The Designated Lay Ministry Program (DLM) is a three-year work-study program that trains lay people for paid, accountable ministry within The United Church of Canada.
Students come from across the country and are engaged in ministry in a variety of contexts. Most DLM students are second-career people who are now in a position to engage in further theological education and to continue to live out their call to ministry. Many students are in solo ministry in rural pastoral charges. Students have created a warm and welcoming community at the learning circles and support one another in between learning circles in a variety of ways.
Students direct their own learning in this adult education program. Each student develops her/his own learning goals for each learning circle and for their ministry learning site.
Students in the program take six intensive courses (learning circles) over three years. Learning circles are 10 days long and take place in March/April and October/November each year. New students are admitted for each learning circle (applications are due December 1 for a March/April circle and June 1 for an October/November circle).
Pre-circle assignments and reading starts about two months before a circle; post-circle assignments continue for about two months after a circle.
At the same time, students are in ministry learning sites (also called Supervised Ministry Education sites), working at least 50 per cent time, under supervision. This gives students the opportunity to apply and integrate theory, theology, and practical tips learned at the learning circles. These learning sites also allow students to reflect on how their learnings from the learning circles are supported, challenged, and/or changed by the practice of ministry. Ministry learning sites involve lay people of the congregation in a Lay Supervision Team (giving support and guidance to the student) and involve The Office of Vocation through an Educational Supervisor, a trained person who will supervise the student’s progress in the ministry learning site.