I have been collecting call stories from colleagues who are serving in diaconal ministries expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners. This week we hear from Rev. Amy Crisp, a deacon serving at Mt. Pisgah UMC in Richmond, Virginia. Here is Amy’s story in her own words:
It was summer 2000. I was fourteen years old and on my first mission trip when I received my call to ministry. I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with church or even much of a relationship with God, but I went on that trip to Mountain T.O.P. because I was excited to spend time with my friends and to nurture my newly developing faith.
Throughout the week, as we served some of the most impoverished people I had seen, sharing our faith together and working alongside one another, something kept tugging at my heart. I couldn’t quite explain it, but I felt like someone was trying to tell me something important about that experience. I spent the better part of the week trying to ignore that feeling, trying to brush it aside, because I wasn’t sure what to make of it. But that tugging, that nudging on my heart just wouldn’t go away.
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry has both of Margaret Ann Crain’s deacon books on sale.
Click here to learn more.
Both of these books are foundational to understanding the ministry of the deacon. A Deacon’s Heart helped shape my own call, and I have been handing out The United Methodist Deacon like candy to those who are expressing a call.
These are great resources, not just for those exploring a call, but for those who wish to learn more about the United Methodist Deacon. They can be helpful for the laity to understand the ministry of the deacon. It may be helpful for an SPRC with a new deacon on the church staff to read through together.
The Virginia Diaconate read The United Methodist Deacon together a few years ago, and Margaret Ann came led us in a retreat.
About 5 years ago I, along with our Senior Pastor and other church members, attended a graduation at a city school that is an alternative school. These students easily fall through the cracks in larger public schools. This school is designed to help students who come from broken homes, who are parents themselves, who have given up on their education.
Many of the students testified that they were the first in their family to receive a high school diploma. One 19-year-old shared how she has a six-year-old daughter, which resulted in her no longer attending classes. But she was inspired to go back and to get her degree.
Why were we there? Our church is entering into a partnership with this school to support their work. In the next year, the church will be sending volunteers to the school to tutor, to help students get jobs, and empower them to serve in their community. During the graduation service, there was a signing of the partnership agreement, and a ribbon cutting, to make it all official.
I got to cut the ribbon.
At the time the symbolism was lost on me. It was more of an “in-the-moment” kind of moment. It wasn’t really scripted. I, somewhat comically, ended up in the middle of the ribbon and the scissors just appeared in front of me. And so, I cut the ribbon.
I know that deacons are not the only ones who can cut ribbons. But looking back at that moment, it was a perfect symbol for the ministry of the deacon.
The deacon represents the connection between the church and the world, so often described as a bridge. I’m not really sure why this partnership signing had to be sealed with the cutting of a ribbon, but the deacon being able to do so symbolizes that connection between the church and the world.
This was originally published in the April 2016 issue of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate. The focus of this issue was the 20th Anniversary of the Order of Deacon.
A group of church leaders had gathered for a meeting. The district superintendent mentioned the possibility of hiring a deacon to help the congregation reach beyond the church walls. A woman sitting across the table looked back at the DS with a quizzical expression. “Wait,” she said, “What’s a deacon?”
It’s not the first time that question has been asked. For twenty years, the United Methodist Church has been struggling to articulate the answer, “What’s a deacon?”
In 2015 I was collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners. I was happy to meet and know the late Rev. Barbara Ward, who shared her call story. Along with being an ordained deacon and musician, Barbara was a published author. In this post you will hear from Barbara in her own words:
Standing before the Bishop to be ordained as one of the first Virginia Conference Deacons in Full Connection was, for me, the answer to an impossible dream.
I was just sixteen years old when I received a calling to ministry. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I sat alone in the choir loft of my church, waiting for others to arrive for the Youth Choir Rehearsal. I was gazing idly at the empty church balcony when I was drawn to what looked vaguely like a blue cloud.
In 2015 I was collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners. This post you will hear from Laura Douglass who is an ordained deacon currently serving as Minister of Music at Asbury United Methodist Church in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Here are Laura’s words:
The journey into music ministry began as a child surrounded by a loving Baptist family and lots of hymn singing. My early piano lessons did not bear much fruit until I discovered hymns, and it didn’t take long to figure out that I could delay washing dishes by practicing them immediately after dinner. Before age ten, hymns became a path to the Spirit in the midst of many emotions. I remember praying for my Methodist cousins who “hadn’t seen the light.”
As an undergraduate majoring in music education I concentrated on the piano but also studied voice, strings, and organ. During my final semester, I took lessons with the new organ instructor whose energy and support was to open unimagined doors.