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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Sunday, May 06, 2007

What deacons do

The resurgence of deacons in the Episcopal Church - as a distinct order, as opposed to a transitional phase before priesthood - has sparked a great deal of discussion over the last 20 years.

'Why do we need a deacon' is not an uncommon question.

Going to the office for a deacon's ordination, a job description is encapsulated in the examination of the ordinand. The deacon is to study the Scriptures, make the love of Christ known by word and example wherever they may be. We work under the direction of the Bishop, and by our life and teaching are to show anyone we encounter that in serving the helpless, we serve Christ.

The other directive is to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns and hopes of the world: speak to the institutional church about the needs of both the people in the back rows and all those beyond the doors of the building. There are also times when the deacon must interpret 'churchese' to the masses.

Ideally, the deacon invites, distributes and dismisses. The whole model of setting and cleaning the table is about servanthood. A deacon encourages those in the congregation or wherever they are to do things for the love of God who loved them first and continues to love them.

While a parish priest has the responsibility to preside at most sacraments, the deacon assists. Just as often as not, the deacon will support the laity to do what they must do to fulfill their baptismal covenant, then stand back; to be visible when necessary and blend into the background other times.

It is important to read the Gospel with clarity and bring it to life. It is important to ask for input from the parish in writing the prayers of the people (or give the responsibility of writing the prayers to a team of parishioners who have that gift) for a specific occasion or Sunday service.

If one has the gift to do so, it can be inspirational to incorporate the sermon points in the dismissal and always send the people forth to do the work in the world that only they can do.

Why does the Church need deacons? Perhaps for prophesy, for the presence of one who has had training (and must continue to learn) from the Old and New Testaments, Preaching, Church History, Ethics, to be involved training in pastoral care and (more often than not) is not compensated for that work they do in a parish. Many are mothers, fathers, those retired from 'outside' jobs. When a deacon is in any setting, they can have the perspective of someone on either AND both sides of the altar rail.

Think..... there may be a deacon in the making in your midst. If so, let them know and let your priest know that you see that charism. A vocation is often visible first by others. If there is a vocation there, lift them up. Challenge them to think and pray about it. We need messengers of the Good News, prophets, assistance offered to clergy and the Church at large.

Do you - does the Church - need an order of deacons? Good question. Think about it.


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