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Deacon

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This article is about the office in the Christian Church. For other uses, see Deacon
(disambiguation).


Saint Stephen, one of the first seven deacons in the Christian Church, holding a Gospel
Book. Painting by Giacomo Cavedone 1601
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of
some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. In many
traditions the "diaconate", the term for a deacon's office, is a clerical office; in others it is
for laity.
The word "deacon" is derived from the Greek word diakonos (),
[1]
which is a
standard ancient Greek word meaning "servant", "waiting-man", "minister" or
"messenger".
[2]
One commonly promulgated speculation as to its etymology is that it
literally means 'through the dust', referring to the dust raised by the busy servant or
messenger.
[3]

It is generally believed that the office of deacon originated in the selection of seven men,
among them Stephen, to assist with the charitable work of the early church as recorded in
Acts 6.
[4][5]
Female deacons are mentioned by Pliny the Younger in a letter to Trajan dated
c. 112. The exact relationship between male and female Deacons varies. In some traditions
a female deacon is simply a member of the order of deacons; in others, deaconesses
constitute a separate order; in others, the title "deaconess" is given to the wife of a deacon.
A biblical description of the qualities required of a deacon, and of their household, can be
found in 1 Timothy 3:1-13.
Among the more prominent deacons in history are Phoebe, the only person actually called
"deacon" in Scripture; Stephen, the first Christian martyr (the "protomartyr"); Philip, whose
baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch is recounted in Acts 8:26-40; Saint Lawrence, an early
Roman martyr; Saint Vincent of Saragossa, protomartyr of Spain; Saint Francis of Assisi,
founder of the mendicant Franciscans; Saint Ephrem the Syrian and Saint Romanos the
Melodist, a prominent early hymnographer. Prominent historical figures who played major
roles as deacons and went on to higher office include Saint Athanasius of Alexandria,
Thomas Becket and Reginald Pole.
The title is also used for the president, chairperson, or head of a trades guild in Scotland;
and likewise to two officers of a Masonic Lodge.
Contents
[hide]
1 Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism
o 1.1 Roman Catholicism
o 1.2 Eastern Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism
o 1.3 Anglicanism
2 Deaconesses
3 Lutheran churches
o 3.1 Missouri Synod (USA)
o 3.2 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
3.2.1 Deaconess Community (ELCA/ELCIC)
3.2.2 Diaconal Ministers/Associates in Ministry (ELCA/ELCIC)
o 3.3 Porvoo Lutheran churches
4 Methodist churches
o 4.1 Methodist Church of Great Britain
o 4.2 The United Methodist Church
5 Other traditions
o 5.1 Amish
o 5.2 Baptists
o 5.3 Church of Scotland
o 5.4 Uniting Church in Australia
o 5.5 Presbyterian Church (USA/PCA)
o 5.6 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
o 5.7 Church of Christ
o 5.8 New Apostolic Church
o 5.9 Jehovah's Witnesses
6 Cognates
7 Scots usage
8 See also
9 Footnotes
10 References
o 10.1 Church of Christ
o 10.2 Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
o 10.3 Lutheran Church
11 External links
Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism[edit]
The diaconate is one of the major orders in the Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and
Oriental Orthodox churches. The other major orders are those of bishop and presbyter
(priest).
While the diaconate as a permanent order was maintained from earliest Apostolic times to
the present in the Eastern churches (Orthodox and Catholic), it mostly disappeared in the
Western church (with a few notable exceptions such as St Francis of Assisi) during the first
millennium, with Western churches retaining deacons attached to diocesan cathedrals. The
diaconate continued in a vestigial form as a temporary, final step along the course to
ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood. In the 20th century, the diaconate was
restored as a permanent order in many Western churches, most notably in the Latin Rite of
the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, and The United Methodist Church.
In Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches, deacons assist priests in their pastoral and
administrative duties, but often report indirectly to the bishops of their diocese. They have a
distinctive role in the liturgy, their main tasks being to proclaim the Gospel, preach, assist
in the administration of the Eucharist and to serve the poor and outcast.
Roman Catholicism[edit]


In Poland, a Catholic deacon chants the Exsultet at the Easter Vigil.
After the Council of Nicea, the Order of Deacons was suppressed by the Pope. From that
time until the years just prior to the Second Vatican Council, the only men ordained as
deacons were seminarians who were completing the last year or so of graduate theological
training, who received the order several months before priestly ordination.
Following the recommendations of the council (in Lumen Gentium 29), in 1967 Pope Paul
VI issued the motu proprio Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem, restoring the ancient practice of
ordaining to the diaconate men who were not candidates for priestly ordination. These men
are known as permanent deacons in contrast to those continuing their formation, who were
then called transitional deacons. There is no sacramental difference between the two,
however, as there is only one order of deacons.
[6]



