What's it like to be a deacon in the Church of England? Look no further!

Today’s Google Doodle honours Abdul Sattar Edhi, the “Angel of Mercy ” who founded the world’s largest volunteer ambulance network.  His own words are an inspiration!

CARDINAL Vincent Nichols has spoken out against the possibility of a female diaconate, voicing concerns that efforts to make women deacons could derail other attempts to find them leadership roles in the Church. Speaking in Belfast last weekend the cardinal said: “I value both the celibacy of the priesthood and the fact that it is restricted, as I would believe is the wish of the Lord, to men.”

His comments come after Pope Francis set up a commission of six men and six women to study the issue of women deacons last year.  In an interview with the Irish Catholic the cardinal stressed his support for women in leadership roles in the Church and said that “the vast majority of Catholic schools in England and Wales are led by women, as are so many organisations in the English Catholic Church … What I would fear is that the leadership of women would simply be channelled into the Order of Deacon.” He was in Belfast to deliver the St Brigid’s Day Lecture (see “Understanding Francis”, page 4).

However since then, the Tablet has run this article:

Women deacons a possibility says cardinal

24 February 2017 | by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

President of Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, thinks a women’s diaconate could happen.

According to the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the diaconate for women is a possibility.

Asked in a long interview for the German Church’s website katholisch.de on 24 February, what possibilities he saw for women in the Catholic Church, Ravasi replied, “The diaconate for women would, I think, be possible but it must of course, be discussed, as the historic tradition is very complex.”

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He thought the present fixation on women’s ordination somewhat “clerical”, he said. “Why don’t we start talking about women taking on other most important functions in the Church such as women administering parishes, directing church finances or architectural planning?”

Clearly there’s a long way to go and many hurdles to overcome, which is faintly surprising, given the historical evidence for women deacons in the early church … let’s keep praying.

(image from orthodoxdeaconess.org)


Incredible photos of the first consecration of deaconesses by the Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa a year ago.  Interesting that they arise out of a mission community, the Missionary Centre of Kolwezi.  The diaconate has so often come into its own in such a situation.

Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria performs first consecration of deaconesses

Consecration of deaconesses Patriarch of Alexandria

On the feast of the Saint and Great Martyr Theodore of Tyre, 17 February 2016, the day on which His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa celebrates his name day, a festive Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Holy Church of St Nicholas, within the Missionary Centre of Kolwezi.

Together with the Alexandrian Primate concelebrated Their Eminences Nicephorus, Metropolitan of Kinshasa, Innocent, Metropolitan of Burundi and Rwanda, and the local Metropolitan Meletios of Katanga, accompanied by the Clergy of the Hy Metropolis.

As the official site of the Patriarchate reports, His Beatitude the Patriarch spoke during his homily about the Great Martyr St Theodoros, emphasising the confession of martyrdom before the persecutors of faith and his love for Jesus Christ.

At the end of the Divine Liturgy the Primate of the Alexandrian Throne consecrated the Catechist elder Theano, one of the first members of the Missionary staff in Kolwezi, to “Deaconess of the Missions” of the Holy Metropolis of Katanga and read the prayer for one entering the “ecclesiastic ministry” for three Nuns and two Catechists, in order for them to assist the missionary effort of the Holy Metropolis, particularly in the Sacraments of Baptisms of adults and marriages, as well as in the Catechetical department of the local Church.

Note that it is the first time in the history of Missions in Africa that these consecrations have been done.

The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria restored the deaconess ministry during its working session held in November 2016.

Several holy women who fulfiled the deaconess ministry are enlisted in the Orthodox Calendar, among whom the most well known are St Tatiana (January 12), St Olympias (July 25), and St Foebe (September 3).


Deacon Lynne Chitty is a member of the Mill House Retreats Community, and is training for a marathon on behalf of Animals Asia.  Support her if you can!
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‘Marathon training is really kicking in now – the Tiverton canal is a beautiful place to run and I have now completed 105 km of my 1000km challenge for Animals Asia – thank you to everyone who has encouraged and supported me – it is hard work and my legs are protesting more and more but with so many inspirational stories of guts and courage around, I am determined to keep going xxx’

If you’d like to donate and encourage Lynne, she has a fundraising page for Animals Asia:  http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=lynnechitty

New charity to help churches work better in the community

Sat 18 Feb 2017

By Premier Journalist

A new charity has been launched to help churches respond to crises in their communities.

Hope Community was founded by pastor Jonny Gios and will advise churches across the North West of England.

Gios decided to set up the charity after witnessing the devastation of Storm Desmond in 2015.

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At the time, Gios was one of the key people in the town of Kendal to help respond to the aftermath and co-ordinate recovery programmes.

He was rewarded for his efforts with the Spirit of Cumbria award at Downing Street in 2016 and was also invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace.

The new charity is launched at Capernwray Hall in Kendall on Saturday. At least 150 are expected to attend the event.

The charity aims to help churches serve as a force for good at a local level.

Gois said: “We’re expectant and excited to serve local churches in our region to see how we can help them engage better in their communities.

“There are many needs in our communities and with the skills and volunteers the church has it can be an amazing resource to not only change people’s lives but also see transformed communities too.”

I wonder if any deacons in the north-west are involved with this charity and its plans?


.What is the diaconate and where is it going?.  is the question being asked by the Anglican Church of Canada.

‘Discrepancy in the practice and understanding of the diaconate among dioceses led the Faith, Worship, and Ministry Committee to form the Task Force on the Diaconate in 2014.  After a close study of existing resources, the task force released The Iona Report, which identifies knowledge and skill areas that can be adapted to local conditions while providing consistent guidelines in how deacons are selected, used, and understood across the Anglican Church of Canada.’

There’s a link to on their General Synod report page Iona Report


Here’s a taster:

“They’re(Deacons)  bringing the Good News—as all Christians should—but bringing the Good News outside of the doors of the church into the world … The deacon has to be someone who has the gifts to actually make some change, to get people together, to advocate, to collaborate, and so on.”

It’s always interesting and often helpful to see what other parts of the Anglican Communion are making of our mutual vocation.



DIAKONIA international conference Chicago 2017:  online registration is now open.



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