THE DEACON AS SERVANT, ANIMATOR, ENTREPRENEUR, ADVOCATE, PROPHET, INTERPRETER

I was interested to come across this, a publication of The Episcopal School for Deacons, diocese of Louisiana.  It’s  by the Dean for the School, Roderick Dugliss, called Seeing the Deacon in Our Midst: An Aid for the Discerning Community.  I can’t find a date for it.

Having read Susanne Epting’s book, the important fundamental to note is that the Episcopal Church started by looking at the whole of the ministry of the baptised.  It was from this wide-ranging work that their understandings of lay and ordained ministries emerged.

On our side of the pond, we should be so lucky … !  See what you think of this – the emphases in bold are mostly my editing.  I welcome comments.

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‘When you begin looking for the deacon(s) in the midst of your congregation it is very important to note that you will not see persons fully formed and realized as deacons. An intentional process of formation and development will be essential in order to fulfill the promise of the deacon within them. Only then does the church ordain them. The School for Deacons meets the church’s requirement for formation and development.

You are looking for inclinations toward diaconal ministry and the potential for leadership in ministry in a person that can be called forward in preparation for ordination.

Bear in mind that a potential deacon is an active participant in the life of a congregation—a person who is regular in weekly worship and in “working, praying, and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God.” Canons Title I, No. 17, Sec. 3.

Once you have done your background work, several images or metaphors for the deacon will help your discernment.

Begin to look for—

The Deacon as Servant

This is not someone who is servile! It is servanthood as proclaimed by Jesus who “came not to be served but to serve.” This is servanthood modeled by a Jesus who took towel and bowl to wash the feet of those he challenged to follow him. A servant instinctively reaches out to the other.

The Deacon as Servant Leader

We all promise to ‘seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving neighbor as self.’ Deacons have the willingness and skills to guide, direct, coax, and coach all of us both in both seeking (and seeing) Christ where we may not want to or be able to. The deacon then invites and supports us in our serving. Deacons don’t, and can’t, do it all themselves. They lead us all so that the world is served in Christ and in the name of Christ.

The Deacon as Icon of Service

Deacons have a limited yet powerful role in liturgy where they act out for the congregation in symbolic ways the concrete ministry of service in action. Each element of the deacon in liturgy links to or expresses an element of diakonia as a reminder and an inspiration to a gathered congregation.

We look, then, for persons who can inhabit this role with confidence and competence as they proclaim the Good News for the world on our behalf, help us pray for the world’s deepest needs, model hospitality and welcome in setting a table for the feast, and standing in the doorway to dismiss us “to do the work God has given us to do.”

Deacon as Animator

We look for people who cheerfully cajole, inspire, invite, support, encourage, celebrate, and sustain the impulses to ministry in and of all the people of a congregation.

Deacon as Advocate

We  look for people who can and do speak up for those who have no voice, no agency and who go unheard. We look for people who can articulate the Good News both for us in the faith community and for those with whom we seek to ally outside the church to engage in compassionate action and ministries of justice.

Deacon as Entrepreneur

We look for people who can see an unmet need in a hurting and unjust world and can marshal the resources and the people to respond to it.  We look for people who can start up ministry by initiating, innovating, and then delegating so that God’s people carry on, grow, and expand what was started.

Deacon as Prophet
The heart of the deacons ministry is compassion and justice. The prophet sees the gap between what is and what God wishes for us and calls us to see it and act. The prophetic deacon is not partisan, strident, nor offensive but rather compassionate, clear, and insistent. We look for people who can speak Good News as a call to act for reconciliation, recompense, and restoration.

Deacon as Interpreter

The ordination rite enjoins the deacon “to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world.” (emphasis supplied) We look for persons who are drawn to represent to us the situations of the last, the least, the lost, and to invite us as community to respond to the causes of privation, oppression, and marginalization.

And to repeat . . .

It is important to remember that in all of this discernment we are looking for signs and hints of possibility, not perfected saints. And, no one deacon will embody all these traits.’