Ornately embroidered dalmatic, the proper vestment of the deacon (shown from the back
with an appareled amice)
The permanent diaconate formation period in the Roman Catholic Church varies from
diocese to diocese as it is determined by the local ordinary. But it usually entails a year of
prayerful preparation, a four- or five-year training period that resembles a collegiate course
of study, and a year of post-ordination formation as well as the need for lifelong continuing
education credits. Diaconal candidates receive instruction in philosophy, theology, study of
the Holy Scriptures (the Bible), homiletics, sacramental studies, evangelization,
ecclesiology, counseling, and pastoral care and ministry before ordination. Although they
are assigned to work in a parish by the diocesan bishop, once assigned, deacons are under
the supervision of the parish pastor.
[7]
Unlike most clerics, permanent deacons who also
have a secular profession have no right to receive a salary for their ministry,
[8]
but many
dioceses opt to remunerate them anyway.
[9]

The ministry of the deacon in the Roman Catholic Church is described as one of service in
three areas: the Word, the Liturgy and Charity. The deacon's ministry of the Word includes
proclaiming the Gospel during the Mass, preaching and teaching. The deacon's liturgical
ministry includes various parts of the Mass proper to the deacon, including being an
ordinary minister of Holy Communion and the proper minister of the chalice when Holy
Communion is administered under both kinds. The ministry of charity involves service to
the poor and marginalized and working with parishioners to help them become more
involved in such ministry. As clerics, deacons are required to recite the Liturgy of the
Hours. Deacons, like priests and bishops, are ordinary ministers of the sacrament of
Baptism and can serve as the church's witness at the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which
the bride and groom administer to each other (though if the exchange of vows takes place in
a wedding Mass, or Nuptial Mass, the Mass is celebrated by the priest and the deacon acts
as another witness). Deacons may preside at funeral rites not involving a Mass (e.g., the
final commendation at the gravesite or the reception of the body at a service in the funeral
home), and may assist the priest at the Requiem Mass. They can preside over various
services such as Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and they may give certain
blessings. They cannot hear confession and give absolution, anoint the sick, or celebrate
Mass.
At Mass, the deacon is the ordinary minister of the proclamation of the Gospel (in fact, a
priest, bishop, or even the Pope should not proclaim the Gospel if a deacon is present)
[10]

and of Holy Communion (primarily, of the Precious Blood). As ordained clerics, and if
granted faculties by their bishops, deacons may preach the homily at a public Mass, unless
the priest celebrant retains that ministry to himself at a given Mass.


Catholic deacon wearing a dalmatic.
The vestments most particularly associated with the Western Rite Catholic deacon are the
alb, stole and dalmatic. Deacons, like priests and bishops, must wear their albs and stoles;
deacons place the stole over their left shoulder and it hangs across to their right side, while
priests and bishops wear it around their necks. The dalmatic, a vestment especially
associated with the deacon, is worn during the celebration of the Mass and other liturgical
functions; its use is more liberally applied than the corresponding vestment of the priest, the
chasuble. At certain major celebrations, such as ordinations, the diocesan bishop wears a
dalmatic under his chasuble.
Permanent deacons often serve in parish or other ministry as their time permits, since they
typically have other full-time employment. They may also act as parish administrators (C.
217 of the Code of Canon Law). With the passage of time, more and more deacons are
serving in full-time ministries in parishes, hospitals, prisons, and in diocesan positions.
Deacons often work directly in ministry to the marginalized inside and outside the church:
the poor, the sick, the hungry, the imprisoned.
The permanent diaconate can be conferred on single men 25 or older, and on married men
35 or older, but an older age can be required by the episcopal conference.
[11]
If a married
deacon is widowed, he must maintain the celibate state. Under some very rare
circumstances, however, deacons who have been widowed can receive permission to
remarry. This is most commonly done when the deacon is left as a single father. In some
cases, a widowed deacon will seek priestly ordination, especially if his children are
grown.
[12]
(See also clerical celibacy.) The wife of a permanent deacon may be sometimes
considered a partner in his ordained ministry. In many dioceses, the wife of the diaconal
candidate undertakes the same education and training her husband does.
A permanent deacon is not styled "Father" as a priest would be, but as "Deacon",
abbreviated variously as "Dn." or "Dcn." This preferred method of address is stated in the
2005 document of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Directory
for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States. The
proper address in written correspondence for all Deacons of the Latin (Roman Rite)
Catholic Church is "Rev. Mr.". "Rev. Mr.", however, is more often used to indicate a
transitional deacon (i.e., preparing for ordination to the priesthood) or one who belongs to a
religious institute, while "Deacon" is used as the honorific for permanent deacons (e.g.
Deacon John Smith, or Deacon Smith). The decision as to whether deacons wear the
Roman collar as street attire is left to the discretion of each bishop for his own diocese.
Where clerical garb is approved by the bishop, the deacon can choose to wear or not wear
the "collar".
[citation needed]
Where it is not permitted, the deacon must wear secular clothing. It
is becoming more common to see deacons wearing a clerical suit.
Deacons, like seminarians, religious, and the two other orders, Bishops and priests, recite
the Liturgy of the Hours; however, deacons, if they are obliged to do so, are usually only
required to participate in Morning and Evening Prayer.
In solemn Masses today and moreso in older Rites of the Mass, one deacon will serve as
the Deacon of the Word (proclaiming the Gospel and the Kyrie, and some other parts), and
the Deacon of the Eucharist, who assists the priest during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Eastern Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism[edit]


