Dear Parish Family:
Thank you for your interest in the Diaconate in the Diocese of Newark and the possibility of having a Deacon assigned to your parish. The Grant Application is above. I ask that your full vestry along with your rector/vicar prayerfully discern your vision, goals, and anticipated relationship with a deacon before completing and submitting this application to me.
To assist you in beginning this process here is a general overview of the Episcopal Church’s understanding of the ministry of the Ordained Deacon: The word Deacon derives from the Greek diakonos, meaning servant or minister. The Sacred Order of Deacons finds its roots in the New Testament in both Acts and Timothy. Deacons were raised up to respond as servants to both the physical and spiritual needs of the growing community and to help keep the Church connected to God’s people in the world.
Today’s deacons continue in this tradition as “servant ministers.” Their mission is to help spread the Good News of Christ’s redemptive love through service to all people, especially the poor and marginalized of our society. In doing so, the deacon helps to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the larger world so that the Church can remain relevant and responsive to God’s people.
Perhaps most important to the effective ministry of the deacon is his/her role as one who reflects the call of all Christians to serve others in Christ’s name. The call to service is a Christian Call, embodied and articulated in our Baptismal Covenant. Deacons, by example, interpret the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world to those among whom they live, work, and worship.
How the deacon and the people she/he serves manifest this very broad and challenging mission depends on where the Holy Spirit leads them, their individual and collective talents and skills, and the specific needs of the community. It should be an exciting and creative journey.
As servant, a deacon is assigned to a parish and/or a social service setting by the Diocesan Bishop. Though often part of a team ministry with a priest and people, deacons serve directly under the Bishop’s guidance and authority.
Administratively, deacons are often asked to serve on parish outreach committees, pastoral care teams, and community action projects, just to name a few. Deacons are typically involved in some aspect of Diocesan life, perhaps participating on various committees and commissions of the Diocese and National Church at the bishop’s request. In this way, the deacon remains fully connected in serving and interpreting the needs of the world to the Church and the Church to the world.
Liturgically, deacons may Proclaim the Gospel during worship because the deacon is called to proclaim the Good News to the poor, the sick, the weak, and the lonely. The deacon may offer Prayers and Intercessions because the deacon is called upon to discover the needs of the world, pray, and act on those needs. The deacon may serve at the Altar because she/he is called to feed the hungry and thirsty both in the world and in the sacraments. And the deacon may announce the Dismissal, as a “call to action” for the assembled community, who having been nourished by the worship, and who are now ready to go out as the Body of Christ in the world.
There is, of course, much more specific information about diaconal ministry than could ever be included in an introductory letter. Archdeacon Elizabeth Ostuni will be glad to discuss this further with you, as will I.
Once again, thank you for your interest in the Diaconate. May the Holy Spirit continue to be both a presence and a guide as you move into this exciting process. We will respond to your application after the deadline for receiving applications has passed.
Yours In Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith