Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: Margaret Ann Crain

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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Diakonia

washing_feet_011At the core of United Methodism is diakonia, the servant ministry of the church. We, like the prophet Isaiah and the teenage girl Mary, can sing, “Here I am, Lord.” Jesus’ primary form of ministry was diakonia. Despite his disciples’ cries, he allowed the little children to come to him. He talked and shared the Way with the Samaritan woman. He sat at table with sinners. He washed the feet of his disciples. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and touched the leper. As diakonos (servant) Jesus was the bridge between Word and world; between the Healer and the broken; between God and humanity.

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