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DIACONAL LEADERSHIP: Devotion #3. Much more than needs.

Scripture Reading: Mark 12:41-44

Jesus is a gifted teacher. He knows His audience and understands their context. When He tells a parable, He relates it to their ordinary lives. He talks of farming and baking. With Jesus, the engravings on a coin become an object lesson. And seemingly insignificant children demonstrate something of the Kingdom.

So when Jesus enters the temple in Jerusalem, the disciples can anticipate that He will have something to say about what He sees and encounters.

Just beyond and through the gate, Jesus comes to the place for offerings. Here He sits down opposite the offering boxes. Together Jesus and His disciples watch as people give. The wealthy file by, making a show of “throwing” in their “large amounts.” And then comes the widow, with her two copper coins.

Just prior to this, Jesus had taught the crowds in the temple courts, denouncing the religious leaders for exploiting widows. The crowds had listened “with delight,” but now there is more that Jesus wants to teach. He has more to say about the widow. To Jesus, she is not simply a victim of exploitation.

We can quickly see where Jesus is going with this: the widow’s “mites” are proportionately more of a sacrifice for her than the large amounts easily given by the wealthy. But notice what Jesus does here. He doesn’t simply focus on the relative value of the copper coins. Jesus implies that the woman’s gift – everything she has – is evidence of her faith in God to provide. By giving everything, the widow is also expressing her dependence on God. Part of what Jesus is doing here is subtly shifting the object lesson from wealth to true value.

The widow is a victim of societal injustice. She might have only a little to give. But to Jesus, she is immensely valuable because of who she is and because of her faith in God.

Jesus has a way of doing this when He encounters people. Whether healing or teaching, He sees past the immediate need. Not that it isn’t important. But beyond the need, He sees a hurting person. An individual whom he cherishes and loves. Each person has immense value to Jesus. An untouchable leper is touched. A sick, marginalized woman is called “daughter.” A crippled man is raised up, forgiven and healed. And what about when Jesus shares the intimacy of a meal with a despised tax collector? These are just some of the beautiful expressions of how relational and loving Jesus is.

And what a beautiful pattern this is for deacons. Each person we encounter, each person we hope to help is a person created in God’s image and of infinite value. That person is not defined by his or her needs – even if that is all we can see initially. It will take some time and effort to see the things that Jesus saw effortlessly and immediately.

Deacons, learn to look for what your neighbours have to contribute. Learn to see them as Jesus sees them. By getting to know your neighbours, by learning about them and what they can contribute, you will empower them and affirm their dignity.

But continue to meet needs. That is still important. And, while doing that, consider the context –for there is much to learn there. Trust God to give you the courage to look deeper. To listen to a story. To turn away from judgement. To try and understand why a situation exists.

Love each person and, with God’s help, allow them to become more to you than their circumstance or their need.

Pray continually.

Pray for God to bless you as you build relationships and pray that the Spirit will enable you to love your neighbour as Jesus loved.

(image from Reenacting the Way)
Slightly edited:  http://diaconalministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Devotion-Set-2.pdf

 

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DIACONAL LEADERSHIP: Devotion #2: partnership

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Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:1-11

In Acts 16, Paul is on a journey visiting churches he has established and firing people up for the gospel. He has probably mapped out a route already and set his course –until the Spirit of the Lord tells him differently, that is. Paul wants to go to Asia. The Spirit says no. Paul wants to go to Bithynia. The Spirit says no again.

And then Paul receives a vision, sending him to the outer reaches of where the Jews had scattered: a Roman colony with no temple, no place of worship or gathering. Yet Paul obeys.

Without a temple in which to preach, Paul goes down to the river to speak to the Gentile women there. This isn’t necessarily a promising start, by the standards of the day. But, because he listens to the Spirit, Paul’s conversation with the women by the river eventually leads to a church plant – the Philippian church, a church that becomes Paul’s “partner in the gospel” (Phil. 1:5). Partnerships are important for ministry. At its heart, ministry is relational. Paul understood this and depended on the blessings of partnership to help and encourage him.

