Author: deacongill


I must admit to a certain amount of envy when I see how well-organised and committed the Christian Reformed Church diaconate is in Canada.  They have some excellent resources for deacons, a very good website, loads of encouragement and real vision, purpose and direction.  We could learn a lot from them!

Diaconal Ministries Canada

This is from their current post:

Diaconal Ministry Developers (DMDs) are encouragers and coaches for deacons. They are experienced in diaconal work and are available to help deacons understand their role and work out their calling in the church and its community. DMDs are available to connect with and visit every diaconate (the team of deacons in a church)

Check out their ‘Engaging Communities’ and their ‘Living Justly’ tabs too as well as the current section ‘Equipping Deacons’.  I hope you find it as inspiring and thought – provoking as I do.

Here they are:




Image result for formation

The Association of Episcopal Deacons in the United States has recently produced a list of diaconal competencies for diaconal formation.  They are undergoing revision, but here’s the latest version for your interest.  It is fascinating to see where their approach is similar to ours, and where it’s different.

Association for Episcopal Deacons

You are to make Christ and his redemptive love known, by your word
and example, to those among whom you live, and work, and worship.
The Ordination of a Deacon:  The Examination, p543.
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect
the dignity of every human being ?
The Baptismal Covenant, p. 305.
You are to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world.
The Ordination of a Deacon: The Examination, p. 543.
(Formation image from ANFH)



It’s wonderfully exciting to announce that the diaconal College of St Philip the Deacon (Exeter) will be attending the first-ever Sung Evensong in honour of Philip the Deacon on his feast day,  11 October this year at Exeter Cathedral.

Time of the service:  5.30pm

For tea and deaconversation, meet in the Cathedral cafe from 4pm!

All are welcome.

Image result for exeter cathedral



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.

Image result for deacon lawrence the martyr

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)


Australian Bishop Tom Frame does some serious and honest thinking about the diaconate in this address to the Anglican diocese of Melbourne.

It’s titled “The diaconate in 2030:  What might it look like and how do we get there?”  by Tom Frame, Director of St Mark’s National Theological Centre and Professor of Theology at Charles Sturt University

Here’s a taster (I’ve put some thoughts into bold type):

Let me here suggest a critical difference between priestly and diaconal
ministry as it seems to be evolving. In my view, we will do well to divide our efforts
into two categories: mission and ministry. Mission has its focus beyond the gathered community where the principal beneficiaries are people who are not members of the Church. Ministry has its focus within the gathered community where the principal beneficiaries are the members of the Church.
Priests have their primary focus within the gathered community; deacons are most active beyond it. This divide, and it is more an analytical tool than an organisational principle, can help us to assess where the bulk of our effort is located. In effect, is
the Church serving itself or others? At St Mark’s, 95% of our effort is serving the Church because the beneficiaries of what we do are overwhelmingly Church people.  Many parishes, if they were to conduct an audit, would find that 80% or perhaps more of their efforts were directed internally. In effect, there is much more ministry than mission.
But if we have an order of ministry whose focus is beyond the gathered
community, we avoid duplication (deacons trying to be priests) and we ensure an
outward focus. I am not saying here that deacons do not have a place and a function
in the gathered community or that the remit of priests is restricted to those who are
Church people. But in wanting to secure a place for the diaconate and to prioritise
outreach, I am inviting Anglicans to consider a very broad and general outlook which finds complementarity between the roles of deacons and priests.
Adopting this approach creates a need for diaconate-specific education and training which will be construed around mission, outreach and engagement. As people who can make connections within and between communities, who facilitate conversation and encourage dialogue, who can identify shared interests and common aspirations, deacons will be different kinds of people to priests and their formational needs will be different.

Full document here:


Ignatian spirituality is profoundly important for many deacons, especially for his spiritual exercises.  Today the church celebrates Ignatius of Loyola.

Image result for ignatius loyola quotations

St. Ignatius Loyola was born in 1491, one of 13 children of a family of minor nobility in northern Spain. As a young man Ignatius Loyola was inflamed by the ideals of courtly love and knighthood and dreamed of doing great deeds.

But in 1521 Ignatius was gravely wounded in a battle with the French. While recuperating, Ignatius Loyola experienced a conversion. Reading the lives of Jesus and the saints made Ignatius happy and aroused desires to do great things. Ignatius realized that these feelings were clues to God’s direction for him.

Over the years, Ignatius became expert in the art of spiritual direction. He collected his insights, prayers, and suggestions in his book the Spiritual Exercises, one of the most influential books on the spiritual life ever written. With a small group of friends, Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits. Ignatius conceived the Jesuits as “contemplatives in action.” This also describes the many Christians who have been touched by Ignatian spirituality.

