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 – ministries of service – 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 Lisa McGehee who is an ordained deacon currently serving as the Associate Minister at Good Shepherd United Methodist in Richmond, Virginia. Here are Lisa’s words:
The seed for my call was planted before I was born. My maternal grandmother was passionate about serving and caring for others – humans, animals, and creation. It was through her life and the way that my mother was raised that I became an advocate for those without a voice. Granny left a legacy filled with stories of providing for care for children. She opened the family home to her children’s friends giving them a warm meal, clothes to wear and a place to stay.
She cared equally for animals and there are many stories of my grandfather and my mother and her siblings coming into the kitchen to find “the box” that sat beside the wood burning stove. “The box” provided protection for an animal that was born the littlest or one that was injured. She raised it with care until it was ready to leave. Her love for creation was equal to the love she had for people and animals. She was a farmer and a gardener who never seemed to have a challenge for growing plants. I believe it was the care in which she planted the seed and tended the soil. She gave thanks and praise to God for all that she had and deeply desired to share it with others.
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 Joanna Dietz who is an ordained deacon currently serving as Minister of Mission and Service at Braddock Street United Methodist in Winchester, Virginia. Here are Joanna’s words:
As a third generation clergy person, I’ve never known life outside the United Methodist Church. But I never thought I’d be called to serve as an ordained minister! I began teaching elementary music right out of college, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. However, it seemed that something was missing.
One Sunday, a new program was announced that was designed to help elementary children grow in both personal and social holiness. Every time it was mentioned, I began to feel deeply emotional.
When I was I kid I would always sit down to “read the newspaper,” like I was a little man. But what I was really doing was going straight to the comics section. I couldn’t wait to see what Charlie Brown or Garfield was up to. Who doesn’t like the comics?
And who doesn’t like John Wesley?
Okay, well, maybe not as much as we like comics. But my buddy Charlie Baber has found a way to make the Wesley Brothers something we can’t wait to catch up on. Charlie does a weekly comic strip called Wesley Bros. He takes the historical figures of John and Charles Wesley, the famed founding brothers of the Methodist movement, and puts them in modern situations.