Partnerships are Spirit-given: Before arriving in Philippi and establishing the church, Paul is redirected by the Spirit away from other places of ministry. He is given a vision that will lead him to Philippi. The Spirit guides Paul into this important partnership.

Partnerships begin with

commonality: Partnerships work well when there is fundamental understanding of what is shared. For Paul and the church in Philippi, they “share in God’s grace” (vs. 7). It is a basic place to start. Sin is a great equalizer; everyone is equally in need of grace and each person is equally made in God’s image.

Partnerships focus on strengths: In strong partnerships, each partner has something important to contribute. Paul knows that the church in Philippi supports him through prayer (vs. 19), and will also “stand firm” (vs. 27) for the gospel. Paul realizes that his encouragement and teaching are also important to the church (vs. 24). Together, as partners, Paul and the church encourage and pray for each other and work from their strengths to advance the gospel together.

Partnerships give joy: Encouragement is critical to ministry and to partnership. Paul is writing the letter to the Philippians from prison, and, as he prays for the church in Philippi and is being prayed for, God gives him joy. Joy transcends experience and energizes mission.

Deacons, you need partners, like Paul, who will serve with you in your church and community. By the grace of God, however, you will form many partnerships as you live out God’s call on your life. Your partners may be members of your church who are equipped and called to serve with you. Your partners may also be your neighbours whom you serve and through whom you receive blessing. Seek out the Spirit’s leading as you seek out partnerships.

Pray! Allow God’s Spirit to humble you and work through you. Open your heart as you partner and serve alongside those to whom the Spirit will lead you. Look for, and be blessed by each others’ strengths. Never lose sight of the fact that we are all in need of grace: from the deacon sitting next to you to the members of your congregation, to your neighbour in need who might just bless you in surprising ways.

And, last of all, expect joy.

Click to access Devotion-Set-2.pdf

Slightly edited:  http://diaconalministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Devotion-Set-2.pdf

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DIACONAL LEADERSHIP: Devotion #1

DIACONAL LEADERSHIP

DEVOTION #1

Scripture Reading: Matthew 9:35-10:7, 10:26-31

PPT - The Deacon as Icon of Christ: Kenosis , Theosis and Servant-Leadership  PowerPoint Presentation - ID:5593790

It could not be clearer. The disciples are called to follow Jesus. Jesus is their leader and teacher. He chose them, He called them, and He will equip them, too.

Rarely is leadership so clearly defined. Think of your church. Leadership is probably as varied and as colourful as the different roles Christ gave to the church. Not everyone is a pastor, elder, deacon or teacher; we cannot all be administrators or coordinators. Praise God that we are gifted differently and that we have opportunity to lead where we are gifted.

With so many leadership roles, however, how should they all work together? In Ephesians 4: 11- 12, Paul gives an answer. The goal of leadership in the church, says Paul, is “to equip [God’s] people for works of service.” “Diakonia” is the Greek word used for “works of service” – the word from which we derive “deacon.” Essentially, the leadership of the church works together to provide the resources and equipping for all of the people in the church to be able to serve like deacons in the community.

So what does it look like for deacons and other leaders to equip the church for service? How do you do that? The simple answer is to follow Jesus, just like His disciples.

Model: In Matthew 9:35-36, and elsewhere, Jesus exemplifies what the disciples will be sent out to do. Not only does He meet needs and bring the good news of the Kingdom, Jesus also looks with compassion on the crowds around Him. What a beautiful model of diakonia.

In the church and community, serving looks differently for each person. Peter urges Christ-followers to use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10). Those gifts might be hospitality, encouragement, compassion, prayer or others.

Deacons, as you discern gifts within the diaconate, and assume different roles to match those gifts, you will be “faithful stewards of God’s grace” for your congregation. Serve your community with the compassion of Christ, and others will follow.

Encourage: Jesus did not just model ministry and mentor leadership, He also equipped His disciples through encouragement. He told them not to be afraid; He reminded them of their value.

So, how do you, as deacons, encourage people in the church to use their gifts to serve others?