Greek Orthodox deacon in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, wearing an orarion
over his sticharion. On his head he wears the clerical kamilavka.
In addition to reading the Gospel and assisting in the administration of Holy Communion,
the deacon censes the icons and people, calls the people to prayer, leads the litanies, and
has a role in the dialogue of the Anaphora. In keeping with Eastern tradition he is not
permitted to perform any Sacred Mysteries (sacraments) on his own, except for Baptism in
extremis (in danger of death), conditions under which anyone, including the laity, may
baptize. When assisting at a normal baptism, it is often the deacon who goes down into the
water with the one being baptized (Acts 8:38). In contrast to the Roman Catholic Church,
deacons in the Eastern Churches may not preside at the celebration of marriages, as in
Eastern theology the sacrament is conferred by the nuptial blessing of a priest.
Diaconal vestments are the sticharion (dalmatic), the orarion (deacon's stole), and the
epimanikia (cuffs). The last are worn under his sticharion, not over it as does a priest or
bishop. The deacon usually wears a simple orarion which is only draped over the left
shoulder but, if elevated to the rank or archdeacon, he wears the "doubled-orarion",
meaning it is passed over the left shoulder, under the right arm, and then crossed over the
left shoulder (see photograph, right). In modern Greek practice, a deacon wears this
doubled orarion from the time of his ordination. Also, in the Greek practice, he wears the
clerical kamilavka (cylindrical head covering) with a rim at the top. In Slavic practice, a
hierodeacon (monastic deacon) wears the simple black kamilavka of a monk (without the
rim), but he removes the monastic veil (see klobuk) when he is vested; a married deacon
would not wear a kamilavka unless it is given to him by the bishop as an ecclesiastical
award; the honorary kamilavka is purple in colour, and may be awarded to either married or
monastic clergy.
As far as street clothing is concerned, immediately following his ordination the deacon
receives a blessing to wear the Exorasson (Arabic: Jib'be, Slavonic: Riassa), an outer
cassock with wide sleeves, in addition to the Anterion (Slavonic: Podraznik), the inner
cassock worn by all orders of clergy. In the Slavic practice, married clergy may wear any of
a number of colours, but most often grey, while monastic clergy always wear black. In
certain jurisdtictions in North America and Western Europe, a Roman collar is often worn,
although this is not a traditional or widespread practice.
A protodeacon (Greek: : protodiakonos, "first deacon") is a distinction of
honor awarded to senior deacons, usually serving on the staff of the diocesan bishop. An
archdeacon is similar, but is among the monastic clergy. Protodeacons and archdeacons use
a double-length orarion even if it is not the local tradition for all deacons to use it. In the
Slavic tradition a deacon may be awarded the doubled-orarion even if he is not a
protodeacon or archdeacon.


Painting of a Russian Orthodox deacon leading an ektenia (litany).
According to the practice of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, in keeping with the
tradition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the most common way to address a deacon is
"Father".
[13]
Depending on local tradition, deacons are addressed as either "Father", "Father
Deacon", "Deacon Father", or, if addressed by a Bishop, simply as "Deacon".
The tradition of kissing the hands of ordained clergymen extends to the diaconate as well.
This practice is rooted in the Holy Eucharist and is in acknowledgement and respect of the
Eucharistic role members of the clergy play in preparing, handling and disbursing the
divine and lifegiving body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ during the Divine Liturgy,
and in building and serving the Body of Christ, His Church.
Anciently, the Eastern Churches consecrated deaconesses. This practice fell into desuetude
in the second millennium, but has been revived in some churches. Saint Nectarios of
Pentapolis consecrated a number of nuns as deaconesses in convents. Deaconesses would
assist in anointing and baptising women, and in ministering to the spiritual needs of the
women of the community, but would not serve within the Holy Altar. As churches
discontinued consecrating women as deaconesses, these duties largely fell to the nuns and
to the priests' wives.
(See also clerical celibacy.)
Anglicanism[edit]


