“On Reproof,” A Poem By St. Ephrem of Syria, Deacon

St Ephrem is a great spiritual ancestor for deacons!  Enjoy this post, which I found on the Patheos blog by Frank Weathers.


I came upon these lines while researching St. Ephrem the Syrian, the Deacon, and Doctor of the Church.

As it turns out, St. Ephrem wrote almost all of his homilies in verse or as hymns that could be sung to the same tunes that the Arians were singing at the time. What follows are words of wisdom he offers for us to consider as we journey along The Way.

On Reproof by St. Ephrem the Syrian

Let us be builders of our own minds
into temples suitable for God.

If the Lord dwells in your house,
honor will come to your door.

How much your ‘honor’ will increase
if God dwells within you.

Be a sanctuary for him, even a priest,
and serve him within your temple.

Just as for your sake he became
High priest, sacrifice, and libation;

you, for his sake, become
temple, priest, and sacrificial offering.

Since your mind will become a temple,
do not leave any filth in it;

do not leave in God’s house
anything hateful to God.

Let us be adorned as God’s house,
with what is attractive to God.

If anger is there,
lewdness abides there too;

if rage is there,
fumes will rise up from there.

Expel grudges from there,
and jealousy, whose reek is abhorrent.

Bring in and install love there,
as a censer full of fragrant incense.

Gather up and take the dung out,
odious liaisons and bad habits.

Strew good fellowship around it,
like blossoms and flowers.

But instead of roses and lilies,
decorate it with prayers.


There are liturgical resources for deacons here on the Association for Episcopal Deacons website.  They include a template for Celebration of a Deacon’s New Ministry, Diocese of Olympia, which might be useful to plunder when thinking about a liturgy for your own ministry.

Association for Episcopal Deacons

(There’s also a template for a liturgy for the end of a deacon’s ministry, which is  a very strange concept!)

Deacon Michael Jackson, the longest-serving deacon and editor of the new book on the diaconate, also has some ‘Notes for Intercessors’, as organising intercessions can be part of the deacon’s task.  They are not primarily ‘diaconal’ as such, but they are a very useful template especially if you’ve got somebody new doing intercessions who needs a bit of guidance and encouragement.   Notes for Intercessors, from Michael Jackson, Diocese of Qu’Appelle in Canada

Take a look:  https://www.episcopaldeacons.org/liturgical-resources-for-deacons.html




DISTINCTIVE DEACONS: diocese of Melbourne

Clear and focused info on distinctive deacons on the website of the diocese of Melbourne.  Nice – we could take a leaf out of their book!



​Click the image to download a brochure on the Diaconate in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne

A distinctive ministry

The renewal of the diaconate on a more permanent basis has seen a careful examination of what is distinctive in all ordained ministries within the context of a ministry belonging to all baptised believers.

The Diaconate is part of the threefold order of ordained ministry and deacons are authorised by the bishop to assist the bishop to focus the church and the world alike on issues of justice, mercy and compassion.

Deacons take part in the liturgy of the church as well as serving in ministries at the intersection of church and world. Deacons ordained in the Diocese of Melbourne may be found in many areas of ministry including the following:


Some deacons have roles in aspects of chaplaincy, sharing in the pastoral ministry of the church to bring compassionate concern and practical help to people and communities, in schools, nursing homes, aged care facilities, hospitals or prisons. They may be licensed to these ministries or be based in a home Church where they equip others for ministry at the margins of society, away from the gathered church. They care for the young, poor, the sick, the lonely, the outcast, and the marginalised and bring their concerns to the attention of the church.

Deacon in the Parish

Deacons are licensed to a local parish as part of their ministry responsibility, assisting and sharing in the leading of God’s people in worship and representing the church scattered, bringing the hurts of the world to the attention of the church. They may also have a specific ministry to special groups within the parish.

Deacon in Mission

There are Deacons who work in mission outside Australia in areas of education and compassionate concern.

Diocesan Deacon

Several of the deacons operate at the diocesan level employed by Diocesan agencies.

