Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a deacon dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: diaconate

Wait. What’s a Deacon?

This was originally published in the April 2016 issue of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate. The focus of this issue was the 20th Anniversary of the Order of Deacon. 

A group of church leaders had gathered for a meeting. The district superintendent mentioned the possibility of hiring a deacon to help the congregation reach beyond the church walls. A woman sitting across the table looked back at the DS with a quizzical expression. “Wait,” she said, “What’s a deacon?”

It’s not the first time that question has been asked. For twenty years, the United Methodist Church has been struggling to articulate the answer, “What’s a deacon?”

I welcome these questions. When I first experienced my call to ministry and I was told about the ministry of the deacon, that was my response. I had never heard of an ordained deacon. While I felt a strong call to ordained ministry, it did not look like the pastor of a church. But, I had no words to express what it did look like.

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Deacon’s Call: Mike Friedrich

I’ve been collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  In this post you will hear from Mike Friedrich is a provisional deacon serving as the Emerging Ministries Specialist to the Bridges District of the California Nevada Conference..  Here are Mike’s words: 

Here’s the short version:  I stood in a church one day and out of the blue said to myself, “I gotta be part of this!”

I think you’ll find the longer version is more interesting.  Here it is:

I was raised in a practicing and faithful Roman Catholic family and was personally active spiritually and religiously while attending my Jesuit college. Yet, I fell out of practice when I discovered all the local churches I knew were into families and I was a single 20-something guy.  There was no welcome space for me.

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Deacon’s Call: Barbara Ward

I’ve been collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  In this post you will hear from Barbara Ward who is an ordained deacon, retired, in the Virginia Annual Conference.  Here are Barbara’s words: 

Standing before the Bishop to be ordained as one of the first Virginia Conference Deacons in Full Connection was, for me, the answer to an impossible dream.

I was just sixteen years old when I received a calling to ministry. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I sat alone in the choir loft of my church, waiting for others to arrive for the Youth Choir Rehearsal. I was gazing idly at the empty church balcony when I was drawn to what looked vaguely like a blue cloud.

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Deacon’s Call: Laura Douglass

I’ve been collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  This post you will hear from Laura Douglass who is an ordained deacon currently serving as  Minister of Music at Asbury United Methodist Church in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Here are Laura’s words: 

The journey into music ministry began as a child surrounded by a loving Baptist family and lots of hymn singing. My early piano lessons did not bear much fruit until I discovered hymns, and it didn’t take long to figure out that I could delay washing dishes by practicing them immediately after dinner. Before age ten, hymns became a path to the Spirit in the midst of many emotions. I remember praying for my Methodist cousins who “hadn’t seen the light.”

As an undergraduate majoring in music education I concentrated on piano, but also studied voice, strings and organ. During my final semester I took lessons with the new organ instructor whose energy and support were to open unimagined doors.

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Deacon’s Call: Brenda Laws

I’ve been collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  In this post you will hear from Brenda Laws who is an ordained deacon currently serving as  an ID Case Manger for the Eastern Shore Community Service Board on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Her secondary appointment is at Horntown Charge UMC on the Eastern Shore District. Here are Brenda’s words: 

When I saw her on stage with the bishop I heard a voice within my spirit say, “You will be where she is.” Ha Ha I thought that was a good joke. “I am a 19 year old single mom and that will never happen,” I thought. That day was at Annual Conference of June 1980 in Richmond. It changed my vocation in life. It changed who I was and it redefined who God was in my life.

I didn’t even know who that lady was on the conference stage, I just know she had set an example for me when she was consecrated a diaconal minister. My new quest in life was to find out about the diaconal ministry.

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Deacon’s Call: Heesung Hwang

I’ve been collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  In this post you will hear from Heesung Hwang who will be commissioned as a provisional deacon this June at Annual Conference. Here are Heesung’s words: 

My journey to ministry and theological study started from the conversation with my father when I was at the age of fourteen. He used to give me a ride to my school every morning and we shared lots of stories and thoughts. It was such enjoyable moments for both of us. One day, he talked about what he wanted to do in his life. He said he had wanted to set up an organization in order to help orphans because he also faced and experienced the misery of the Korean War and wanted to do something to improve the society as well as his own life.

However, it just did not happen in his weary life. In that morning, he said, “But I still want to do something for lonely children. Although I cannot afford to build an organization or an orphanage, I am about to start donating a small amount of money every month whether it is 5 dollars or 10 dollars.” Those statements just struck me. I said to my father as I got out of the car, “Dad, I will do it. If you don’t make it happen in your life, I will do it.”

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Deacon’s Call: Lisa McGehee

I’ve been collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  In this post you will hear from Lisa McGehee who is an ordained deacon currently serving as  the Associate Minister at Good Shepherd United Methodist in Richmond, Virginia. Here are Lisa’s words: 

The seed for my call was planted before I was born. My maternal grandmother was passionate about serving and caring for others – humans, animals and creation. It was through her life and the way that my mother was raised that I became an advocate for those without a voice. Granny left a legacy filled with stories of providing for care for children. She opened the family home to her children’s friends giving them a warm meal, clothes to wear and a place to stay.

She cared equally for animals and there are many stories of my grandfather and my mother and her siblings coming into the kitchen to find “the box” that sat beside the wood burning stove. “The box” provided protection for an animal that was born the littlest or one that was injured. She raised it with care until it was ready to leave. Her love for creation was equal to the love she had for people and animals. She was a farmer and a gardener who never seemed to have a challenge growing plants. I believe it was the care in which she planted the seed and tended the soil. She gave thanks and praise to God for all that she had and deeply desired to share it with others.

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Deacon’s Call – Joanna Dietz

I’ve been collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  This post you will hear from Joanna Dietz who is an ordained deacon currently serving as  Minister of Mission and Service at Braddock Street United Methodist in Winchester, Virginia. Here are Joanna’s words: 

As a third generation clergy person, I’ve never known life outside the United Methodist Church. But I never thought I’d be called to serve as an ordained minister! I began teaching elementary music right out of college, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. However, it seemed that something was missing.

One Sunday, a new program was announced that was designed to help elementary children grow in both personal and social holiness. Every time it was mentioned, I began to feel deeply emotional.

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Deacon’s Call: Lyn Harding

I’ve been collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  This post you will hear from Lyn Harding who is an ordained deacon currently serving as Clinic Manager & Chaplain at CrossOver Healthcare Ministry in Richmond, Virginia. Here are Lyn’s words: 

I was baptized as an infant in July of 1962. While I don’t remember my baptism, it was the beginning of my life in Christ and in the church. My parents were regular church-goers when we lived in Northern Virginia, and we participated fully in the life of the church; serving on and leading various committees, singing in the choir, ushering and counting the offering. I was active in the junior high group, Sunday School and youth choir until we moved to Williamsburg, Virginia in 1976 when I was thirteen years old.

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Quote: Diaconate Reality

Diaconate quote

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