A very thoughtful reflection on the role of deacon and why deacons should be included on General Conference delegations.
The book of Acts tells the stories of how the early church sought to understand its purpose, clarify its audience, and organize people to carry on the work and message of Jesus. From the dozen closest followers of Jesus to the growing movement of thousands of Jewish and Gentile believers, the first-century church soon realized that they needed leadership systems to ensure that there was room at the table – literally and figuratively – for all people. Early in that work, seven community leaders who were “full of the Spirit and of wisdom” were identified to coordinate food distribution to those in need and to make sure it was carried out in a just and inclusive way (Acts 6:1-6). These seven because known as the first deacons, from the Greek word diakonos, meaning servant.
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I’ve been collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners. You read these call stories on my Ponderings blog.
A post I wrote for my blog “Ponderings” about the role of the ordained deacon and servant ministry.
Written from a Roman Catholic perspective, not that different from the United Methodist Deacon.
I love being a deacon for many reasons. But one of the things that is always a blessing is something I’ve been doing most of my adult life, even before being ordained a deacon: distributing Communion at Mass. It is one of the most profound and moving experiences of ministry.
At my current parish we have been encountering growing numbers of parishioners over the last couple of years, so much so that we’ve had to adapt our normal arrangements for communion to meet this need. At our most highly attended Masses, after I distribute the Precious Blood to other communion ministers, I take a ciborium and head to our “cry room”. Then I walk to the back of the Church and up the stairs to the choir loft, which is actually used for overflow seating (the…
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The North Georgia Conference recently featured Deacon Clara Welch, who is a writer.
Deacon Clara Welch was always told in school that she flourished in writing. However, when first ordained, “writer” was not one of the many hats she wore.
Before being appointed to Georgia, Welch served in Maryland, South Carolina, and also taught music at United Methodist Red Bird Mission in Kentucky.
In 2008, two years after Welch arrived at Oak Grove UMC of Decatur, her mother passed away; her father, a former United Methodist pastor, moved from Alabama to live closer to his daughter. Shortly following, Welch’s position was let go due to the economic decline.
The deacon saw the detriment as a door to opportunities. To pursue a writing career would not only allow her to use some of her favorite skills, but also she would have a work schedule that would allow her to spend more time with her father.
The original and full article can be found here.
Rev. April Casperson spoke at the Methodist Theological School of Ohio in October 2013 about the ministry and role of the deacon. She has done a great job of explaining some of the differences between elders and deacons.
From her talk:
In the United Methodist Church, some people are called to ordination – a set-apart life of ministry and service. There are two orders within ordained clergy – elders and deacons.
Elders are ordained to Word, Order (the ordering of the Church), Sacrament and Service. Elders are primarily pastors; while elders can and do serve in extension ministries outside of the local church, an elder’s identity is rooted in the pastoral role, and being a pastor.
Deacons are ordained to Word, Service, Compassion and Justice. Deacons are not pastors – we are ministers. We can certainly be pastoral! But our identity is based in being a minister rather than being a pastor.
Deacons are called to specialized ministry. We have a specific area and skill in which we connect the people of God, the church and the world with compassion and justice. This is a challenge and an opportunity at the same time.
Although many of us are accustomed to deacons serving in our communities, a permanent diaconate is a very new experience for those of us in the Western Church. Despite references to deacons in the Christian scriptures, and the profound witness of the deacons of the early Church such as St. Lawrence whom we remember today, men called to ordained ministry were often prepared for the priesthood and not for the diaconate. One was ordained deacon for a transitional period of time, typically six months to a year before ordination to the priesthood.
In the 20th century leading scholars and clergy began to reflect more deeply on the ministry of deacon. While there was a ceremonial presence of a deacon and subdeacon at solemn masses, those ministerial roles were fulfilled by priests. Rare was the occasion that a parish or religious community would have a man serving as a deacon.
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Deacon stoles with the United Methodist deacon emblem are now available through Cokesbury. There are liturgical options. Click here to see.
Here is a new video produced by the Board of Ordained Ministry of the Virginia Conference. It was premiered at our Annual Conference a few weeks ago.