Recently I posted an article by Canon Deacon Michael Jackson, the longest-serving deacon in Canada, ahead of the international conference on the diaconate in Regina this May.

Methodist Deacon David Clark, who has done groundbreaking work on a radically-renewed vision for the diaconate, responded to Deacon Michael’s article:

David Clark

I am personally convinced that a renewed diaconate holds the key to the renewal of the church of the future – which I have called ‘the diaconal church’ (see my blog).  In short, the future for church and world must be ‘diaconal’.  This means all human collectives learning to take on the attributes of servants of the kingdom – or what I call ‘the kingdom community’ – if humankind is to survive and flourish.  But it also means the diaconate, as an order of ministry, moving into pole position as enablers and energisers of the laity, and of any fellow travellers, as servants of the kingdom in the world.  To free themselves for this vocation, a renewed diaconate can no longer allow itself to get bogged down in an anachronistic (even if still important in certain contexts) service-dominated ministry.  For a renewed diaconate to be liberated for its role as mission enablers, presbyters (priests), in their turn, need to re-focus on their primary, but too often neglected calling – enabling the gathered church to be transformed by and bear witness to what it means to be a kingdom community.

Find out more about David Clark’s vision on his blog

and his Amazon page:

Let us know what you think!




Malcolm Guite‘s poem connects up the ash that many Christians will receive today with the destruction of God’s earth, and calls for repentance.  You can also listen to the poem by clicking on the title.

Ash Wednesday

Receive this cross of ash upon your brow,
Brought from the burning of Palm Sunday’s cross.
The forests of the world are burning now
And you make late repentance for the loss.
But all the trees of God would clap their hands
The very stones themselves would shout and sing
If you could covenant to love these lands
And recognise in Christ their Lord and king.

He sees the slow destruction of those trees,
He weeps to see the ancient places burn,
And still you make what purchases you please,
And still to dust and ashes you return.
But Hope could rise from ashes even now
Beginning with this sign upon your brow.

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FIRST DEACON PODCAST: the deacon as angel

I am absolutely delighted  to offer our first-ever Deacon podcast!  Last weekend, Canon David Kennedy from Durham was main speaker at the deacons’ annual conference at Wydale Hall.  His three talks took the themes of the deacon as groundbreaker, as angel and as icon, and the second two talks were recorded.

Enjoy listening to his second talk here:  the deacon as angel:

His third talk, the deacon as icon, will be posted next week.

Many thanks to the Diocese of York which set this up and made it more widely available.



A multi-faith friendship group called, Women Together, has received a prestigious award from the Three Faiths Forum for London and the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London’s Council on Faith.

Founded by Rev Ann Norman, Erith Deanery Community Deacon and Associate Minister at Christ Church Erith (Bromley & Bexley), the group of Christian and Muslim Women who meet each month for coffee and a chat, received their award in recognition of their role in creating a sense of belonging, togetherness and inclusion among London’s diverse communities.

Ann said they were surprised and delighted to receive their award, and that she had been prompted to begin the group after following the story of the young girls from the East-End of London who ran away to join ISIS: “I just wanted to give their mothers a hug. I thought a friendship group could bring people together and break down barriers. This is really starting to happen, and it can only help to build healthy communities.”

The group is one primarily of support and friendship, not an Interfaith Forum, but in their conversations, Ann says they get to hear about the realities of being a woman of faith in Britain today: “Inter-faith Forums are about belief – Women Together is more about the cultural and social aspects of living out that faith in daily life.

“We hear about the pains and pleasures of our different communities, such as the kidnapping of children in Afghanistan, wearing the Hajib, fears for teenagers going to British universities, sickness, bullying at school, wedding customs, holidays, exam results and family parties – ordinary life!”

Ann explains that they were therefore keen to make sure they didn’t meet in a church or a mosque: “We meet as friends would normally meet, in pleasant surroundings like cafes.

“We were aware that many people often stay in their ethnic and religious groups, and so we felt it important to be seen to occupying a public space together. The only cost involved is that we each buy our own coffee!”

Membership of the group is by invitation, with most members inviting women from their own faith tradition. The women come from a number of Christian churches and denominations, as well as mosques and nationalities; including Afghani, Bangladeshi, Barbadian, British, Indian Jamaican, Nigerian, Pakistani and Sudanese.

In 2018 it is hoped that women from other faith communities will join in. Other groups are being planned starting with a Saturday Group.

The Three Faiths Forum award ceremony took place at the Royal Society of Medicine Headquarters in Greater London, where Ann was joined in receiving the award with fellow Women Together members, Sylvia Maclean and Khalida Shah.

With thanks to Deacon Ann Norman of Rochester diocese for this news.



In Eastern Syria, the Syriac Orthodox church of St Mary, in the city of Deir Ezzor, has held their first prayer service in six years.