An Anglican priest vested as a deacon with an alb and a purple stole over his left shoulder.
In Anglican churches, deacons often work directly in ministry to the marginalized inside
and outside the church: the poor, the sick, the hungry, the imprisoned. Unlike Orthodox and
Catholic deacons who may be married only before ordination, Anglican deacons are
permitted to marry freely before or after ordination, as are Anglican priests. Most deacons
are preparing for priesthood and are usually ordained as priests about a year after their
diaconal ordination. However, there are some deacons who do not go on to receive priestly
ordination. Many provinces of the Anglican Communion ordain both women and men as
deacons. Many of those provinces that ordain women to the priesthood previously allowed
them to be ordained only to the diaconate. The effect of this was the creation of a large and
overwhelmingly female diaconate for a time, as most men proceeded to be ordained priests
after a short time as a deacon.


Certificate of Ordination as a Deacon in the Church of England given by Richard Terrick,
the Bishop of London, to Gideon Bostwick. February 24, 1770
Anglican deacons may baptize and in some dioceses are granted licences to solemnize
matrimony, usually under the instruction of their parish priest and bishop. They commonly
officiate at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Deacons are not able to preside at the
eucharist (but can lead worship with the distribution of already-consecrated communion
elements where this is permitted), nor can they pronounce God's absolution of sin or
pronounce the Trinitiarian blessing.
[14]
In most cases, deacons minister alongside other
clergy.
An Anglican deacon wears an identical choir dress to an Anglican priest: cassock, surplice,
tippet and academic hood. However, liturgically, deacons usually wear a stole over their
left shoulder and fastened on the right side of their waist. This is worn both over the
surplice and the alb. A deacon might also wear a dalmatic.
Deaconesses[edit]
Main article: Deaconess
The title "women deacon" or "deaconess" appears in many documents from the early
Church period, particularly in the East. Their duties were often different from that of male
deacons; women deacons prepared adult women for baptism and they had a general
Apostolate to female Christians and catechumens (typically for the sake of modesty).
[15]

Women appear to have been ordained as deacons to serve the larger community until about
the 6th century in the West
[16]
and in the East until modern times.
Liturgies for the ordination of women deacons are quite similar to those for male
deacons
[17]
and the ancient ordination rites have been noted by groups like
Womenpriests.
[18]
Although it is sometimes argued that women deacons of history were not
sacramentally ordained in the full sense used in the present day in Canons 1008 and 1009 of
the Code of Canon Law,
[19]
some modern scholars argue that the ordination of women
deacons would have been equally sacramental to that of male deacons.
[20]

Currently, the Catholic Church has not restored women to the diaconate, although Vatican
statements have declined to state that this is not possible, as they have in the case of priestly
ordination. The Russian Orthodox Church had a female diaconate into the 20th century.
The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece restored a monastic female diaconate in
2004.
[21]

Lutheran churches[edit]
Missouri Synod (USA)[edit]
The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LC-MS) in the United States has special training
and certification programs for deaconesses. LC-MS deaconesses are trained at Concordia
University - Chicago or one of their two seminaries (St. Louis, MO or Fort Wayne, IN).
Internet based classes are also available through the Mission Training Center (MTC).
Deaconesses assist pastors in human care ministry and other roles with the goals of caring
for those in need and freeing pastors to focus on word and sacrament ministry. Acts chapter
6, verse 2 describes the function of deacons (servants) then and now, "So the Twelve
gathered all the disciples together and said, 'It would not be right for us to neglect the
ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.'"
Deaconesses are installed, not ordained, and remain lay persons. The word "ordain" is to be
reserved for the pastoral office.
[22]

