Deacons Cut Ribbons

imagesAbout 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.

Sunday Reflection: Serving in Back

Written from a Roman Catholic perspective, not that different from the United Methodist Deacon.

Deacons Today: Servants in a Servant Church

This is a simple personalOrdination, March 25, 1990 reflection.  No big agenda, no big point to make.

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.

eucharistic ministerAt 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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St. Lawrence and the Ministry of Deacons

Seeds of Faith

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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Clergy Orders in the UMC

A great post outlining the orders of clergy in the United Methodist Church.

One Step at a Time

Ever since I went public a few weeks ago with the news that I would be returning to school in the fall at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, I’ve been getting a lot of questions.  The conversation usually goes like this:

  • Q: “What are you going to be studying?”
  • A: “I’m working on a Masters in Spiritual Formation and Evangelism.”
  • Q: “Oh…what are you going to do with that?”
  • A: “I’m planning on being ordained as a deacon in the United Methodist Church.”
  • Q: “Oh…”

This is where the conversation goes one of three ways.

  1. (People who either aren’t really interested, or who aren’t United Methodist): glazed over look. “Good luck with that.”
  2. “What does a deacon do?”
  3. “We have deacons in the United Methodist Church?”

I had one well-meaning person ask me the other day if I would be able to “upgrade” my ordination to an elder in the future…

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