Some time ago I flagged up Dr Andrew Orton’s much-needed, timely and valuable work about diaconal formation. This was presented to the Common Awards committee, then sent to Ministry Division, where it was very warmly received.
I’m now able to offer the whole study – please find it under the ‘Resources’ tab at the top of the page, or read it here: https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/47aac0be-5459-4e63-8a9a-fad8cb2b5714
To whet your appetite, he begins:
The implications of ‘distinctive diaconal’ vocations
for theological education within the Common Awards framework:
A case study of the Diocese of York, 2015-16
This report summarises a project which aimed to explore the implications of ‘distinctive diaconal’ vocations for theological education under the Common Awards framework. The project did this through a dialogical project that brings together partners involved in one pilot area (the Diocese of York). This allowed different perspectives on this ministry and their implications for the Common Awards curriculum to begin to be explored in dialogue with each other, starting within this geographical area.
“What might the experiences of distinctive deacons in dialogue with Theological Education Institutions serving the Diocese of York tell us about the implications of ‘distinctive diaconal’ vocations for theological education within the Common Awards framework?”
 The deacons consulted through this project preferred the term ‘vocational deacons’ to describe their permanent focus on diaconal ministry throughout their lives; the term ‘distinctive deacons’ is more prevalent in the wider literature, and was what was used in the bid when the project was initially designed. They are used synonymously throughout this report.
‘Deacons exist precisely because the entire Church is Deacon’ says Deacon Bill Ditewig in an article for OSV Weekly. Citing Pope Paul VI and John Paul II he goes on:
“The service of the deacon is the Church’s service sacramentalized. Yours is not just one ministry among others, but it is truly meant to be, as Paul VI described it, a “driving force” for the Church’s diakonia. You are meant to be living signs of the servanthood of Christ’s Church.”
‘Service is a task that falls upon every Christian as an immediate duty of a life in obedience to and imitation of Christ, and service obviously is also a primary and central task of bishops and priests. But, the deacon especially has this role, in virtue of his ordination, to be a representative person in the Church. Pope Paul VI spoke of this active symbolic character when he described the deacon as “the animator and promoter [instimulator] of the Church’s service or diakonia in local Christian communities, and as a sign or sacrament of the Lord Christ himself, who ‘came not to be served but to serve.’. . . At the same time, the deacon represents and promotes in the Church what the community of faith, as a whole and in all of its members, must be, namely, a community of service.’
So, Anglican Deacons, here’s our challenge for 2017:
how effectively are we animating and promoting the servant nature of the Church? The question is not about the various service ministries we are doing, but how well we have inspired others to their own participation in the diakonia of the Church. None of us was ordained to serve so that others would not have to! Our task is to empower, inspire and guide each other and all we serve to incarnate Christ the Servant of all.
Wow – how about this, fellow deacons, for making connections between our churches and our communities!
The numbers choosing to go ‘champing’, otherwise known as camping inside a church, have risen four fold.
As a quirky holiday alternative, campers are invited to spend the night inside a disused church.
The Churches Conservation Trust says the scheme saw 150 people take part in year one(2015) rising to 650 last year.
Speaking in the Times newspaper, a spokesperson for the Churches Conservation Trust said: “At first we thought it was completely mad.
“However, once we piloted the scheme we saw what a brilliant way it was to raise money and to get more visitors in.
“We didn’t want people to see our churches as museum pieces. Instead, we wanted them to be living vibrant places.”
Twelve churches will open their doors to the scheme between March and October this year.
Campers who take part are given no central heating or showers and prices range between £19 and £59.
God our Redeemer, through Jesus Christ you have assured your children of eternal life and in Baptism have made us one in him. Deliver us from the death of sin and raise us to new life in Christ; for he is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. Methodist Worship
(image by Daniel Bonnell)
It might have been just someone else’s story,
Some chosen people get a special king.
We leave them to their own peculiar glory,
We don’t belong, it doesn’t mean a thing.
But when these three arrive they bring us with them,
Gentiles like us, their wisdom might be ours;
A steady step that finds an inner rhythm,
A pilgrim’s eye that sees beyond the stars.
They did not know his name but still they sought him,
They came from otherwhere but still they found;
In temples they found those who sold and bought him,
But in the filthy stable, hallowed ground.
Their courage gives our questing hearts a voice
To seek, to find, to worship, to rejoice.
Malcolm Guite, from his book ‘Sounding the Seasons’ (Canterbury Press)
The Rt Rev Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, has posted these thoughts from the late great lamented Archbishop Michael Ramsey – simple, profound, difficult and beautiful – for the new year.
‘Very struck today by Five Helps for the New Year given one year by Bishop Michael Ramsey to his clergy
1. Thank God. Often and always. Thank him carefully and wonderingly for your continuing privileges and for every experience of his goodness. Thankfulness is a soil in which pride does not easily grow.
2. Take care about confession of your sins. As time passes the habit of being critical about people and things grows more than each of us realize. …[He then gently commends the practice of sacramental confession].
3. Be ready to accept humiliations. They can hurt terribly but they can help to keep you humble. [Whether trivial or big, accept them he says.] All these can be so many chances to be a little nearer to our Lord. There is nothing to fear, if you are near to the Lord and in his hands.
4. Do not worry about status. There is only one status that Our Lord bids us be concerned with, and that is our proximity to Him. “If a man serve me, let him follow me, and where I am there also shall my servant be”. (John 12:26) That is our status; to be near our Lord wherever He may ask us to go with him.
5. Use your sense of humour. Laugh at things, laugh at the absurdities of life, laugh at yourself.
Through the year people will thank God for you. And let the reason for their thankfulness be not just that you were a person whom they liked or loved but because you made God real to them.
A prayer by Pope John XXIII
“May He banish from the hearts of all men and women whatever might endanger peace.
May He transform them into witnesses of truth, justice and love.
May He enkindle the rulers of peoples so that in addition to their solicitude for the proper welfare of their citizens, they may guarantee and defend the great gift of peace.
May He enkindle the wills of all so that they may overcome the barriers that divide, cherish the bonds of mutual charity, understand others, and pardon those who have done them wrong.
May all peoples of the earth become as brothers and sisters, and may the most longed-for peace blossom forth and reign always among men and women.”
Pacem in Terris
Pope John XXIII, 4/11/63