A professional Deaconess (trained at the seminaries or Concordia University-Chicago) does
not ordinarily preach and only ordained pastors may administer the sacraments; although
she may perform baptism in cases of emergency.
The Atlantic District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has a Deacon Training
program that prepares men and women for ministries of Word and Service in the local
congregation. Students take the following courses of study at the Large Catechism level
over the course of two years: Christian Doctrine Summary; Interpreting the Bible in
Translation; Lutheran Worship I; OT Bible; Fundamental Pastoral Care; Basic Preaching;
NT Bible; Teaching the Faith; Mission Outreach in Context; and Church History I (Christ
to 1500 A.D.).
Atlantic District deacon students (male and female) who wish to seek commissioning as a
Deacon in a local congregation must complete a pre-internship interview, 200 intern hours
and their status as Deacon is under the authority of the local Pastoral Office. and a post-
internship interview. Students are commissioned for the local congregation According to
guidelines, Deacons shall be reviewed tri-annually by the Pastoral Office and the
congregational President of the local congregation where the Deacon serves. Other Districts
also train laymen and laywomen for service but the nomenclature varies by District.
Deacons, both the professional Deaconesses and the congregational and District trained
Deacons (male and female) are considered to hold ministries of Word and Service (as
opposed to Word and Sacrament).
Some with the nomenclature of "Deacon" are those training for ordination, although the
terms "seminarian" or "vicar" are preferred. Special exceptions may be made for these
Deacons who are vicars (training to become pastors) but must be given by the appropriate
District president in writing. (A vicar in the LC-MS is a third year seminarian who is doing
an internship under a pastor. It should not be confused with the same term in Anglican and
other church traditions.)
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America[edit]
Deaconess Community (ELCA/ELCIC)[edit]
The Deaconess Community, a community of women serving in the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) was
formed in 1884. These women, who bear the title of 'Sister', proclaim the gospel through
ministries of mercy and servant leadership on behalf of both churches for the sake of the
world. Since the 1970s the sisters have been allowed to marry.
Diaconal Ministers/Associates in Ministry (ELCA/ELCIC)[edit]
The diaconate was recognized and rostered by the ELCA in 1993, creating a fourth 'roster'
of recognized ministers (the other three being ordained, associates in ministry, and
deaconess) in the churchwide body. The community is still young and as such is still being
formed as to what styles and forms of ministry a diaconal minister pursues, as well as
practices and traditions of the same.
As in the Anglican Communion, Lutheran diaconal ministers are allowed to wear a stole
draped sideways from one shoulder and tied off at the waist, usually with some material left
hanging below. Diaconal ministers (the term "deacon" is used occasionally but not
officially) are involved in preaching, assisting in worship, leading worship in lieu of an
ordained pastor and other congregational duties; they are, however, primarily called to
service outside the church, in fields such as campus ministry, chaplaincy, congregational
ministry, counseling, social service agency work, spiritual direction, parish and community
nursing and a range of other avenues. A diaconal minister is "consecrated", rather than
"ordained". This ceremony is usually presided over by a bishop.
Also of note are the 'associates in ministry (AIM), a rostered position within the ELCA
consisting of laypersons commissioned into positions of service within the church, most
often as educators, musicians, and worship leaders. While there is a trend towards
combining the diaconal and associate ministries, the 'AIM' program continues in its own
right, and associates are spread across the entirety of the churchwide body. AIMs are
"commissioned" in the church and the hierarchy for service.
Porvoo Lutheran churches[edit]
The Porvoo Communion is a formally constituted union between the Anglican churches of
Ireland and Great Britain and the Lutheran churches of most of the Scandinavian and Baltic
states. These Lutheran churches administer holy orders in the same threefold ministry as the
Anglican Communion, with deacons ordained to their ministry. As a result the Porvoo
agreement allows for a complete freedom of exchange of ministries (of bishops and priests
as well as deacons) between the Anglican and Lutheran churches who are signatories.
Methodist churches[edit]
Methodist Church of Great Britain[edit]
Methodist Church of Great Britain has a Permanent Diaconate, based on an understanding
of the New Testament that Deacons have an equal, but distinct ministry from
Presbyters.
[23][24]
The original Wesleyan Deaconess Order was founded by Rev Thomas
Bowman Stephenson in 1890, following observation of new ministries in urban areas in the
previous years.
[25]
The order continued as the Wesley Deaconess Order following
Methodist Union in 1932, but, following the admission of women to "The Ministry" (as
presbyteral ministry is commonly termed in the Methodist Church), a number of
Deaconesses transferred and recruitment for the WDO ceased from 1978. The 1986
Methodist Conference
[26]
re-opened The Order to both men and women and the first
Ordinations to the renewed order occurred during the 1990 Conference in Cardiff, which
coincided with celebrations of 100 years of diaconal service in British Methodism;
deaconesses had previously been ordained at their annual convocation.
The United Methodist Church[edit]
In U.S. Methodism, the deacon began as a transitional order before a clergy person was
ordained elder. In 1996, The United Methodist Church ended the transitional deacon and
established a new Order of Deacons to be equal in status with the Order of Elders. Both
men and women may be ordained as deacons. Deacons serve in a variety of specialized
ministries including, but not limited to, Christian education, music, communications and
ministries of justice and advocacy. Unlike United Methodist elders, deacons must find their
own place of service. Nevertheless, the bishop does officially approve and appoint deacons
to their selected ministry.
[27]
Deacons may assist the elder in the administration of
Sacraments, but must receive special approval from a bishop before presiding over Baptism
and Holy Communion.
[28]

