You may have heard the announcement that three members of the Restoration family will be ordained as deacons in the Anglican Church this Saturday in Austin. This is exciting news for us and for them but it also raises a question: What is a deacon?
Different denominations use the title deacon to describe various positions a person may hold in a local congregation. In some traditions, a deacon is a lay person who is a member of a governing body but in the Anglican tradition it is an ordained role that requires discernment of a calling to ministry and years of preparation. The English word deacon comes from a Greek word in the New Testament meaning servant or minister. A deacon is responsible for assisting a priest during worship and for caring for people in the church congregation and in the community.
A candidate who believes they are called to be a deacon studies the Bible, the history of the Church, and the doctrine and liturgy of the Anglican Church. He or she also goes through a lengthy process of personal discernment and examination by spiritual leaders to determine that he or she is sound in faith, emotionally and relationally stable, and prepared to lead others in the church.
Once a person becomes a deacon they enter into one of the three ordained roles in the Anglican Church: deacon, priest, and bishop. A person may be ordained as a vocational deacon or as a transitional deacon, which means that after a period of about a year he or she may be ordained to a second role, as a priest who is responsible for the pastoral leadership of a congregation. The third role is that of a bishop who is the leader of a diocese of churches (something like a close network of affiliated churches) and a pastor to the priests and deacons in his diocese.
At the ordination service our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Todd Hunter, will speak words similar to these over the candidates:
God now calls you to a special ministry of servanthood directly under your bishop. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are to serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely. As a deacon in the Church, you are to study the Holy Scriptures, to seek nourishment from them, and to model your life upon them. You are to make Christ and his redemptive love known, by word and example, to those among whom you live, and work, and worship. You are to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world. You are to assist the bishop and priests in public worship and in the ministration of God’s Word and Sacraments, and you are to carry out other duties assigned to you from time to time. At all times, your life and teaching are to show Christ’s people that in serving the helpless they are serving Christ himself.
-The Book of Common Prayer
I invite you to pray for Karen Giardina, Nobie Hendricks, and Kolby Kerr as they accept this call to ministry and are ordained this Saturday at 6pm at Christ Church in Austin.
And celebrate with us the following weekend on Sunday, November 22 following the worship service at a reception for our new deacons.