Deacons walk together at the 2014 meeting of the Association of Anglican Deacons in Canada. Submitted photo
Deacons walk together at the 2014 meeting of the Association of Anglican Deacons in Canada. Submitted photo

The diaconate of the Anglican churches is an historic order, with roots in the ancient church, adapting to the needs of the church and the world in our own age. Like the other two orders, the episcopate and the presbyterate, it is a gift from God for the nurture of God’s people and the proclamation of God’s gospel. It is closely linked with the ordained diaconate of other ecumenical bodies, especially the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and some Methodist and Lutheran churches.

Deacons are symbols of Christ and his church,
filled with grace and power through ordination.

Deacons function in ministries of liturgy, word, and charity. They serve directly under the bishop of a diocese and help to carry out the bishop’s ministry. Bishops normally assign deacons to special responsibility for mercy and justice. Dioceses usually require that prospective deacons already serve in specialized ministries among the poor, sick, and oppressed. Once ordained, deacons exercise leadership among the faithful, encouraging, training, and organizing them for various ministries. In many ways the vision of the historic diaconate has become a reality in our time.

“Deacons are agents of the church in word, action, and attendance,
who lead the people of God in carrying the light of Christ into places of darkness.”

North American Association for the Diaconate


  • iona-reportIona Report – 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.
  • To Love and Serve the Lord – The Jerusalem Report of the Anglican–Lutheran International Commission (ALIC III)




The GoDeacons Whatsapp group is a lively, buzzy group full of ideas, support and prayer.  This last week deacons have been sharing info about this initiative, whereby some cafes put mats or notes on some of their tables saying ‘happy to chat’ or something similar.

This means that if anyone coming into the cafe is feeling a bit lonely or wanting just to chat, then they are free to talk to anyone who is sitting at a table with such a mat or notice.  A fabulous outreaching idea for a chatty deacon!

Deacon Paul Hollingworth (Winchester and a very chatty deacon!) said:


 Hi the above Happy to Share is an initiative I’m also putting into my local cafes. The cards are free and the guide gives an explanation. Thought you might want to know as can be a good way to build community.


He adds

I’m not just putting them in cafes I’m also going to give them to parishioners and clergy team to carry with them and use them when they are out and about. I also have come across a place mat that on one side says Say Hello and have a chat and the other side Not Today maybe another time. They are Coffee Companion place mats.


Deacon Bev Cree (Exeter) responded

This is a very good idea, especially in areas with an ageing population in their community or even those with other health issues which make conversation difficult and need a way to open the conversation. Brilliant

and Deacon Alison Handcock (Bath and Wells) added

Only talking about these with my husband yesterday as we walked the south west coast path. We saw a sign on a ‘chatting bench’ in Beer which read ‘if you sit on this bench be prepared that someone might come and chat to you.’

Deacon Dave Hobman (York) is already on it:

Just ordered cards for use in York city centre coffee shops and drop in centres. Great idea for street ministry.

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So we get to have coffee AND chat to anyone who comes to our table.  It’s a hard life …


A wonderful article by Bishop David Hamid of the Diocese in Europe, on the value of the diaconate!  Three cheers!

Deacons make history in the Diocese in Europe

The ministry of deacon in the Church of England is still not well known nor understood.. Most people assume that being a deacon is simply a stepping stone on the way to the priesthood. It is true that priests must first be ordained deacon but the diaconate is also a distinctive ministry, to which people are called, and part of the three-fold ministry of bishop, priest and deacon that Anglicans teach as being characteristic of minstry in the Holy Catholic Church.

The Lambeth Conference as early as 1958 made an attempt to renew the understanding of the diaconate as a distinctive ministry and recommended that “each province of the Anglican Communion…consider whether the office of Deacon shall be restored to its primitive place as a distinctive order in the Church, instead of being regarded as a probationary period for the priesthood”. The distinctive diaconate, in my view, still needs to be taken more seriously as a vocational opportunity, within the Church of England.

Deacon Giampaolo Pancetti (Florence)

In this Diocese in Europe we are blessed with having at present 4 distinctive deacons in various ministries (and two such deacons retired from active ministry).