Other traditions[edit]
Deacons are also appointed or elected in other Protestant denominations, though this is less
commonly seen as a step towards the clerical ministry. The role of deacon in these
denominations varies greatly from denomination to denomination; often, there will be more
emphasis on administrative duties than on pastoral or liturgical duties. In some
denominations, deacons' duties are only financial management and practical aid and relief.
Elders handle pastoral and other administrative duties.
Amish[edit]
The Amish have deacons, but they are elected by a council and receive no formal training.
Baptists[edit]
Baptists have traditionally followed the principle of the autonomy of the local church
congregation, giving each church the ability to discern for themselves the interpretation of
scripture. Thus, the views among Baptist churches as to who becomes a deacon and when,
as well as what they do and how they go about doing it, vary greatly. Baptists recognize
two ordained positions in the church as Elders (Pastors) and Deacons, as per 1 Timothy,
third chapter.
There are Baptist churches where the deacons decide many of the church affairs. There are
churches where deacons serve in a family ministry only. There are Baptist churches
(especially in the United Kingdom, but also in the U.S. and elsewhere) where women are
allowed to be deacons; while many Baptist churches would never consider allowing a
woman to serve as a deacon.
In the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, deacons can be any adult male
member of the congregation who is in good standing.
In some African American Missionary Baptist churches and in churches affiliated with the
National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. male and female deacons serve as one board. Other
churches may have two separate boards of deacons and deaconesses. Most often the deacon
or deacon candidate is a long-standing member of the church, being middle aged, but
younger deacons may be selected from among members of a family that has had several
generations in the same church. They are elected by quorum vote annually. Their roles are
semi-pastoral in that they fill in for the pastor on occasion, or support the pastor vocally
during his sermon. They may also lead a special prayer service, generally known as "The
Deacon's Prayer." Their other roles are to accompany the pastor during Communion by
handing out the remembrances of bread and wine (or grape juice) and to set a good example
for others to follow. Their administrative duties sometimes include oversight of the
treasury, Sunday school curriculum, transportation, and various outreach ministries.
See Baptist Distinctives for a more detailed treatment of Deacons in churches in other
Associations, particularly the UK.
Church of Scotland[edit]
There are two distinct offices of Deacon in the Church of Scotland. The best known form of
diaconate are trained, paid pastoral workers, often working in parishes with considerable
social and economic deprivation. The permanent diaconate was formerly exclusively
female, and it was in the centenary year of the Diaconate (1988) that men were admitted to
the office of Deacon. Women could not be ordained as Ministers until 1968. The offices of
Deacon and Minister are now both open to both women and men; Deacons are now
ordained (they were previously "commissioned").
The other office of Deacon can be found in congregations formerly belonging to the pre-
1900 Free Church of Scotland, with a "Deacons' Court" having responsibility for financial
and administrative oversight of congregations. Only a few congregations still retain this
constitutional model, with most having since adopted the Church of Scotland's "Model
Constitution" (with a Kirk Session and Congregational Board) or "Unitary Congregation"
(with just a Kirk Session). Most of the Free Church congregations united with the United
Presbyterian Church of Scotland in 1900 creating the United Free Church of Scotland,
which itself united with the Church of Scotland in 1929.
The congregations of the Free Church of Scotland (post 1900) which did not join the UF
Church in 1900 continue to have Deacons.
Uniting Church in Australia[edit]
In the Uniting Church in Australia, the diaconate is one of two offices of ordained ministry.
The other is Minister of the Word.
Deacons in the Uniting Church are called to minister to those on the fringes of the church
and be involved in ministry in the community. A deacon is a pathfinder. They go where
others have not gone before and light the way for the church to respond to where people in
the community are hurting, disadvantaged and oppressed. A deacon is a community
builder. Not always having congregation, they begin with scattered people and shape them
into a community. A deacon is an evangelist. They share the good news of the gospel with
people in the community.
Due to shortages in diaconal placements in the Uniting Church, deacons are often serving
in similar or exact placements to ministers of the Word.
It is also acknowledged that both the "Ministry of the Word" and the "Ministry of Deacon"
have a number of overlaps and not one particular ministry is restricted to any particular
ordination.
In the Uniting Church both ministers of the word and deacons are styled The Reverend.
Presbyterian Church (USA/PCA)[edit]
Individual congregations of these church denominations also elect deacons, along with
elders. However, in some churches the property-functions of the diaconate and session of
elders is commended to an independent board of trustees. John Calvin's legacy of restoring
a servant-ministry diaconate
[29]
lives on in the Presbyterian churches. Deacons are specially
charged with ministries of mercy, especially toward the sick and the poor
[30]
.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[edit]
Main articles: Deacon (Latter Day Saints) and Priesthood (Latter Day Saints)
The office of Deacon is generally open to all 12- and 13-year-old male members of the
church; all are encouraged to become Deacons. Duties include:
1. Gather fast offerings.
2. Pass the sacrament.
3. Serve as the bishops messenger.
4. Care for the grounds and physical facilities of the church.
5. Assist in service projects or welfare assignments as assigned by the bishop.
6. Watch over the Church and act as standing ministers (see D&C 84:111).
7. Be involved in missionary and reactivation efforts (see D&C 20:5859).
8. Assist teachers in all their duties as needed (see D&C 20:53, 57).
9. Give talks in Church meetings.
Church of Christ[edit]
The role of deacons in this church is also widely varied. Generally they are put in control of
various programs of a congregation. They are servants, as the etymology indicates, of the
church. They are under the subjection of the elders, as is the rest of the congregation. Their
qualifications are found in the New Testament, in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 (Waddey, John; et al.
1981).
New Apostolic Church[edit]
In the New Apostolic Church, the deacon ministry is a local ministry. A deacon mostly
works in his home congregation to support the priests. If a priest is unavailable, a deacon
will hold a divine service, without the act of communion (Only Priests and up can
consecrate Holy Communion).
Jehovah's Witnesses[edit]
Deacons among Jehovah's Witnesses are referred to as ministerial servants, claiming it
preferable to translate the descriptive Greek term used in the Bible rather than merely
transliterate it as though it were a title.
[31]
Appointed ministerial servants aid elders in
congregational duties. Like the elders, they are adult baptized males
[32]
and serve
voluntarily.
[33]