The Bishop’s charge to the deacon in the ordination service says:

Bishop   Deacons are called to work with the Bishop and the priests with whom they serve as heralds of Christ’s kingdom. They are to proclaim the gospel in word and deed, as agents of God’s purposes of love. They are to serve the community in which they are set, bringing to the Church the needs and hopes of all the people. They are to work with their fellow members in searching out the poor and weak, the sick and lonely and those who are oppressed and powerless, reaching into the forgotten corners of the world, that the love of God may be made visible.

All of these are only accomplished through prayer, and the equipping of the Holy Spirit, in humility and with dependence. The Holy Spirit gives encouragement (Acts 9:31), so that you may encourage others. May your goal be like Paul’s, that the church “be encouraged in heart and united in love.” (Col. 2:2a)

Deacons, you have an important leadership role in the church! As you are examples and mentors of service, and encourage your congregation to serve, you will bless your community and be blessed in return. Commit this to God and resolve to lead as God has called you.

Find original here:  with thanks to Diaconal Ministries Canada.  This article has been slightly edited for deacons in the Church of England.

Click to access Devotion-Set-2.pdf

(image from slide show by Deacon William T Ditewig https://slideplayer.com/slide/4967751/)

 

 

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POST-COVID THOUGHTS FOR DEACONS

Some thought-provoking and helpful pointers for deacons ministering in the post-covid world:  from the ever-focused Diaconal Ministries Canada.

As you dig a bit deeper into your church’s ‘Post-Covid Reality’, now might be the time to look at the following questions:

  • What have we ‘lost’ during Covid? Think of plans that were abandoned or dreams that are now delayed. How does our loss of “control” impact our ministries?
  • What is still working? What isn’t?
  • What needs to be done differently in order to be effective?
  • What is being neglected (gaps)? What has caused this? (lack of money or time, social distancing protocols, etc)
  • What opportunities are available? For example, how has technology superseded geography? What partnerships were formed during Covid that could continue? What new partnerships are opening up because of the change in seasons?
  • What are our ‘assets’ that could be shared with other churches and community organizations?
  • What do we have an abundance of? (eg. time)
  • What are we hearing from the congregation? If we aren’t hearing anything, is it because we aren’t asking?
  • How are we engaging the congregation to be ‘deacons’ in their various contexts despite the pandemic? Eg. How are we encouraging them to engage with their neighbours and communities?
  • How are we helping them live stewardly and generously, despite the impacts of Covid? What opportunities are we providing to promote mercy and justice and speak up for those who are oppressed or overlooked?

“When we ask better questions, we invite innovation into the new order. We can be led by the future itself into something fresh and exciting. We begin noticing what wants to emerge through us.”

Susan Beaumont

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ORDAINED PIONEER MINISTRY AND THE DISTINCTIVE DIACONATE

Deacon Chris Sheehan reflects on the difference between Ordained Pioneer Ministry and the Distinctive Diaconate.

chirs-sheehan-2015-900

How is leadership worked out in Ordained Pioneer Ministry and the Permanent Diaconate in comparison with each other and their lay equivalents, with reference to their theology basis, effectiveness and their impact for the margins of society?

By Deacon Chris Sheehan

(Please note that I have removed all references in the interests of easier reading.  They can be found in the full manuscript:  you can access this at the end of the article. This piece was written in 2017:  we’ve made great strides since then and some of the issues that Chris mentions are now being addressed.  Ed Gill Kimber.)

OVERVIEW

Regardless of model or nomenclature the New Testament must be the main point of authentication for church leadership. Steven Croft’s seminal work, Ministry in three dimensions1, sets out in an added chapter in the 2008 edition (reprinted in 2016), a chapter on pioneering entitled sustaining and connecting patterns of ministry in a mission-shaped church.

The changes in British society he cites in the 1990s where new ways of being church were explored continues apace in the 2010s with new monasticism and FX and the unstoppable HTB movement compete for spiritual head room with new age spirituality and the search for individual identity. No more evidenced than by the fragmentation of social media and it’s polarisation into good (witness the Grenfell Tower outpourings) and bad (Islamic terrorist cells and underage grooming of CSE victims).

