A poem for All Saints (click on the title if you would prefer to listen to the poet, Malcolm Guite, reading it)

and an icon of the Coptic martyrs murdered by Isis, for All Souls.

All Saints

Though Satan breaks our dark glass into shards

Each shard still shines with Christ’s reflected light,

It glances from the eyes, kindles the words

Of all his unknown saints. The dark is bright

With quiet lives and steady lights undimmed,

The witness of the ones we shunned and shamed.

Plain in our sight and far beyond our seeing

He weaves them with us in the web of being

They stand beside us even as we grieve,

The lone and left behind whom no one claimed,

Unnumbered multitudes, he lifts above

The shadow of the gibbet and the grave,

To triumph where all saints are known and named;

The gathered glories of His wounded love.

Malcolm Guite

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Some people have asked for these as you were not able to attend.  Here’s the full script, the powerpoint that goes with it, and the discussion questions we used in the afternoon:



script for York pp

york discussion questions

I’d be interested in your feedback! – either via the comments on this blog or send to


What’s your ‘mantra’? discussion


York’s brilliant DDO David Mann conducting the plenary

With thanks to Layla Ellis for these excellent photos.


We deacons often deplore the lack of interest, ignorance and indifference of our dioceses to the ministry of the diaconate.  It’s a constant frustration that we live with and battle with.  On Saturday at the  York conference, I said that it’s time to realise nobody is going to do things for us.  And York’s DDO David Mann reiterated, “we need to stop saying ‘we need’ … ‘they ought to’ …  and start saying ‘we can’, ‘we will'”.

Retired DDO Canon Deacon Ann Turner put it grandly.  ‘We deacons are the protagonists of our own calling’!

So how do we go about it?  Here are some starters for you:

1.  Respectfully challenge the negative narrative around us.

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Don’t let people get away with saying ‘what can’t you do?’  Say something like ‘I’d rather tell you  what I CAN do!’ – then make sure you have two or three clear positive points to make.  Chase those who flap a hand and announce that they don’t know who deacons are or how we’re different from other ministries.  Tell them!  A tip:  instead of saying ‘we can’t’ (preside at the Eucharist, pronounce absolution) say ‘we don’t’.  Try it out – it’s empowering!

2.  At parish level:  talk to your parish priest.  Ask if you can write a short article for the parish magazine about the diaconate.  Make sure you use accessible language.  Suggest you preach next Vocations Sunday, and major on the diaconate (what else?!)  Could you contribute to a study group?  If the parish is thinking about mission, offer to run a mission preparation course like this one written specially for deacons:

3.  At deanery level:   talk to your Area Dean.  Could you have a slot to talk about the diaconate at a future deanery chapter and/or synod?

At diocesan level:  how clear is your diocese about the distinctiveness of the  diaconate?  Can you put that distinctiveness into two or three pithy phrases?   Talk to your DDO.  Would he/she welcome a leaflet that explains our distinctiveness in clear and simple terms, which they could use at vocations days?  Draft something.  Try it out on people – especially  enquirers.  Do they understand what you’re saying?  (Don’t use ‘churchy’ language that an enquirer might not be familiar with).  Ask for feedback.  Send it to your DDO and ask for feedback from them too.  If you want to see a couple of leaflets in order to give you some ideas, check out Salisbury

and Exeter

4.    Discuss with your DDO the possibility of a page on the diocesan website dedicated to distinctive deacons.  Ask what information would be helpful to populate it.  Again, look at Salisbury

and compare it with Exeter

for ideas.  Make friends with the diocesan webmaster!

5.   Ask to see your director of training.  Find out what formation is in place specifically for deacons.  If there is nothing (normal!), be ready with some practical suggestions.  How could you support them? Can you contribute to a workshop on the diaconate?  Could you write something?  Could you mentor someone?    See the diaconal dispositions that Ministry Division is currently assessing

Then talk to your director of phase 2 training.  What is in place to help new deacon curates to reflect on their ministry?  Have a look at  Could you adapt it?