Some ask what is the difference between a deacon and a (lay) Reader. Indeed deacons and Readers in the Church of England do many similar tasks – preaching, teaching and praying for instance. But a deacon is somethingnot simply someone who does certain things. Deacons are ordained to hold up before the Church and the world, diakonia, the distinctive ministry of Christ the Servant, as being central to all Christian ministry.

Some ask how a deacon is different from a priest; is a deacon not simply a junior priest? Well, no. A priest’s focus is on the parish community and sacrament. They are pastors/shepherds of the community, feeding them and leading them. The deacon’s focus is on outreach, service, and supporting the ministry of the faithful in the world.

Being an icon of Christ’s servant ministry does not mean that a deacon is simply a servant, mind you. A 2001 Church of England report on the ministry of deacons, For Such A Time As This, emphasised that the deacon is a person on a mission, an ambassador or messenger, making connections, building bridges, faithfully delivering a mandate”.

I believe that it is the ambassadorial role which marks out the ministry of the deacon most clearly. And as an ambassador is sent as an envoy, so a deacon is an envoy between the Church and the world. This is manifest in the traditional role of the deacon in the liturgy (although the deacon’s ministry is far from confined to the liturgy!). So the deacon travels from the sanctuary into the midst of the people to proclaim the Good News, and at the end of the mass sends the people out into the world to spread Christ’s peace. The deacon as envoy also brings the the needs of the world into the assembled Church in the intercessions, and in the offertory presents the gifts of ordinary human life and labour, bread and wine, on the altar to be transformed in the Eucharistic prayer led by the priest.

Last 30 June was a historic occasion for this diocese. For the first time, in the same place, were to be found three distinctive deacons. Deacon Julia Bradshaw (above centre) was ordained to this order to serve in St Thomas’ Church in Crete, in the Greater Athens Chaplaincy. The preacher for the ordination was Deacon Christine Saccali (above left), who is also licenced to Greater Athens. The Deacon of the mass was Frances Hiller.

If you would like to explore a possible vocation to the diaconate, have a conversation with your priest.


The answer is ‘YES – BUT’ … it is hedged around with some important restrictions, the main one being that HCbE should only take place with the express approval of the bishop and even then, only for a limited time.

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This is from the Guidelines issued by the House of Bishops (I have highlighted some of the points):

The practice of Communion by Extension as envisaged by the authorized service has some affinities with the communion of the sick, from elements which have been consecrated at a celebration in church. The main differences concern the public nature of Communion by Extension, and the consequent need for careful attention to the overall shape and content of the service. For this reason it is required that the service should be led only by a person who has been specifically authorized for this purpose by the bishop. Such a person will normally be a deacon, Reader or lay worker licensed under Canon E 7, and must wear the appropriate vesture.

Paragraphs 4, 5 and 6:

The service of Communion by Extension has been drawn up to make clear that it is not in itself a celebration of Holy Communion, and yet enables a worshipping community to participate in Holy Communion ‘by extension’. When it is introduced to a congregation care should be taken to explain the close relationship between the two services; there is but one celebration of Holy Communion, from which the consecrated elements are brought.

5 The notes which accompany the service make clear that explicit permission must be obtained from the bishop for the use of this rite, and that such permission should relate to specific pastoral circumstances. Such permission will normally be in writing, and will be either for a particular occasion or for a limited duration. The bishop should regularly review the use of this rite in parishes where it is used. Communion by Extension must always be regarded as exceptional and provisional, looking to circumstances when a priest will be available to preside at a celebration of Holy Communion.

6  Communion by Extension will require that special care is given to the conduct of the service, and especially that the consecrated elements are treated in a seemly and dignified manner. Those responsible for a service should ensure that the consecrated elements are adequate to meet the needs of the congregation, and that any consecrated bread and wine which is not required for the purposes of communion is consumed either during or immediately after the service.