ORDAINED PIONEER MINISTRY (OPM)

OPM found its origins in the church planting report, Breaking New Ground in 19932 cited in 3. The follow-on report, Mission Shaped Church4, saw the fresh expressions of church language and their 12 forms find voice. As Croft says: “ it discerns that at the heart of each one is a desire to connect with those who are right outside the current orbit of the churches5” The 2006 House of Bishops report looked at consequences of Mission Shaped Church findings and Ordained Pioneer Ministry was formed as recognising not the ministry but the particular skills and gifts possessed by those seeking Pioneer ordained ministry. Criteria H Mission and Evangelism was added and has been part of all would be ordinands ‘ required vocation:

Candidates should demonstrate a personal commitment to mission that is reflected in thought, prayer and action. They should show a wide and inclusive understanding of mission and the strategic issues and opportunities within contemporary culture. Candidates should be able to articulate the good news of the Kingdom appropriately in differing contexts and speak of Jesus Christ in a way that is exciting, accessible, and attractive. They should enable others to develop their vocations as witnesses of the good news. They should show potential as leaders of mission.

The focus on different contexts leads to the expectation that new curates will spend at least 18 months typically engaged in creating and sustaining fresh expressions of church in local settings. The Fresh Expressions movement6 is now well developed and hosts national conferences and has extensive resources at its disposal.

OPM leaders take as many forms as their contexts vary. They will however have oversight of a Bishop within the diocese and will have relationships with ministers (lay and ordained) in more traditional settings. One of my fellow students lives in a council estate in Swindon and leads worship in community centres and on the streets

As Croft says7: “As I have engaged with the development of Pioneer ministry there seems to be a natural connection between pioneer ministry and the tradition of ministry as diakonia”.  He says that the fresh expressions movement is context rather than template based, often with few resources as with Jesus’ disciples. How realistic is that with episcopal oversight, legal and safeguarding requirements and a consumer culture that opposes community spirit? Of course the answer is always that God is already at work and we simply seek to join in.

On the subject of Jesus’ teaching on leadership:  “And do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:1-12 NASB)

As explained in a piece on leadership with a focus on loving others8 “The Greek word for leader(s) in Matthew 23:10 is the noun kathegetes. It means leader or guide. This word appears nowhere else in the New Testament. Why? Because His disciples obeyed what Jesus told them. Jesus said do not be called Rabbi or leader, do not allow someone to address you with such a title. This scripture warns against using titles associated with teaching (Rabbi, Father, Leader). Jesus clearly said that God is the only one deserving of these distinctions”.

Discerning vocation to the distinctive diaconate — St Mary Magdalen School  of Theology

INFLUENCE OF JOHN COLLINS

The diakonia as being sent on a mission (from the sending church) as expounded by John Collins,910 having reinterpreted the New Testament Greek, profoundly influenced the Church of England’s 2001 “For such a Time as this” report11, describing a renewed and distinctive diaconate. It calls out the difficulties of lack of focus on the diaconal element of a priest and bishop’s ministry, and the exhortation to deacons is very Pioneer-orientated: “Deacons can help to bridge the gap between the Church and the needs and questions, the hopes and fears, of people who are not regular churchgoers. Deacons (though not only deacons, of course) are ‘go-between’ people, linking the Church’s worship and teaching with pastoral needs out in the community.”

This was supplemented by a report in 2003 by the Bishop of Salisbury (The Distinctive Diaconate12). This report calls out the three elements of diaconal ministry: in the church, in the world and on the margins.

In many ways Pioneer ministry mirrors many of these attributes but also comes into conflict with the in-church expectations, especially in an incumbency sense of having to do those things expected by traditional church goers.

Where the distinctive diaconate and OPM diverge is when there is only one minister and no support. You can only be in one place at a time, and so, being welcoming at the church door (and perhaps upsetting the sidespeople),  and preparing for presiding at the Eucharist, can be a tough act to achieve. Ideally a team approach means roles and postures are worked out for each of the three areas of church, world and margins. As a recent editorial in the Church Times (see graphic below) stated13 “Deacons are not able to preside at the Eucharist, and so cannot be diverted into becoming incumbents or housekeepers of the Church itself. Their focus is outward. Alongside St Stephen, famous deacons include: Phoebe; St Francis of Assisi; Nicholas Ferrar, of the Little Gidding Community; and, arguably, Elizabeth Ferard, the first deaconess in the Church of England. Unlike Readers, licensed evangelists, and lay pioneer ministers, deacons wear the clerical collar and receive the authority of ordination to help them in their ministry. In their being, as well as their doing, they are widely recognised as conveying Christ to the world, not least to its forgotten places”.

I have throughout my formation and calling taken a view that I need to be as accessible as possible to 100% of those God calls to have me minister to. Becoming an ordained permanent deacon means I can wear the collar if that anonymity and authorisation helps, or not wear it if it creates a “church door type of barrier”. However, not being a priest is limiting, even though in times of absolute urgency there are scriptural ways of being disobedient to the ordained ministry.

The lack of resources is another issue for Pioneer ministers and a church able to afford priests and deacons may be thought to be less resource-strapped than a fresh expression funded for a time-limited project14.

P: Superhero Monogram Initial Notebook for boys Letter P | 6" x 9" - 120  pages, Wide Ruled| Superhero, Comic, Gaming, Battle Scene: Amazon.co.uk:  Binds, Personal: Books

Some OPM ministers may have a misplaced sense of a superhero type figure, a danger called out by Paul Bradbury15: “Pioneers can be just as prone to [superhero tendencies] as anyone else” and “I would joke that the title ‘pioneer minister’ had a superhero ring to it, that I would need a Lycra suit with a big P on the front”.  Are permanent deacons prone to this also? It is a calling not very widely known about (based on conversations with fellow ordinands) and not widely followed. At the Bishops Advisory Panel I attended in 2015 the advisors had never before to scrutinize a would-be permanent deacon.

The distinctive diaconate is small in the Church of England, with only some 150 to 200 permanent deacons, with several dioceses having none. The Diaconal Association of the Church of England (DACE), founded in 1988, was a small charitable organisation which existed to provide support to the estimated 150 distinctive deacons in the Church of England, but folded in early 2017. For would-be priests, having just one year as deacon is not enough when there is so much to grapple with in a new curacy, not least local politics and technology. The exhortation that the diaconate is “A Full and Equal Order16” seems to be lost on many priests and theological colleges. The training for ordinands pays little attention to the diaconal element of their future ministry and none to the distinctive diaconate. There is still an ingrained belief that deacons are somehow passive (seeking out the marginalised and helping people to connect with church is tough, painstaking work though!).

However all the three elements of ministry will need to be exercised, depending on the context and skills of the minister, ordained or not. As Croft says17: “the balance and movement between these three poles or dimensions of ministry will change and evolve over a lifetime…some will be more gifted and called to work primarily in establishing new communities and pioneering fresh expressions of church”.  We must, as Rosalind Brown says,18 “be able to hold an intelligible conversation with cultures with whom we cannot otherwise identify”. 

THE DIACONATE ELSEWHERE

The diaconate is well established in other countries including Lutheran outreach based churches in Scandinavia19 where it has often been associated with the ministry of women. Permanent deacons are common in the Catholic Church since being restored by the second Vatican Council20, and more so with Orthodox churches, though with a more liturgical interpretation.

Servant leadership may seem very Christ-like (Matthew 20:26-28 NRSV) : “but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” This model has been the subject of many works expounding the judicious use of leader power21, but not all believe in this approach. The various types of leadership models22 (military style, CEO, coach and poet-gardener) of top down etc., are useful. However the question of obedience to the episcopate is challenging: how can a context-sensitive pioneer or deacon both react to the context and be obedient? How does obedience fit into episcopal models? The undefended leader series23 gives strategies for dealing with different situations, and cites world leaders including Christ as examples.

It would seem that in 2017 as if Pioneer ministry is still in ascendancy while the permanent diaconate is in decline partly because the training for the latter is the same as for priests, and ego, and fulfilment, as well as the higher chance of stipendiary priesthoods, are real factors in making decisions. The ordination service for deacons is a helpful reminder, but all too soon most become priests with cursus honorum being an issue again now, despite the brief renaissance of the permanent diaconate in the 1990s and 2000s.

Lay equivalents of diaconate in Readers who have the same church duties and restrictions as permanent ordained deacons may seem to cause conflict. However a calling and the authorisation mean individuals need to decide where God wants them to be.