6.  With whom can you collaborate to pave the way for deacons?

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Who are the diocesan publicists?  Do they produce a newsletter?  Ask for some space in an upcoming issue to talk about what deacons are.  Chat to them about the type of thing they need, and the approach they have in mind.  Collaboration with others is in a deacon’s DNA!

7.  If social media scare you, it’s time to collar someone who could help you, or take a deep breath and decide you’re going to find out more about it and use it.  Are there other deacons in the diocese?  What about a Whatsapp group for you all to keep in touch with each other?  Does anyone have a list of the distinctive deacons?  (Bet they don’t!)  Can you pursue the information and compile one?  How about a Facebook page or group, just for deacons?  Celebrate your distinctiveness and your unity in Christ, and support each other in prayer.

It’s worth remembering that diocesan advisers are usually under huge pressure and struggle to find time for everything.  They may welcome an offer of help, and resources which you have drafted and are prepared to work on with their support.  Some will, and some won’t – but you won’t know unless you ask!

8.  And finally…  sing! –  the Aretha Franklin/Annie Lennox chorus ‘Sisters are doin’ it for themselves …’ but replace the word ‘sisters’ with ‘deacons’:

Deacons are doin’ it for themselves. 
Standin’ on their own two feet.
And ringin’ on their own bells.
Deacons are doin’ it for themselves.

OK, that one’s just for fun!  What other suggestions would you make?  Let me know via the comments or send them to





At the deacons’ conference yesterday in York, we talked at length about what it meant to be a ‘deacon in the community’ and the challenges of maintaining that focus when there’s a lot of pressure to be ‘inside the church’ instead.  Several people said that they did not consider getting people over the threshold and into the church building the be-all and end-all.  It’s the deacons’ focus to take the faith of the church outside the church, into the community.  Wherever that happens, some thought, it’s ‘church’.

With this in my mind, I was very struck to find that a friend posted this cartoon today on Facebook.

yr deacon shd be here comment195-20160511162445276_web




Deacon Rick Wagner, a Roman Catholic deacon in Indianapolis, posted this beautiful experience on his blog:

‘… I recall the most powerful experience I ever had while praying the rosary. My father-in-law, Joe, passed away eight years ago. He was a good man and is still missed by all. The following was written a few days prior to his death:

I took Tuesday afternoon off to go sit with Joe. Not only to spend time with him, but to give my wife and her mom and her sisters a chance to step away from it for a time.

Joe’s body was shutting down and was reacting with twitching and agitated involuntary movements. When it was just he and I in the room, I took out my rosary and began to pray. I prayed in a whisper, but audibly. Joe became visibly calmer. As I increased the volume of my prayer, he became calmer still. Finally, I moved my chair closer to Joe, leaned forward and simply prayed the rosary aloud. His body movements all but stopped, his breathing slowed and there was a sense of peace. I felt peaceful as well. For those fifteen minutes of prayer, Joe and I were at peace and fully felt the presence of Jesus.

Being part of such an intimate experience was powerful. The message was powerful as well…love of family, the power of prayer, the presence of Jesus in our lives and the gift of perspective…’

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(extract from his posting yesterday)




 Additional information


There is parking at St Edward’s Church

If people are going to travel by train, arrangements can be made for transfer to

Tadcaster Road from York station.

Please indicate when you book, if you would like picking up, telling us when your

train arrives, and we will then make arrangements for a pick up.




















Suggested Programme

9.30 Arrival – Coffee & biscuits

10.15 Welcome and opening prayers

Session 1

Coffee break

Session 2


12.30-13.30 Lunch


Session 3

Discussions Groups/Deacon stories


15.45 Tea and cake

16:00 Depart


Booking Form










Send to:

Charlotte Cranfield

12 Penny Lane



YO61 3RR

If you have any queries email Charlotte at