Cognates[edit]
The Greek word diakonos () gave rise to the following terms from the history of
Russia, not to be confused with each other: "dyak", "podyachy", "dyachok", in addition to
"deacon" and "protodeacon".
Scots usage[edit]
In Scots language, the title deacon is used for a head-workman, a master or chairman of a
trade guild, or one who is adept, expert and proficient. The term deaconry refers to the
office of a deacon or the trade guild under a deacon.
The most famous holder of this title was Deacon Brodie who was a cabinet-maker and
president of the Incorporation of Wrights and Masons as well as being a Burgh councillor
of Edinburgh, but at night led a double life as a burglar. He is thought to have inspired the
story of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
See also[edit]

Christianity portal
Archdeacon
Cardinal deacon
Deaconess
Diakonissa
Protodeacon
Subdeacon
Footnotes[edit]
1. ^ "deacon". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
Retrieved 2008-08-17.
2. ^ Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert (1889). An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford:
Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-910206-6. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
3. ^ Partridge, Eric (1983). Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English. New York:
Greenwich House. ISBN 0-517-41425-2.
4. ^ Thurston, Herbert (1913). "Deacons". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton
Company. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
5. ^ Hopko, Thomas. "Holy Orders". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
6. ^ Charles M. Wilson, A few additional observations
url=http://www.ewtn.com/library/CANONLAW/WOMENDEA.htm
7. ^ USCCB Diaconate FAQ - Section 5 "Is a Deacon ordained for the Parish or the Diocese?"
http://www.usccb.org/deacon/faqs.shtml
8. ^ Canon 281 3.
9. ^ Details about the permanent diaconate in the United States are outlined in a 2005 document of the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and
Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States.
url=http://nccbuscc.org/deacon/DeaconDirectory.pdf
10. ^ USCCB - Committee on the Liturgy - Chapter IV
11. ^ http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/motu_proprio/documents/hf_p-vi_motu-
proprio_19670618_sacrum-diaconatus_en.html
12. ^ (National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United
States, 2005, pg. 36)
13. ^ "Etiquette and Protocol". Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
14. ^ The Christian Faith: Ch 63- Ordination- (2) As a Sacrament
15. ^ John Wijngaards, The Tasks of Women Deacons
url=http://www.womendeacons.org/intro/deac_tas.shtml and Duane L.C.M. Galles, Women Deacons
- Are they Possible? url=http://www.ewtn.com/library/CANONLAW/WOMENDEA.htm
16. ^ Matthew Smythe, Deaconesses in Late Antique Gaul
url=http://www.womendeacons.org/history/deac_smy.shtml
17. ^ Thurston, Herbert (1908). "Deaconesses". The Catholic Encyclopedia IV. New York: Robert
Appleton Company. Retrieved 2007-06-23.
18. ^ http://www.womenpriests.org/deacons/default.asp and
http://www.womendeacons.org/rite/hobart.shtml
19. ^ Aim Georges Martimort, Deaconesses: An Historical Study (Ignatius Press, 1986, ISBN 0-89870-
114-7)
20. ^ R. Gryson, The Ministry of Women in the Early Church (Collegeville 1976, p. 120); C.Vagaggini
L'Ordinazione delle diaconesse nella tradizione greca e bizantina, (Orientalia Christiana Periodica
40 (1974) 145-189; here p. 188); P. Hnermann, Conclusions regarding the Female Diaconate
(Theological Studies 36 (1975) 325-333; here pp. 327-328); A Thiermeyer, Der Diakonat der Frau
(Theologisch Quartalschrift 173 (1993) 226-236; here pp. 233-234); P. Hofrichter, Diakonat und
Frauen im kirchlichen Amt (Heiliger Dienst 50 (1996) 140-158; esp. 152-154); A. Jensen, Das Amt
der Diakonin in der kirchlichen Tradition der ersten Jahrtausend (Diakonat. Ein Amt fr Frauen in
der Kirche - Ein frauengerechtes Amt?, Ostfildern 1997, pp. 33-52; here p. 49); D. Ansorge, Der
Diakonat der Frau. Zum gegenwrtigen Forschungsstand (in T.Berger/A.Gerhards (ed.), Liturgie
und Frauenfrage, St. Odilien 1990, 31-65; here pp. 46-47; Chr. Bttigheimer, Der Diakonat der
Frau (Mnchener Theologische Zeitschrift 47 (1996) 253-266; here p. 261-262); K. Karidoyanes
Fitzgerald (Women Deacons in the Orthodox Church, Brookline 1998, pp. 120-121); P. Zagano,
Holy Saturday. An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church
(New York 2000, pp. 98-102); D. Reininger, Diakonat der Frau in der einen Kirche (Ostfildern
1999, p. 126); G. Macy, W.T. Ditewig, P. Zagano Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future (Mahwah,
NJ: Paulist Press 2010); and J. Wijngaards, Women Deacons in the Early Church. Historical Texts
and Contemporary Debates (Herder & Herder, New York 2002).
21. ^ url=http://westernorthodoxy.org/pdf/restored.pdf
22. ^ "The Ministry: Offices, Procedures, and Nomenclature" A Report of the Commission on Theology
and Church Relations of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, September 1981, p. 22
23. ^ Methodist Church web-site Deacons page
http://www.methodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=churchlife.content&cmid=1574
24. ^ Methodist Diaconal Order web-site Two Orders of Ministry page
http://www.methodistdiaconalorder.org.uk/default.asp?page=7
25. ^ Methodist Diaconal Order web-site history page
http://www.methodistdiaconalorder.org.uk/default.asp?page=32
26. ^ The Methodist Conference web-site http://www.methodistconference.org.uk
27. ^ Deacons & Diaconal Ministers, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry
http://www.gbhem.org/site/c.lsKSL3POLvF/b.3589309/k.86F7/Deacons__Diaconal_Ministers.htm
28. ^ The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 2008, para. 328
29. ^ [1]
30. ^ The Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church of America: Chapter 9 - The Deacon,
Section 9-2
31. ^ "Questions From Readers", The Watchtower, June 15, 1962, page 383-384, "The religious words
or titles 'bishop' and 'deacon' are simply words that have been more or less closely transliterated into
the English language; that is, they are carried over much like the way they appear in the Greek
instead of being translated. These two words are epskopos and dikonos. ...However, at an early
time the apostate church made titles out of these designations and applied them to men who held
positions...known as 'bishops' and 'deacons'. ...New World Translation as well as certain others, such
as An American Translation, do not render epskopos and dikonos as titles but according to the
meaning of the words, as 'overseers' or 'superintendents' and as 'assistants' or 'ministerial servants'."
[emhasis retained from original]
32. ^ "Those 'Acquiring a Fine Standing'", Our Kingdom Ministry, September 1978, page 1, "The Bible
sets high standards for a ministerial servant. (1 Tim. 3:8-10, 12) Brothers recommended should
clearly be meeting these. Becoming a ministerial servant is no routine thing; it is not as if almost
every adult, baptized male should have the position as a sort of titleholder. Ministerial servants
should be exemplary, spiritual men."
33. ^ "Congregations for Building Up in Love and Unity", Doing Gods Will , 1986 Watch Tower,
page 12, "As in the first century, so today, qualified, mature, and experienced Christian men are
designated as elders, or overseers [among Jehovah's Witnesses]. These supervise the congregation
and look after its spiritual needs. They are assisted by other faithful men known as ministerial
servants. These men receive no salary or other financial benefit but serve voluntarily, meeting their
own expenses"
References[edit]
Church of Christ[edit]
Introducing the Church of Christ. Star Bible Publications, Fort Worth, Texas 76182.
Evangelicalism & the Stone-Campbell Movement (William R. Baker, ed. Downers
Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002) for essays on Church of Christ ecclesiology.
Thatcher, Tom; "The Deacon in the Pauline Church" in Christs Victorious Church:
Essays on Biblical Ecclesiology and Eschatology (Jon A. Weatherly, ed. Eugene,
OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001).
Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church[edit]
DeaconsSt Mary's Malankara Orthodox Syrian Cathedral (Philadelphia, PA,
USA)
Lutheran Church[edit]
Concordia Deaconess Conference
Lutheran Deaconess Association
External links[edit]

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