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Deacons: A Full and Equal Order

I am convinced that there are at least two deacons in every congregation who do not yet know they are being called by God. It is the delightful and diligent task of all the people to look for them and call them by name. – Roderick B. Dugliss, dean, The Episcopal School for Deacons, Berkley, CA

Each of us is blessed with a variety of gifts for ministry by virtue of our Baptism. We are all called upon to be holy, to proclaim Jesus Christ and his loving good News, to nurture one another, to serve, and to build up the Body of Christ. But some persons are called out by grace to an ordained ministry, especially to provide leadership and guidance to others, and to encourage others to claim and use their gifts in Christian faith and goodness. The Diaconate is a full and equal order of ministry in the Church that embraces those distinct responsibilities and leadership roles within the wider world of ministry.

Is the Diaconate perhaps your calling? Listen to what others – your rector, your spiritual director, or friends in your faith community – may already be sensing about your ministry. A person's own sense of call should be honored of course, but it also needs to be seen, corroborated and affirmed by others who know you and understand your gifts. At the same time, there is much more you can discover on your own about the order of the Diaconate.

Review and reflect upon your Baptismal Covenant, and upon The Examination in the Rite for the Ordination of a Deacon, both found in The Book of Common Prayer. Read the national church Title II Canons, particularly Number 6 "The Ordination of Deacons' and Number 7, "The Life and Ministry of Deacons," found on the Episcopal Church website, www.episcopalchurch.org.

Read Many Servants: an Introduction to Deacons by Ormonde Plater (Cowley Press). The classic text on deacons in the 21st century; it is clear, readable and well researched.

Talk to two or more ordained deacons. Diaconal ministry has such varied expression that you need to hear about it from several perspectives; and deacons love to talk about what we do.

Explore the diaconal curriculum at the Newark School of Theology. Find out about the academic requirements, and get an idea of time, cost, and dedication that pursuing the diaconate may require.

And pray! Pray fervently for the grace and wisdom to discern where God is calling you to use your special and unique talents. Look deep inside yourself to see if you indeed have 'the heart of a deacon.