EFFECTIVENESS

How effective are Pioneers and permanent deacons? It is hard to be categorical about deacons as being so few in number, and now, lacking their DACE charity, there is little central data collection. And of course effectiveness cannot be measured purely financially or numerically.

In terms on the relative impact on those on the margins of society, there is little published research in this area. While all churches and other charities have a huge impact as government’s support recedes in cost-cutting programmes24 and effectively subsidise the margins tends to be anecdotal and based on individual case studies, such as Male’s book on how to Pioneer25.

Church of England statistics lump together fresh expressions and regular forms of worship. Also there is no reliable source for the number of Fresh Expression or Pioneer ministers. The data on various Fresh Expressions’ projects26 includes a 2010 study showing 1000 fresh expressions in 40 dioceses and 30,000 people attended a fresh expression church who would not have attended otherwise. The Methodist fresh expression movement showed around 5% of the 220,000 church attendances in 2015 were fresh expressions27. There are currently (2016) in excess of 3000 Fresh Expressions in the United Kingdom, which are attended by 20 000 people28. Data on sustainability of fresh expressions makes grim reading also. A survey of 57 stories of new churches since 1999 showed that every three churches where the founder left and things continued well, two went to the wall29.

IN CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the rarity of permanent deacons, despite the scriptural and ordained imperatives, is both surprising and disappointing. It is to be hoped that building on the work of John Collins and Steven Croft, the synergy and overlap between pioneering fresh expressions and the diaconate, distinctive or otherwise, with complementary lay leadership roles, can inspire generations to come to take up sent and loving service to those for whom church has no meaning today.

Chris’s paper can be accessed here:  https://deaconstories.files.wordpress.com/2020/08/chris-sheehan-distinctive-deacon-and-pioneer-essay-2.pdf

More about Chris:  https://pioneer.churchmissionsociety.org/2016/05/standing-at-the-doors-of-the-church-interview-with-chris-sheehan/

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VIDEO: ANN MORISY’S WEBINAR: Distinctive Deacons – enacting hope in troubled times

Deacon David Bean has kindly made the video available of Ann Morisy’s recent webinar on ‘Distinctive Deacons:  enacting hope in troubled times’.

Unfortunately I can’t post it here, but please find it on our Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/DistinctivelyDeacon/videos/437537337162534/

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DEACONS’ TOOL KIT: developing God’s work in our parish communities

Recently, with the help of Ann Morisy, we distinctive deacons have been considering at length and in depth what it means to be ministers ‘on the edge, on the margins, in the doorway, in the liminal space’ between church and community, between God and those who do not yet know his love.

With my diocesan steering group, I put together a four-session course for deacons, called ‘Preparing for Mission’.  It was done with exactly this scenario in mind:  that we, as deacons, stand in the doorway, in the space between church and community.  We explore it, we reach out through it, we discern what God is doing in our contexts.  We encourage our churches to look outwards.  We put together what we know of our communities and prayerfully consider what God might be calling us to do.  We search out the forgotten, we are agents of God’s love, we intercede, we are heralds.

Using elements from the bishop’s charge to deacons in the ordination service, I thought it might be helpful to post this course, as it may trigger some ideas.  You can find the whole document here https://deaconstories.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/4-session-course-for-parishes-preparing-for-mission2.pdf and it is part of the ‘Deacons’ Tool Kit’.

The idea is not that it should be followed slavishly! – but more, that deacons, with the support of their incumbents, use the ideas as a jumping-off point for their own contexts.

Click to access 4-session-course-for-parishes-preparing-for-mission2.pdf

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DEACONS’ NATIONAL CONFERENCE TO GO AHEAD NEXT YEAR!

I’m so pleased to be able to announce that we have a new date for our postponed national deacons’ conference, next year.

It will be on Saturday 17 April at the same place as our first conference in 2018, the Frances Young centre at Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham.

Our speaker will be the Rt Rev Martin Seeley, bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, and Chair of the Church of England Ministry Council.

This post is a key one, responsible with the Council for advising the House of Bishops and the dioceses over the work of nurturing vocations to ministry, the selection and formation of candidates for ministry and continuing ministerial development and deployment.