Whole document here https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-10/extended%20communion%20guidelines-oct%202000_1.pdf

See also https://www.churchofengland.org/more/policy-and-thinking/canons-church-england/supplementary-material

Here is a downloadable version of the order of service for Public Worship with Communion by Extension https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-11/Public%20Worship%20with%20Communion%20by%20Extension.pdf

You can also of course get this ordered from Church House Publishing.

If in any doubt, refer to your bishop, archdeacon or rural/area dean.  The one thing that is abundantly clear is that we are not free simply to make use of this service at any time, but must have permission.

A local example of a time and place when HCbE was used:  http://www.saintandrewsshottery.org/services/holy-communion-by-extension.php

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Deacon Jessica Foster blogs about her post-curacy ministry.

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Beauty in Brokenness

Beauty for brokenness, hope for despair….God of the poor, friend of the weak, give us compassion we pray…

This is a song that I have grown up with and perhaps would have been part of my formation in the 80s and 90s. But singing it while on a reconciliation pilgrimage last weekend it suddenly jarred, Who is the ‘us’ in the chorus. Are ‘we’ the poor and weak or are we the rich and strong who need to have compassion for ‘them’ the weak and poor. Are beauty and brokenness incompatible – does one really replace the other or can they be found together? Is not hope seen its most pure and compelling form when it exists alongside despair – a phenomenon I have seen most clearly on visits to the Holy Lands.

The Church of England has suddenly got very interested in reconciliation. There are new courses being developed, the Archbishop’s Lent book is on the subject and for me personally it’s an emerging theme for my ministry post-curacy.

I don’t think that I or the church as a whole can approach reconciliation ministry as if we think we are whole and sorted and can rescue a broken world. The church has very public flaws and failings, its internal conflicts are well known nationally and internationally. I am glad my failings are not known nationally and internationally – but they are nonetheless real and deep – I cannot pretend to my friends, my family or even to my enemy to be sorted and sinless.

My ministry, now my time at St Peter’s as a curate is over, has several roles and channels of interest – as my focus on international conflict develops and I remain deeply concerned about the welfare of this city and nation. As a trustee, tutor, facilitator, deacon, networker and leader the one thing that holds everything together is reconciliation – the desire to bridge divides, bring people together, to embrace the other, love those considered to be our enemy and to form a more inclusive culture.

The debates and negotiations around Brexit have revealed hidden divisions in our community – these are not usually the obvious divides. I have friends from many different faiths and ethnicities, from different levels of wealth and education among my 450 friends on Facebook, but I only had one person on there who is an open Leave supporter. I was recently describing the network of people I love in Birmingham who come from all faiths and none and encourage and support each other to make a difference wherever they can. “Is there anyone in your group who reads The Sun, or even The Telegraph? ” I was asked. I doubt it and wish there were – how to reach beyond people like us, way beyond the usual suspects, continues to challenge me as our network changes, morphs and develops.

The visible divides can still be problematic. I wonder if Shamima Begum would have been treated differently if she were a young, white, middle-class woman groomed by a far-right cult? It makes me sad that Jewish people in Birmingham need so much security when they gather for worship and that not everyone feels safe (whether they are safe or not is another matter) visiting every part of this city.

I hear the call to reconciliation most clearly through Jesus’s call  to love our enemies. His life, death and resurrection show me what it means to live for others, to resist evil with love and to journey in obedience to God even if the cost is crucifixion.  If any of us could live even with a fraction of his faithfulness it would have a huge impact on the world.

At the moment I am doing some work for a human rights charity, BRAP, running my women’s leadership programme, teaching and tutoring at Queens Theological Foundation and doing bits and pieces for local and national charities and for the diocese. The broad umbrella for all this work is reconciliation in my mind and heart, and I hope to strengthen the focus on this as my developing ministry emerges, keeping my connection with Israel-Palestine and Bosnia too.

I am also being equipped and trained for this work. So that’s why I was visiting a reconciliation centre in Yorkshire as part of a  pilgrimage visiting six centres around the UK experienced in this work and as part of the worship there I found myself singing Beauty for Brokenness. I  am also learning a lot about facilitation at BRAP  and am learning to be a coach at Warwick University. I am so grateful for the equipping and the experiences I am being given.

But most of all, I am grateful that I have people around me who help me see my brokenness, my weakness, my poverty and know that the beauty is found within the fragility. The people who inspire me are not those waiting for God to take them out of the mess, nor those who feel God has prevented them from getting into any mess but they are the people who know they are in the mess but know God is there too and they are doing all they can to keep glimmers of glory shining in the shadowy places of beauty and brokenness.


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You sought to start a simple school of prayer,
A modest, gentle, moderate attempt,
With nothing made too harsh or hard to bear,
No treating or retreating with contempt,
A little rule, a small obedience
That sets aside, and tills the chosen ground,
Fruitful humility, chosen innocence,
A binding by which freedom might be found

You call us all to live, and see good days,
Centre in Christ and enter in his peace,
To seek his Way amidst our many ways,
Find blessedness in blessing, peace in praise,
To clear and keep for Love a sacred space
That we might be beginners in God’s grace.

Malcolm Guite


Image from emersonkent.com


Last year there was a major ecumenical gathering in Canada on the diaconate.  The papers have now been collected into a book, as promised, which will be published on 1st August.  However it’s  possible to pre-order a copy now.  This is the most significant publication on the diaconate to emerge for a long time.  I encourage you not only to order a personal copy, but to alert your DDOs, and also your heads of ministerial training, suggesting they get a copy for their theological library.

If you use the word DEACON you’ll get 10% off!

The Diaconate in Ecumenical Perspective

Ecclesiology, Liturgy and Practice

by D. Michael Jackson (editor), Frederick C. Bauerschmidt, et al.


Reserve your copy now!

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Pre-order this title now and it will be sent to you as soon as it is published. The retail price of the book has not yet been finalised, but if you pre-order today we guarantee that you won’t pay more than £19.99, and if the price reduces before release we will refund the difference.

Looking for the e-book?

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Format: Paperback (216 pages)

Publisher: Sacristy Press

Date of Publication: 1st August 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78959-035-7

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Permission must be requested to reuse any content from this book.


Christian Churches, East and West, especially in the past fifty years, have revived the diaconate as a permanent form of ordained ministry rather than a brief stage on the way to the presbyterate. These essays examine this development from the perspectives of history, theology and practice, showing ecumenical convergence on the renewal of an ancient order. Contributors from Anglican, Roman Catholic, Ukrainian Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist perspectives explore and emphasize the relevance and potential of deacons for the Church today. As well as significant differences, there is much common ground between the traditions. The essays explore subjects such as the retention of the transitional diaconate, women deacons, and the prophetic ministry of the diaconate, as well as the liturgical role of the deacon.

Contributors from the UK, the US and Canada engage in constructive ecumenical theological discussion that offers a fresh and important contribution not only to the study of the diaconate but to ecumenism in general.

About the Editor

Ordained to the diaconate in 1977, D. Michael Jackson is the longest-serving deacon in the Anglican Church of Canada. He is author of two studies on the diaconate, The Diaconate Renewed: Service, Word and Worship and The Deacon in the Worshipping Community, coordinates an international network of Anglican and Roman Catholic deacons, and is a frequent reviewer of diaconal publications.  He serves as a deacon at St Paul’s Cathedral in Regina and is a canon of the Diocese of Qu’Appelle.

About the Contributors

Frederick C. (Fritz) Bauerschmidt is a deacon of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore (ordained 2007) and Professor of Theology at Loyola University Maryland. He is the author of several books, including Thomas Aquinas: Faith, Reason, and Following Christ (Oxford University Press), Catholic Theology: An Introduction (with James Buckley, Wiley Publishers), and The Deacon’s Ministry of Liturgy (Liturgical Press).

Josephine (Phina) Borgeson was ordained deacon in 1974 and serves in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California. Her community work centres on food system ministries and related environmental concerns, including interfaith networking and consulting. She is involved in ministry development and education, mentoring new deacons and teaching those preparing to be deacons. She is a past president of the North American Association for the Diaconate.

