What does it mean to be a deacon?
The diaconate is one of the three ordained ministries in the Episcopal Church. The diaconate is a full and equal clergy order. It is a unique calling, different from the call to become a priest.
Has anyone ever told you you’d make a good deacon or suggested that you think about the ministry of the vocational diaconate? Perhaps you’ve asked yourself – “I wonder what it would be like…Is God calling me?” The character of the deacon is twofold. The deacon’s ministry is both that of servant-leader and assistant, found both inside and outside of the church.
Through ordination, clergy are meant to be the bridge between the church and the world in servant ministry and leadership roles. Our calling is to help the poor, the sick and dying, the marginalized, the homeless, and the forgotten. This sense of calling may be seen in hospital and prison ministry, ministry to the elderly, poor, dying, hopeless, or those with mental illness, or advocacy for social justice and change. Deacons can also serve in diocesan or church administrative positions.
Those discerning the diaconate often feel, early on, the call to one of the servant ministries. Deacons take the command at their ordination to interpret the world’s needs to the church seriously.
Deacons are also found inside the church at the altar, assisting the priest and bishop in public worship. The ones with the stoles fastened on our right side, a symbol of the servanthood and ministry of Christ–those are deacons! The deacon proclaims the gospel, sets the table for the eucharist, and gives the dismissal. We may also prepare and bid the prayers of the people, bid the confession, assist with distribution of communion, and preach on occasion. We may have other mutually agreed-upon duties such as being in charge of Eucharistic Visitors and teaching.
“God knows me well and leads me to sacrificial and sacramental service. My diaconal story ranges from working closely with homeless people to serving as a member of the diocesan leadership team to currently training Eucharistic Visitors. I look forward to discerning what God has in store for me in the next chapter of my ministry,” said The Rev. Canon Nancy R. Holland, long-time deacon.
If you think you may be hearing a call or have questions about the diaconate, you may contact The Ven. Cindy Campos, Archdeacon of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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