Ignatian spirituality featured largely in this year’s Deacons’ Day of Reflection for Exeter diocese with Deacon Ed Channing:  Talk 1:   Called and empowered to serve:

Talk 2:  Between altar and marketplace:

3.  and Temptations for Deacons:


FROM READER TO DEACON: Christopher Whinney

Chris Whinney (Diocese of Exeter) muses on the difference in his ministry from when he was a Reader compared with now, when he has been an ordained Deacon for eight years.


Being a deacon as opposed to a Reader has given me a deeper sense of responsibility and commitment. This in turn I think gives me the authority of the collar, which gives more assurance to the public and particularly in home visits, for a funeral for instance.

This illustrates my reason for making this move, namely that I wanted a closer connection to the altar which would help me to do a better job. A Reader is a (much-valued) lay member of the congregation, albeit with some training;   for me, being a deacon demands greater commitment.

I did not want to get bogged down in a vicar’s role, but rather, support him/her in providing extra help.  I like the idea of the servant deacon as part of the community who pops up, like Philip (St Philip the Deacon Acts 6:1-7), where needed.

It’s interesting to compare Chris’s approach with the now widely-accepted view of the diaconate not being located primarily at the altar, but at the door, looking out into the community.  It’s also interesting that he still considers the diaconal role to be a corollary of the priest’s ministry, rather than a ‘full and equal order’ in its own right.

In actual fact Chris spends most of his time ‘popping-up’ in the community, building bridges and reaching out pastorally.



Last week I posted Rosalind’s first paper from the International Roman Catholic – Anglican Conference on the Diaconate which took place in May in Canada.


I’m so pleased to share her second paper, on the role of the Deacon in Worship.

Image result for deacon in worship

Here’s a taster to whet your appetite:

So the deacon offers hospitality on the church doorstep, inviting people to worship. This continues in the formal liturgy as the deacon invites people to clear their consciences with God and, like Peter on the seashore, to put their failures behind them and know that they are forgiven and can hold their heads up in God’s presence. The deacon offers the people the hospitality of the gospel, God’s good news of his incarnational and transforming presence among us; at times in centuries past guarding those precious gospel scrolls and books literally with their life. And the gospel must be heard clearly: Benedict was firm that readers must be able to edify their hearers,[i] and learning to read well in public is a diaconal duty

[i] The Rule of St Benedict. Chapter 38

Read the whole paper here:  Brown, R. 2. The deacon in worship, June 2018-1

image of deacons from Church Life Journal:  University of Notre Dame


It’s wonderful that we deacons can now honour the first black American deaconess saint, Anna Alexander.  Her parents were recently-emancipated slaves, and everything was against her.  Despite it all, she developed a ministry of great fruitfulness.  What an inspiration!

General Convention has added Deaconess Anna Alexander, who began her ministry at Good Shepherd in Pennick, Georgia, to the Episcopal Church’s calendar of saints.

“In a time when the races were separated, she brought people of difference races together,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said. “And in a time when black children did not have many opportunities for education she made sure that they received them, because she followed the way of Jesus and his love.

“And in a time when women were not able to live completely into God’s call for them, she lived the fullness of God calling in her life anyway, starting schools, starting churches, spreading the good news to any and all regardless of race, class or kind. All this she did because she really followed Jesus and his way of love. She was in her time a living model of a follower of Jesus Christ. And she is that for us in our time. For that reason, the Episcopal Church honors and gives thanks for Deaconess Anna Alexander.”

Born the youngest of 11 children to recently emancipated slaves on St. Simons Island, Alexander (1865-1947) started a church and school in the Pennick Community west of Brunswick.

Her feast day is Sept. 24.

For a fuller biography of this remarkable deaconess, go to

Adapted from the Diocese of Georgia

Original text:









On this diaconal site, for once, St Macrina will precede her influential brother!

Gregory wrote a memoir of his sister’s life:

Here’s a taster,  which may appeal to big sisters everywhere:

Macrina’s brother, the great Basil, returned after his long period of [966C] education, already a practised rhetorician. He was puffed up beyond measure with the pride of oratory and looked down on the |28 local dignitaries, excelling in his own estimation all the men of leading and position. Nevertheless Macrina took him in hand, and with such speed did she draw him also toward the mark of philosophy that he forsook the glories of this world and despised fame gained by speaking, and deserted it for this busy life where one toils with one’s hands

Gregory of Nyssa

Info and images from