Rosalind Brown, after a few years living in the United States, during which she was ordained, trained people for ordination in the United Kingdom. She was a Residentiary Canon at Durham Cathedral from 2005 to 2018, where she had oversight of the nave, or public, ministry of the cathedral. Prior to that, she chaired the Diocese of Salisbury’s working party on the ministry of deacons, edited the Salisbury report on the Distinctive Diaconate, and is author of several books on ministry and preaching, including Being a Deacon Today (Canterbury Press, 2005).

Brian A. Butcher, a sub-deacon in the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church, is Lecturer and Research Fellow in Eastern Christian Studies in the Faculty of Theology at the University of St Michael’s College (Toronto School of Theology). He is part of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptysky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies. His second book is Liturgical Theology after Schmemann: An Orthodox Reading of Paul Ricoeur (Fordham University Press, 2018).

David Clark became a member of the British Methodist Diaconal Order in 2005. Prior to that, he worked as a Methodist minister in Sheffield and London and as a senior lecturer in community education at Westhill College, Birmingham. He played a leading role in the emergence of the Christian Community Movement, set up the Christians in Public Life Programme, and founded the Human City Institute. His latest book is The Gift of a Renewed Diaconate—and the Contribution of British Methodism (FastPrint Publishing, 2018).

Susanne Watson Epting was ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church of the USA in 1989. She served as a board member of the Association for Episcopal Deacons for eight years and as its director for ten. Active over many years in ministry development, she became an assistant to the bishop, working with individuals and congregations. Her book Unexpected Consequences—The Diaconate Renewed was published by Morehouse Publishing in 2015.

Gloria Marie Jones, OP, served eleven years as Congregational Prioress for the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, an international Roman Catholic community with sisters in Mexico and the United States. She received her MA in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of America and served the Catholic Community at Stanford University as Director of Faith Formation and Chaplain. As the daughter of a deacon, she brings keen interest to the question of diaconal ministry in the Church today.

Anne Keffer was consecrated a Lutheran deaconess in 1964. As Director of Christian Education and Youth Ministry, she served large urban congregations in Ontario and a rural team ministry in Nova Scotia. Receiving her MEd in Counselling, she was a university chaplain in Saskatchewan and Ontario. While she was the Executive Director of the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism in Saskatoon, she was called by the Deaconess Community, ELCA, to be its directing deaconess in Chicago, where she served for seven years.

Maylanne Maybee has been a deacon in the Anglican Church of Canada since 1978. She is an educator, social justice activist, ecumenist, and writer on the diaconate and ecclesiology. She was Principal of the Centre for Christian Studies, a theological school in Winnipeg for diaconal candidates, and is now Interim Principal at the United Theological College in Montreal. She edited and contributed to All Who Minister: New Ways of Serving God’s People (ABC Publishing, 2001).

George E. Newman, ordained to the Roman Catholic diaconate in 1987, served as Director of Diaconate Formation in Toronto from 1992 to 2002. He established a diaconate formation programme in the Diocese of St Catharines in 2003, retiring from this position in 2017. Deacon Newman currently assists Newman Theological College in Edmonton as instructor in diaconate programmes. He has assisted with the establishment of diaconate programmes in a number of dioceses.

Alison Peden was a medievalist at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, before moving to Scotland in 1990, where she taught at the Universities of Glasgow and Stirling. She trained in the Scottish Episcopal Church and at Edinburgh University for her ordination in 2002. When serving as Rector of Holy Trinity, Stirling, she became involved in the formation of ordinands. She was appointed Provincial Director of Ordinands in 2011, with oversight of recruitment and selection for ministry throughout the Scottish Episcopal Church.

E. Louise Williams is a deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and was consecrated a deaconess in 1967. After serving in parish ministry, she served on the staff of the Lutheran Deaconess Association (LDA), retiring as Executive Director in 2008. She is past president of Diakonia World Federation and Diakonia of the Americas and Caribbean. She teaches Theology of Diaconal Ministry at Valparaiso University in Indiana.




This is taken from a Church Times article in the 4 July 2019 issue and is excellent advice, not only to the new Revs but to every Christian minister.

