The word deacon is derived from the Greek word diákonos which is a Greek word meaning servant and it is generally assumed that the office of deacon originated in the selection of seven men by the apostles, among them Stephen, to assist with the charitable work of the early church as recorded in Acts chapter 6.
The ministry of a deacon encompasses preaching, teaching, pastoral and missional work and assisting in leading worship. At services of holy communion, it is customary for the deacon to call the congregation to repentance, to read the holy gospel, to prepare the holy table and to cleanse the vessels after communion and finally to send the congregation to “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord“.
The distinctive liturgical vesture of a deacon is a stole worn diagonally over the left shoulder in the colour appropriate to the day or season.
It is important that we do not view being a deacon as merely a stepping stone to the priesthood, but as a ministry in its own right. It does me good to remember that although I am a priest, I was also ordained deacon first and so I try to integrate that into my priestly ministry.
And… Sandra Collier begins her formation this month as she fulfils her vocation to be a ‘distinctive deacon’. This means that Sandra’s calling has been discerned by the Church to be a deacon rather than a priest.
Over the next few years, I hope and pray that we will learn what diaconal ministry looks like as we accompany both Lewis and Sandra on their respective vocational journeys.