3000 Christians are estimated to have lived in Deir Ezzor before the 2011 uprising but many fled.  People have gradually started returning as Syrian troops recapture the city, but it is slow progress as living conditions are difficult with destroyed buildings and temperamental access to electricity and water.

On Saturday the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius Aphrem II, led a prayer service in the damaged church, St Mary.

According to AFP, the St Mary church still showed signs of the conflict its congregation had experienced: “Stones, strips of wire, papers and remnants of rockets were strewn across the church floor, and bright sunlight streamed in from the blown-out windows.”

A Syriac Orthodox deacon censes

From Sarah Abdullah @sahouraxo


Image result for presentation of Christ


With certitude
Simeon opened
ancient arms
to infant light.
before the cross, the tomb
and the new life,
he knew
new life.
What depth
of faith he drew on,
turning illumined
towards deep night.

Denise Levertov (1923–1997)

image from National Catholic Register


Many thanks to diaconal ordinand Abi Davison (York) , who has created a new Facebook page for deacons:

Image may contain: one or more people and text

We are a dispersed group of Church of England Deacons who are looking to keep in touch, share resources and generally promote and support the growing vocation of Distinctive Deacons. All are welcome, especially those who are exploring their vocation and those who want to understand more about the distinctively Diaconal order of ministry in the CofE.

Please check it out!  She would welcome ideas and suggestions to make it as useful as possible.  Send yours to or message Abi on Facebook.



The Diaconate – Renewing an Ancient Ministry

The Revd Canon Michael Jackson

24 January 2018 9:25AM


Having been ordained in 1977, the Revd Canon Michael Jackson from the Diocese of Qu’Appelle is the longest serving deacon in the Anglican Church of Canada. In this blog, he explores the permanent diaconate.

Our liturgies invite us to pray for “all bishops, priests and deacons.” But what do most Anglicans and Episcopalians think of when they hear the word “deacon”? Very probably a person on their way to the priesthood, spending a few months or a year in a vaguely-defined but clearly secondary form of ordained ministry. Yet this is not what the order of deacons – the “diaconate” – was originally meant to be, nor what it is becoming again today.

When the three-fold ordained ministry emerged in the post-apostolic and early church, deacons were a “full and equal order,” along with priests and bishops. Deacons acted as agents for the bishop, especially in pastoral, charitable and administrative work and in the liturgy. There is considerable evidence that women were ordained deacons from the third through the seventh centuries.

But starting in the fourth century, the diaconate declined in importance. For a number of reasons, “sequential” ordination in three steps, deacon to priest and then in some cases to bishop, replaced the direct ordination to all three orders which had been the original practice. By the second millennium the diaconate ended up being an apprenticeship for the priesthood, what we now call the “transitional” diaconate. And so it stayed for the next thousand years – at least in the western Church, for the Orthodox east retained the permanent diaconate as well as the transitional variety.

The diaconate as a permanent, not transitional, form of ministry has rebounded in the past half-century in the western Church. This revival was due in large part to the Second Vatican Council, which reinstated the diaconate as a permanent vocation in the Roman Catholic Church, open to married men. Encouraged by several Lambeth Conferences, the Anglican Communion followed suit. The “permanent,” “vocational” or “distinctive” deacon is now a fact of life in both Communions. In 2017 it was estimated that there were 400 such deacons in the Anglican Church of Canada, 3,000 in the US-based Episcopal Church, and close to 20,000 in the American Roman Catholic Church. What form does this renewed diaconate take?

The biblical Greek word diakonia, from which we derive “diaconate” and “deacon,” is usually translated as “service.” Many deacons today have a ministry of direct service, pastoral, social or charitable in nature, outside their parish – as hospital or prison or institutional visitors, or working with the poor and the marginalised, with minority groups, with the disabled and with advocacy organisations. In parishes, deacons may undertake Christian education, youth work, home visiting, taking the reserved sacrament to shut-ins, seniors’ residences and care homes, and administrative, organisational, preaching and liturgical duties.

Some provinces of the Anglican Communion have been reticent about restoring the vocational diaconate. The most frequent objection is that ordained deacons clericalise lay ministry and in any case lay people can do anything that deacons can. Also, bishops and priests are already deacons, so a separate order is redundant.

But part from ignoring the historical roots of the diaconate, this approach negates the purpose of ordination. Deacons are officially commissioned to a leadership role by the Church, to which they make a lifetime commitment. A leading deacon in the US-based Episcopal Church, Susanne Watson Epting, has put it this way: “Even though ordained, [the deacon’s] primary identity remains baptismal and our ordination charges and vows serve only to expand, enhance, and urge us on in animating and exemplifying the diakonia to which all the baptised were called.” Experience with the renewed diaconate has amply fulfilled this assertion.

As for bishops and priests already being deacons, there are those, including myself, who turn the argument on its head. The Church should return to its original practice, end sequential ordination and abolish the transitional diaconate, which serves little purpose and inhibits the ministry of the vocational deacon. Food for thought!