Advice for new deacons: Don’t say yes to everything
We asked a management consultant and a psycho-therapist for advice for the newly ordained. Beware the incumbent in the kitchen, warns Matthew Caminer

THE ordination service has taken place, and the celebrating is over. It is an exciting time for you as a newly ordained deacon, as well as for any family you may have. You are experiencing a whole range of life-changes simultaneously. And, when I say “you”, I mean the new deacon, and the spouse or family (if any), and the host congregation into which the newly ordained deacon has been placed.

So many changes: ordination itself, possibly a change of home, possibly a new job for your spouse or partner, and perhaps new schools for the children. Separation from family and friends, maybe; a new church; and wondering how your gifts and aspirations will be accepted in your new environment.

In all probability, it will be a time of wonderful growth, new discoveries, and blessings. But a few tips might help you on your way. Much of what follows is addressed to the deacon, but could equally apply to the deacon’s spouse, partner, or family.

1. Protect the essentials

IT WILL be the work of a moment for your diary to get filled up. Protect the essentials at all costs: time for God; time for your family; and time for your ongoing training. You may now look different in your clerical collar, but, to your family, you are still husband or wife, Mum or Dad.

One common complaint is that, even after many years, some members of the wider family simply don’t get it — that you are not available for family events on Christmas Day, and may just feel like sleeping on Boxing Day. You may need to educate them, or be proactive by suggesting family get-togethers that avoid the big festivals. Guard your integrity. If you don’t get this right from the beginning, it will be an uphill task to adjust things later.

2. Manage time (or it will manage you)

THIS is hard, whether you are in full- or part-time ministry, managing a family, approaching retirement, single, or juggling work in secular employment. Learn to differentiate between urgent, important, and trivial; and filter your tasks accordingly, especially if your training incumbent has a very robust work ethic. Therefore. . .

3. Learn to say ‘No’

IN THE first flush of enthusiasm, you are liable to find yourself saying “yes” to everything, and, as a result, taking on stuff simply because your predecessor enjoyed doing it, or was good at it. But that does not mean that you have to edit the parish magazine, or repair the altar frontal. It is important to develop a way of saying “no”, firmly and politely, while you sort out your priorities and ring-fence the essentials.

It will be much harder to develop this habit later in your ministry; and by then the family may have felt neglected, and core tasks have been left undone. You can always add things later, but for the mean time learn to say “no”, and keep practising. This will benefit the family, ministry, and relationships.

4. Treat days off and holidays as non-negotiable

IT IS amazing how many conversations start with “I know it’s your day off, but . . .” Educate the congregation, and make sure that your day off is known by everyone. If your training incumbent has bad habits about this, don’t let that put you off.

This is especially critical if your spouse is also working, and time off does not often coincide. Days off together may need to be planned a long time in advance: don’t abuse them. If at all possible, rather than stay at home, find somewhere you can go for days off and holidays. This is partly because work has a way of creeping in, but also because if you are not there, they can’t get hold of you.

5. Manage your boundaries

PEOPLE are generally sociable and welcoming, and there will be natural curiosity about this new family — something that most curate families appreciate. Remember, though, that people whom you did not know before will see you though the filter of being “the curate”, or “the curate’s spouse”, and that will colour the relationship.

There are differing views on whether a deacon or spouse should have friends within the congregation; you will be given all sorts of advice, but only you can work it out. Establish boundaries up front, and — especially if you are an introvert person — develop coping strategies for your protection.

6. Develop your support network from day one

YES, you have God and each other, but it is a good idea to have a wider support network, including friends and family, or maybe the peer group of ordinands and their spouses from theological college.

Within the Church there are different resources for different purposes — the training incumbent, the IME officer, the diocese, your spiritual director, the pastoral-care adviser and work consultant, to list a few. Some of these are just as appropriate for the spouse, and a clergy-spouse support group (whether in the diocese or online) can be invaluable. Use them: don’t be alone.