The church needs deacons in ministry leadership, in education, in parish ministry and growth and in prophetic and advocacy work. If you feel called to this ministry you may contact the Director of Theological Education for more information.



DEACONS AT END OF CURACY: a locally-supported post?

For many deacons, coming to the end of curacy is not an issue.  Most are Self-Supporting Ministers (SSMs), living in their own houses, and expecting to continue to minister in their own communities.

However, this is not the case for everyone.  Suppose a deacon wants to move at the end of a curacy?  Suppose they are one of those very rare animals, a stipendiary deacon?  What happens when you complete IME 2 and your paid curacy comes to an end?


Some deacons find that their diocesan staff are well on top of this and that there are helpful protocols in place.  However, there are others for whom this is not true.  One person came to the end of her self-supporting curacy, phoned her Archdeacon, and was told that he had no idea what she should do next.  He hadn’t given it any thought.  Another was simply told by her diocese that there were no  stipendiary posts for deacons, and they took no further responsibility.  A third diocese had created a stipendiary post specially for their deacon, then decided against renewing the contract, and hadn’t a clue what to do instead.  These stories can be duplicated many times over.  The unspoken message seems to be that deacons are expendable. I consider this situation a disgrace, and something that bishops and bishops’ staff should address seriously.  Please start a serious and purposeful conversation with them, and don’t be dismayed.  God has a purpose for you and it is right that you and they should discover together what that is.

Here is some practical information.

  1. Deacons are normally treated in exactly the same way as any other SSM coming to the end of their curacy, ie, they have an end of year interview with the Bishop in which they discuss whether it is right to stay in the same post, or to move to a different post.
  2. All training incumbents should arrange a service to mark the end of the curate’s curacy – or at least to have an element of that in an existing service. Once the new post has been settled, either staying put or moving elsewhere, there will be a licensing service for the Deacon.

However, of course deacons are not the same as priest SSMs.  There is usually a plethora of jobs open to priests, but very few for deacons.  What happens then?

Be prepared to think creatively.  If another stipendiary parish job is not available, what else could you do?  It is worth starting to plan this early in the curacy.  Get in touch with your Area Dean or Archdeacon and start the conversation.

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  1. What else do you have an interest in?  Deacons are usually  involved in different types of social care and marginal ministry, and sometimes a paid secular job comes up in those contexts that would suit you.  I’ve recently come across the term ‘bi-vocational’ – maybe this is a useful way to think about our ministry at the present time.
  2. Paid chaplaincy (e.g. in a hospital) may be an option for some; that almost always involves employment in an institution rather than office-holding in a diocese.  Or is your interest in education or a charity?  Be open-minded and prepared to explore. 
  3. A tip from Canon Deacon Ann Turner:  “It is worth mentioning at annual reviews the area of ministry that appeals to you. (I once mentioned mentoring and/or vocations and within a short time found myself as an ADDO and then DDO. The best job in the CofE!)”
  4. If you want to stay in your present parish, talk things through with your incumbent.  You need to keep a connection with a church community, in order to maintain a sense of ministerial identity, and to encourage that church to think diaconally about the needs of the community.
  5. If you don’t want to stay with the same incumbent, then that needs to be part of your end-of-curacy conversation with your bishop.  You may have your eye on another parish where you would like to serve:  talk it through with him/her.
  6. In theory, a diocesan part-stipendiary or house-for-duty appointment as associate minister would be open to a deacon, but in practice that would depend on whether presiding at Holy Communion on Sundays is an essential part of the role description as it usually is. One practical suggestion in some cases might be for a PCC to fund a ‘Locally Supported Post’ for a deacon, just as some already choose to fund posts for locally employed lay ministers (e.g. youth or families workers). There are special procedures for the establishment of such a post in a parish, but it is legally possible to do so.

In other words, we deacons have to stop depending on our dioceses to do all the thinking for us.  We need to put forward clear ideas, suggestions and alternatives.  It helps if we see this as an opportunity to do what deacons do best:  developing new ways of thinking!