I think we can all agree there’s no such thing as a perfected saint …

A POEM FOR PALM SUNDAY

Palm Sunday

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Now to the gate of my Jerusalem,

The seething holy city of my heart,

The saviour comes. But will I welcome him?

Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start;

They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing,

And think the battle won. Too soon they’ll find

The challenge, the reversal he is bringing

Changes their tune. I know what lies behind

The surface flourish that so quickly fades;

Self-interest, and fearful guardedness,

The hardness of the heart, its barricades,

And at the core, the dreadful emptiness

Of a perverted temple. Jesus come

Break my resistance and make me your home.

Malcolm Guite

from his collection Sounding the Seasons, pub Canterbury Press

FOR A TERMINALLY-ILL CHILD

Deacon Lynne Chitty is running the London Marathon soon, in support of  Bradley Lowery and his family.  More details here:  https://www.facebook.com/BradleyLowerysFightAgainstNeuroblastoma/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED&fref=nf

bradley lowery

Lynne says:

‘I’ve shared Bradley Lowerys news, not to make everyone sad, but as a testament to the courage of his parents and as a thank you to this little lad who has won our hearts. I am running the London Marathon in 16 days time for terminally ill children and I can only admire and take my hat off to all those children and families who keep smiling through the tears amd heartache, and who keep living ecah day to the full. If you would like to sponsor me you can at http:uk.virginmoneygiving.com/lynnechitty but mostly I just want to say,  make the most of each day. Tell those around you that you love them, and never stop striving to do the best you can.’

Keep on running, Lynne, and may God bless your efforts.

LOLLIPOP DEACON

Fascinating blog post by Deacon Jenny Morgans, and her experience in being a Lollipop Lady in her parish.

The ‘Lollipop’ Deacon

Revd Jenny Morgans, Assistant Curate in North Lambeth Parish, writes…

Arriving as a new curate in North Lambeth Parish, I was challenged by my training incumbent to come up with an interesting and quirky way to get to know and serve the community. When I decided to be a lollipop lady for a term, I had little idea of what I was letting myself in for.

Read the rest of her post:  http://southwarkcofe.tumblr.com/post/159067948620/the-lollipop-deacon

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Jenny’s Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jellydidit?lang=en

CLOSURE OF DACE

This week the Diaconal Association of the Church of England (DACE)  closed its organisation.  They have a few funds to disburse:  please find the application form here:  Application for Final funding Bursaries 3-17-1

See the President’s letter to the bishops below.

From: The President

The Rev’d Deacon Ann Wren, B.Sc.

40, Park,

Thornhill, Dumfries and Galloway

DG3 5JP

Tel: 01848 332543

Mobile 07900512062

E-mail: parkhouse4012@gmail.com

Patron: The Archbishop of York

Dear Bishop

This letter is to inform you that following the decision at the Diaconal Association of the Church of England AGM the Association is now closed.  All members have now been informed.

We pray that National support for Distinctive Deacons will continue in some other form in the future. For the present time we hope you will continue to ensure there is provision for suitable training and CME for Distinctive Deacons in your diocese or group of dioceses.

As part of the closure process we do have some limited funds to disperse and the DACE Executive would like to offer support to the following in order of priority:

  • A social outreach project associated with the ministry of a Distinctive Deacon. The Project must be a registered charity in its own right or, be supported by your Diocese or Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
  • Attendance at a training event (priority will be given to isolated deacons) and this can be an ecumenical gathering in the UK e.g. with the Methodist, Church of Scotland or Roman Catholic Church in England
  • Educational support for those in training for the ministry of Distinctive Diaconate.

Bursaries of a minimum of £200 will be distributed after the closing date for applications on 1st June 2017.

Applicants to the DACE President must describe the purpose and relevance to their ministry and be supported in writing by yourself or your Director of Ministry. (Form attached).

The form should be returned to me at:   40, Park, Thornhill, Dumfries and Galloway. DG3 5JP

by 1st June 2017.

Yours sincerely

The Reverend Deacon Ann Wren

President of DACE