MY CALL TO THE DIACONATE: Deacon Corinne Smith

Deacon Corinne Smith (diocese of Portsmouth) kindly sent these images of her serving as a deacon at the Petertide ordination in the cathedral this weekend, and the five-minute talk she gave at a DDO lunch afterwards – which clarified the diaconate for some, I gather! Many thanks, Corinne!

Why what I do is a vocation and how I serve God through it

1. All ministry comes from Christ. Baptism gives us the mandate to share the Good News, according to our circumstances and gifting. My Confirmation as a young adult was a big deal, because it made me take my baptismal vows very seriously.

2. I have always been someone who feels comfortable on the boundaries of church, and for years before I was ordained had a passion for helping the church look outwards and to get out of the building!

3. My original call to ordination, which came in my mid-20s, was to be a deaconess, when I was living in deprived area of South London and, as a member of my local church, became involved in supporting young mums and their families. Circumstances meant that I couldn’t act on it though, until I was in my early 40s. It came about when, due to a number of factors, other people, including the priest who had prepared me for confirmation, and my parish priest, both asked whether I’d thought about ordination; and I discovered that my sense of call to ministry was still there, as a deacon.

4. I felt called to be a deacon, because I believed it would enable me to more fully represent the serving aspect of Christ’s ministry, as someone who felt at home in the public eye; and comfortable  in playing a role in the liturgy and the life of the church, but whose primary focus of ministry was outward-facing.

5. As I proclaim the Gospel in church, and also in my preaching, it is a reminder that the role of the Deacon is to equip the church to live in the light of the gospel and to be agents of God’s love, specially to those on the margins of church and society. My ministry is firmly rooted in the church and has a circularity to it. It starts at the altar, goes out into the community and returns to the altar. “Go in peace…”

6. Outside the liturgy, it finds expression primarily in ministry to the sick, and to frail older people. I was a hospital/ hospice chaplain for many years; but it also includes a teaching role – baptism/ confirmation prep; teaching on ministerial training courses SAOMC/ Chichester Deacons’ Formation Programme, SCOP. Now I’m back in parish ministry I’m deacon to the IOW deanery, helping to strengthen links between the hospital and the churches and developing a community chaplaincy network across the island and in training pastoral assistants.

7. I don’t feel called to Eucharistic presidency, and never have! What difference would it make? It would be the most disabling thing you could do to me, because it would inhibit my ability to be in that liminal place on the threshold between the church and the wider community, exercising a “Kingdom” model of mission.

Rev Deacon Corinne Smith

For a vocations lunch

Isle of Wight

Diocese of Portsmouth

June 2019

4 thoughts on “MY CALL TO THE DIACONATE: Deacon Corinne Smith

  1. fellowsroad

    Thank you Corinee for this honest and open view of your diaconal calling. I respond very warmly to it. I especially like your comments under section 5 which I agree is very much the heart of what deacons are about. And I like your commitment to the role of making creative connections – here between hospital and church – mentioned in section 6. Maybe strangely, as a Methodist deacon, where I would ask you to reflect a little further is on your rhetorical question – expecting the answer ‘none’? – What is the point of a deacon exercising Eucharistic presidency? I believe that deacons should have the privilege of doing this – not frequently but in principle for two reasons. First, I believe the Eucharist should be available to the poor and marginalize – amongst others – and well beyond church buildings. It is the deacon who represents the leadership of the church in these situations and they are the ones on hand to bring the Eucharist into the midst of a real and needy world. The other reason is that, until Eucharistic presidency is something deacons can in principle exercise, I do not think that we shall every get a true understanding that deacons are a ‘full and equal order’ alongside priests. That means we will fail to understand that the orders of deacon and priest are profoundly complementary, and not hierarchical, as was the case in the early years of the church.
    David Clark

    Like

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