7. Treasure your family and friends

FROM now on, anyone you meet is likely to think of you as “the curate”, or “the curate’s spouse”. The great thing is that your family and old friends will simply see you as “you” without any of that baggage; so you will be able to relax and “be” with them. There may be times when you need exactly this to keep balance in your life. If you are an unpartnered deacon, this may fill an important gap. It is very important to nurture the health of these relationships: it takes commitment.

8. Clergy marriage: establish the balance

THE psychotherapist Canon Beaumont Stevenson has written of clergy marriage as a form of bigamy, with potentially conflicting vows to God at both ordination and marriage. One spouse said: “I hate the fact that the training incumbent is in our kitchen at 9 a.m. on a Saturday, when I am still in my pyjamas.” It’s no joke: a newly ordained deacon may spend more time with the training incumbent than with the family. It can feel intrusive and excluding.

This needs to be addressed from the start, agreeing strategies for protecting both the marriage and the family. Above all, communicate, and plan together. For instance, take no appointments between 5 and 7 p.m. so there can be quality time with the children; leave the door unanswered, and let the answering machine take messages.

If that seems an impossible dream, work out a strategy for making it work, and ask yourself why some clergy do manage to achieve that sort of rule of life — and I use that term deliberately.

9. Decide what sort of clergy spouse your partner will be

OLD stereotypes of the vicar’s wife have all but gone. There is no “role” for a clergy spouse other than that which she or he has consciously chosen. You may see yourself as totally involved, or totally detached, or somewhere between the two. Any of these positions is valid, provided that you have thought it through between you, and have addressed any expectations and assumptions that you or others may have had.

The key point for everyone to remember is that the only established “duties” of a clergy spouse are derived from the words of the marriage service, not from the Ordinal. It is your marriage: don’t let it be pushed out of shape.

10. Protect and nurture your children

THIS can be an unnerving and destabilising period for clergy children. They may be leaving friends behind; routines are being interrupted; studies for exams may be disrupted; there are new schools to get used to; Granny may no longer be just round the corner; and Christmas has to be shared with the church.

Of course, the parish is likely to be very welcoming to your children, but even that can be burdensome and laden with expectations; and there can be a sense of collective ownership, to which some children respond positively, but which others may find difficult and intrusive. Make time for your children, and do not leave that to the non-ordained parent.

A word to congregations: understand what a curacy is for

YOU may expect the curate to be a spare pair of hands, and for the curate’s family to slot into your existing ways of doing things.

The reality is different: the deacon is primarily there to learn, through a combination of continued academic study and in-work experience. This will limit the time available for contributing in the parish. Similarly, having a curate is likely to make the incumbent busier. Set your expectations at that level, and give the curacy time to blossom.

And finally . . .

THE key thing, starting this new life, is to weigh up all the relevant factors, bringing any expectations and assumptions into the open, and, above all, being true to yourself. Without such reflection and open communication, the health of the ministry and of the marriage may be at risk. So have the conversations now, while there is still a blank canvas.

Whether you are the deacon or the spouse, this is a time for learning — for making mistakes. As long as those mistakes are seen as growing opportunities rather than misdemeanours, life will be full of richness and rapid development.

Hold on to the joy of ordination. One curate, approaching the end of his deacon year, wrote: “Nothing could have prepared me for how deeply I would love my congregation. It is joyful and painful in equal measure; but I was shocked by just how quickly I became completely devoted to people with whom I had nothing but Jesus in common! I found I needed time just to feel this, and to come to terms with it.”

Or, as one clergy spouse put it: “Look for, and celebrate, the joys; share the sorrows, and find time to talk to each other every day, even if it is limited. If you have children, let them see the good things about Jesus and the church. Remember that training incumbents, clergy, and their spouses are individuals, and what one may enjoy another may find terrifying, nonsensical, or boring. God is gracious, loving, and powerful; and miracles do happen.”

May this be a time of discovery, joy, and many blessings.

Matthew Caminer is a management consultant and speaker; and presents seminars for vocation-seekers, ordinands, and their partners, on behalf of dioceses and theological colleges. He is the author of A Clergy Husband’s Survival Guide and, with Martyn Percy and Beaumont Stevenson, Curacies and How to Survive Them, both published by SPCK.