With thanks for their input to Canon Becky Totterdell, DDO for Exeter diocese: The Ven Douglas Dettmer, Archdeacon of Totnes: and Rev Deacon Corinne Smith, deanery deacon, Isle of Wight, diocese of Portsmouth.

(images from Teach Talks, Tiny Runner and Udemy blog)


Today 10 August the church celebrates the martyr, Deacon Laurence.  In our intercessions,  Christians like him are to be remembered,  still being captured, unjustly tried, robbed of possessions, and made to suffer ghastly deaths.

Lord, have mercy:  and grant us the grace, courage and humour of Laurence.

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Laurence or Lawrence (about 225-258) was one of the seven deacons of ancient Rome who were martyred under the persecution of Valerian (emperor 253-260) in 258.  After Sixtus was elected bishop on 31 August 257, he ordained Laurence a deacon and placed him in charge of the administration of church goods and care for the poor.

In the persecutions under Valerian, numerous presbyters and bishops were put to death.. Sixtus II was one of the first victims, beheaded on 6 August 258. According to a legend cited by Ambrose of Milan, Laurence met Sixtus on his way to execution, and said: “Father, where are you going without your son? Holy priest, where are you hurrying without your deacon?”

Sixtus answered: “I am not leaving you or forsaking you. Greater struggles yet await you. We old men have to undergo an easier fight; a more glorious triumph over the Tyrant awaits you, young man. Don’t cry; after three days you will follow me.”

After the death of Sixtus, the prefect of Rome demanded that Laurence turn over the riches of the church. Ambrose is the earliest source for the tale that Laurence asked for three days to gather together the wealth. Laurence worked swiftly to distribute as much church property to the poor as possible, to prevent its being seized by the prefect.

On the third day, at the head of a small delegation, he presented himself to the prefect. When ordered to give up the treasures of the church, he presented the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the suffering, and said that these were the true treasures of the church. One account records him declaring to the prefect, “The church is truly rich, far richer than your emperor.” This act of defiance led to his martyrdom. It is said that Laurence was burned on a gridiron or “grilled” to death. According to legend, at the point of death he exclaimed, “I am done on this side! Turn me over and eat.” (More likely, he was beheaded like his bishop and fellow deacons.)

(From Deacon Ormonde Plater’s Calendar of Deacon Saints)


Enormously encouraging news for us. I had a meeting with +James Newcome, bishop of Carlisle, last week, who is the deacons’ champion.

He agrees that it would be an excellent idea to start moving towards some kind of national network which will not be over-formal, but which would be recognised by national bodies such as Ministry Division and the House of Bishops. He wants us to call it ‘Anglican Network of Distinctive Deacons‘ and says that we need a cross or a badge, and favours the one worn by Catholic deacons as being clear about our identity. We will need a patron and of course I asked if he would consider it, and he said he would be delighted.

The next step is that he will set up a meeting with the new Director of Ministry Division, Chris Goldsmith, and has asked me to be there. I am also to write to +Martin Seeley, head of the Ministry Council.

Please keep all this very much in your prayers. It is by no means a foregone conclusion, and there will be hurdles along the way. May they be flattened by the steamroller of diaconal prayer!! 🙏 And may God grant us all wisdom and lead us according to his holy will.

If you would like a deacon’s lapel pin, (size is just under one inch, in white and red enamel)

No photo description available.

then Deacon David Bean (Southwell) has offered to buy them in bulk from the Buckfast Abbey bookshop (which, as far as I can discover, is the only source in the UK) and will mail one to you if you wish.  Please let me know if you would like one:  send me your name and address privately by Direct Message on the deacons’ Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/DistinctivelyDeacon/

or, if you’re a member of the GoDeacons Whatsapp group, you can give me those details securely on that.

Please also let me know if you would like me to file your details for future reference, or if you would prefer to have them erased.

David’s asked for orders to be made by Sunday 11 August.

So much to be thankful for:  so much to pray for!

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