatement!) of the process, as Redeemer has been a beloved, transformational spiritual home to me for 13 years. It is the only home congregation my 16 year-old son remembers. I will be attending a new church likely sometime this fall. Where and when will be determined in the next few months.

Will you be applying for priesthood?

No, I have no plans for priesthood. I applied to the “vocational” diaconate, not the “transitional” diaconate. Confusion between the two is not uncommon, since all Episcopal priests are first ordained as deacons. It’s a required step prior to ordination to the priesthood. It is called “transitional” since the intent is to transition from deacon to priest. “Vocationals” experience a calling specifically to the work of deacons and have no plans for the priesthood.

Another difference is that vocational deacons are non-stipendiary. I’ve been asked when I’ll be leaving my current job, but I have no plans to cut back there.

Emily Austin and the Rev. Mark Blindheim

What do deacons do?

According to the Book of Common Prayer, the diaconate is the following:

A ministry of servanthood directly under your bishop. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are to serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely. (page 543)

ALL baptized Christians are sent into the world to serve others, proclaim God’s vision of justice, and bear the Good News of Jesus Christ. So deacons are not unique in that regard. Deacons are merely Christians who are under oversight of the bishop and set apart by the church to work in service, particularly with the poor and marginalized.


I recently came across this quote by Stanley Hauerwas:

Christians ought to aspire not simply to win intellectual arguments but rather to live lives and to die deaths that make no sense if crucified Jesus has not been raised from the dead.

Our commitment to the Christian life makes little sense in our world. Pope Francis talks often about culture and the “globalization of indifference.”  But our commitment makes sense in light of the resurrection.

My faith and hope are in the words of Jesus: those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. I’m finding myself called to translate my thirst for righteousness into action and exploring whether or not that action will be within the order of the diaconate. I’ve felt waves of “overwhelm” at times. But allowing those waves to carry me away from the journey leads to a kind of instilled heartsickness I’ve found I’d rather avoid.

So, I prayerfully place my infant postulancy in God’s hands and will ready myself for what’s ahead to the best of my abilities. I’m grateful for the opportunity and especially for the support of Church of Redeemer. Your commitments to living out your baptismal covenants continue to teach and inspire.

…to enter more deeply through our own heart into the heart of God, we will also be freer to be with others in their pain and to discover with them the presence of the healing God in our midst.Thus, the discipline of the heart leads us on the path of compassion; that is, the downward path, which is the narrow road that leads to life. (The Selfless Way of Christ, Henri Nouwen

Emily Austin and Fr. Jed Fox

Church of the Redeemer

Community life at Redeemer centers on worship in the Episcopal traditionArt and music vitally deepen this worship. Our faith expresses itself with service to people, locally to internationally.

Church of the Redeemer is at 6210 Northeast 181st Street in Kenmore, Washington. We are a short distance north of Bothell Way, near the Burke-Gilman Trail. The entrance looks like a gravel driveway. The campus is larger on the inside than it is on the outside.

The Episcopal Church welcomes you.