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Courses in the School of Lay Ministry are for any person who wants a more complete, more well rounded faith experience.  It is a faith formation resource. It’s for all levels of faith formation…from knowing little to knowing a lot…it doesn’t matter.

Students are committed to serve through the Church in a variety of ways: teaching, administration, liturgical leadership, action for social justice, evangelism, visitation of the sick, community organization, youth work, ministry among the elderly, and the like.

Originally begun as diakonia™, the first diakonia class in Florida was organized under the auspices of the Florid-Bahamas Synod with classes beginning in September of 2006 at four locations:  Brandon, Jacksonville, Ormond Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. The first Graduation Eucharist was held at Apostles Lutheran Church in Brandon on May 31st, 2008.The presenter and homilist for the graduation was the Rev. Stephen Bouman, the founder of diakonia which began in Queens, NY in 1977.  Also in attendance at that first Graduation Eucharist was Florida-Bahamas Bishop Edward Benoway and future Bishop, then Assistant to the Bishop and Bishop’s representative to the diakonia Steering Committee, the Rev. Robert Schafer.  The 37 members of that first graduating class of diakonia was the largest graduating class in Florida and the entire ELCA.

Between 2008 – 2020, diakonia classes were also offered in Fort Myers, Tampa, Sebastian, Miami and Winter Park, producing over 200 diakonia graduates.  Of these, seven have continued on into ordained ministry.

The Covid epidemic of 2019 – 2022 provided the perfect storm for re-vamping the entire program to provide multiple ways to meet and study as well as greater flexibility for class schedules. When the re-vamped program launched in 2021, it was re-named the School of Lay Ministry and now offers in person classes, self-study and various hybrids as well.  Students may pick a single course option, a 6 course Faith Formation Path, or a 12 course Faith and Service Path. In addition, Continuing Education courses have been added to the curriculum and courses are available for use by Bible Study leaders, Sunday School teachers and other small groups.

Are you one of our next students?

For more information go to the School of Lay Ministry’s website:


Questions? Contact: Michele Hilton |