Much Work For Deacons

soyarsforwebSince June 8, I have served as your Transitional Deacon. During the period before my priestly ordination, I am learning about what it means to serve as a deacon. Our vocation is reflected in the origin of the word deacon itself, which comes from the Greek word diakonos, meaning someone who administrates or serves. Since antiquity, deacons have discharged a ministry primarily of Christian service, within and beyond the church’s walls. At their ordinations, deacons are charged “to serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely… to make Christ and his redemptive love known, by your word and example, to those among whom you live, and work, and worship… to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world… to assist the bishop and priests in public worship and in the ministration of God’s Word and Sacraments” (Book of Common Prayer, 543).

Clearly, there is much work for deacons to do! By tradition, among the most visible liturgical duties a deacon discharges are proclaiming the Gospel and setting and serving at the Eucharistic table. Deacons work behind the scenes too, or at least in different settings. We visit the sick or shut-in at home or in the hospital. We advocate for and work in solidarity with society’s poor, outcast, and ignored. Some deacons serve the church full-time; others are “bi-vocational,” working in both the so-called secular and sacred worlds. As a PhD student, I am this latter kind of deacon. Indeed, in our diocese few deacons are compensated financially for their diaconal work, and most are employed outside the church. But wherever they find themselves, all deacons are called to lives of service. If you would like to learn more about the diaconate, please feel free to ask me about it.

–The Reverend Deacon Jonathan E. Soyars