Deacon’s Call: Heesung Hwang

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.  In this post, you will hear from Heesung Hwang who was recently ordained as a deacon. Here are Heesung’s words: 

My journey to ministry and theological study started from the conversation with my father when I was at the age of fourteen. He used to give me a ride to my school every morning and we shared lots of stories and thoughts. It was such enjoyable moments for both of us. One day, he talked about what he wanted to do in his life. He said he had wanted to set up an organization in order to help orphans because he also faced and experienced the misery of the Korean War and wanted to do something to improve the society as well as his own life.

However, it just did not happen in his weary life. In that morning, he said, “But I still want to do something for lonely children. Although I cannot afford to build an organization or an orphanage, I am about to start donating a small amount of money every month whether it is 5 dollars or 10 dollars.” Those statements just struck me. I said to my father as I got out of the car, “Dad, I will do it. If you don’t make it happen in your life, I will do it.”

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Follow Friday: Welsey Bros Concluded

Follow Friday

I have been sharing the story of Wesley Bros over the past two weeks. You may want to start with the first post if you haven’t already.

When he first started Charlie had no direction. He was inventing characters that were based on actual people and forming their personalities based on his own reading of history and what he thought might be funny. As a result, John Wesley is a little bit hipster, “because,” as Charlie says, “those guys are so persnickety and particular.” Charles Wesley, on the other hand, is a little bit more sloppy and fun because he is the creative poet.

"By George Part 4: Let Those Ears Raise Up"

“My first few strips tried to tell major Methodist storylines in one strip,” he recalls. The comic strips covered things that Charlie thought most Methodists would know or needed to know. This included the First, Second, and Third Rise of Methodism, the Aldersgate Experience, and the fire in the Wesley home.

And if you read Wesley Bros you will notice that Charlie runs a few series of extended plotlines. He knew when he started drawing that he wanted to do an extended series on Sophy Hopkey because well, there is all that ridiculousness. “It’s actually a lot easier for me,” Charlie says, “to do a long series like that because one idea flows out of the next.”

That may be why the George Whitefield series lasted for two months. “I thought the Whitefield series was important to tell because it conveys the beginning of field preaching and an evangelical revival, as well as an important split in early Methodism,” says Charlie. He goes on to say:

It’s filled with tons of theology, America’s first celebrity (George), and sermons and hymns were used to tear each other down.  That series really allowed me to go to creative places to visually tell stories in ways I had never thought of doing when I first started out.

Wesley was heavily influenced by so many historical figures, Charlie has made a point of casting some of those characters in the comic, putting them into dialogue and debate with Wesley. He does the same with those whom Wesley has influenced.

"95 Problems (but a wench ain't one)"

 

Charlie, by combining theology and humor, has made something that is commonly viewed as boring, approachable. And in the process, he is teaching and sharing the main tenants of our United Methodist tradition, as well as the theological truths of being a follower of Christ. The Wesley brothers have always served as models of what it looks like to thrive towards perfection. Anyone who has taught confirmation can tell you that it is often difficult to bring these two models of faithfulness, strugglers of faith, and missionaries to life. Charlie has found one of the most creative ways to do that.

So, if you’re still reading, you can stop now. Go check out Wesley Bros and laugh a little, ponder a little, and share with a friend.

What It Means to be a Deacon

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.

Read the complete article here.

 

Ministry of the Deacon

“From among the baptized, deacons are called by God to a lifetime of servant leadership, authorized by the Church, and ordained by a bishop.” ¶328, 2008 Book of Discipline

Once upon a time before one was ordained as an elder, he or she would be ordained as a deacon.  In this way, being ordained as a deacon was a “stepping stone” toward the goal of becoming an elder.

The 1996 General Conference changed that. Since the 1996 Book of Discipline, the Order of Deacon is a permanent order of persons ordained to a lifetime of ministry of Word and Service. The important part of the role of the deacon is that he/she is called to ministry in the community and within the congregation in a way that connects the two. The image most used to illustrate this calling is that of a bridge. The deacon builds a bridge between the community and the congregation. In this way, the two can be in ministry together.

Ministry of the Word includes teaching, preaching, and modeling the word of God.  In addition, Deacons assist the Elder in the administration of the sacraments, conduct marriages and funerals, and empowering disciples.  Ministry of Service includes servant leadership, serving the congregation and the community. Service is often seen in ministry with the poor, the sick, or the marginalized and involvement in mission trips. But it also involves equipping the congregation in interpreting the needs, concerns, and even the hopes of the world, often in their own community.

In contrast the Elder is called to Word, Sacrament, Order, and Service. You will notice that the differences are in a calling to Sacrament and Order. The Elder provides pastor leadership in ordering the life and ministry of the congregation. But, more on those differences later.