As Ministry Division continues to review its training and formation qualities, including for Distinctive Deacons, Bishop Martin is a crucial person able to speak to us at a critical time about the future shape of the distinctive diaconate.

We are also exceptionally blessed to have the Rt Rev James Newcome with us, bishop of Carlisle.  Bishop James is the distinctive deacons’ champion and our constant guide and supporter.

Bishop of Carlisle sets off on 24-day Lent Walk across Cumbria ...

(image from News and Star)

I’m just as pleased to announce that

timings & prices remain exactly the same. Please put this new date in your diaries now and spread the word to others who may be interested. 

Tickets are now on saleAll tickets that were purchased for the COVID-cancelled 2020 conference will be valid for next year and we hope that as many of our current attendees as possible will choose to retain their tickets for 2021. However, we also recognise that this will not be possible for everyone so full refunds will therefore also be available on request by emailing us at deaconsonthemove@gmail.com

You can also book accommodation:  please scroll down on the Eventbrite page to see details.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/deacons-on-the-move-2021-tickets-77728031635?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

If Covid-10 continues, and it is not possible to meet physically, we expect to offer a zoom conference instead.

It’s all going on for deacons!

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BIG ROSIE

West Midlands bus route 11 - Wikipedia

Out of the blue, I get a phone call from Big Rosie in Brum. She met Hub at the bus stop in our previous parish one day, was invited to church, and blow me, she came. She came to everything!

One of the things that kept me going there was one of Rosie’s legendary hugs. She is biiiiiiiiiiig – you sort of disappear in all the kindness and love. But she isn’t a confident person, and would be worried to death about doing something in public.

Anyhow, she had to go to hospital. On Sunday morning she announces to the ward that normally she would be in her church, but as she isn’t, she’d like to say a prayer for everyone. She’s not being funny or anything – but would they mind?

The ward stops. The staff as well as the patients are attentive and quiet. And Big Rosie prays her prayer, extempore, asking God to be with everyone. Then they all say Amen, and get on with the next thing, and Rosie is taken down for the next test. It’s an MRI scan and she’s scared of the tunnel. Then she says to herself ‘What are you scared of? He’s with you!’ and she finds she’s immediately calmer.

It’s tempting sometimes to feel we haven’t done anything much for God. We have very little to offer him. But this reminds me. God is at work in the most unlikely situations. And people.

Prayer in Hospital - Sandra Kennedy Ministries

image from Sandra Kennedy Ministries
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A DEACON’S LOT: MAKING THE LOVE OF GOD VISIBLE

A Deacon’s Lot

by David Bean

Meet the town chaplain embracing social media to help those in ...

So, what do I do, as a deacon?  It’s an interesting question – because the vocation of a distinctive deacon cannot be easily defined in functional terms. It’s that old chestnut of a deacon being who I am, not what I do.

So deacon – servant, herald, ambassador – that is who I am, and what I do – well, that flows from who I am.

Deacons often talk too about their calling to the church, to the world and to the boundary, or the edge, as being the locations of a deacon’s ministry.

So, in the church, I’m a parish deacon.  I help with worship – I’m the servant at the altar, I might preach, lead intercessions.  I help facilitate or enable the ministry of others.

As a servant in (or for) the church I help with leadership, as part of the church council, and standing committee.  I care for others and I encourage.

In the world, out and about, I’m a town centre chaplain – and at the moment I’m part of a group of Covid 19 volunteers, looking to support or advise the public as shops and businesses try to get back to trading.  I’m chaplain to the mayor. I care for and support others there, too.

And on the boundary between church and world, I am the person who is sent

  • to be church representative to food bank.
  • To the rough sleeper and to those who might help the homeless.
  • To support, encourage and equip community groups.
  • To convey and interpret the church to the world, and the world to the church.

All of this is about visibility and presence. Making the church visible and present.

To make the love of God we see in Christ, visible.

Deacon David Bean

There’s a great article about David’s work here :  David Bean town centre chaplain

https://www.lincolnshirelive.co.uk/news/local-news/meet-town-chaplain-embracing-social-4006942