This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Order of the Deacon, which was established in 1996 in the United Methodist Church.
Deacons are called by God and ordained by a bishop for a lifetime of ministry. They serve as a witness to God’s Word, especially to the marginalized, the oppressed and the suffering. Their responsibilities include training fellow Christians to fulfill their own ministries of compassion and justice to the world.
The Deacon Studies program at Saint Paul School of Theology prepares students for service through teaching, discipleship and leadership. Deacons fill a number of ministry roles, both in a church setting and out in their surrounding communities.
Deacons in the Church
Ordained deacons have the authority to lead many aspects of worship and to assist elders in administering sacraments including Baptism and Holy Communion. They may conduct funerals and, in some states, perform weddings. Other worship duties commonly performed by the deacon include:
- Gospel readings
- Leading prayers for the world, the church and the needy
- Leading the Lord’s prayer
- Receiving the offering
- Dismissing worshippers before the elder offers the benediction
Outside of worship services, deacons can serve in a wide range of other ministry roles within the life of a congregation:
- Disciple formation
- Christian education
- Mission outreach
- Parish visitation
- Youth ministry
- Business administration
Deacons in Community Settings
Deacons often work to share Christ’s love with the world outside of a traditional church. Those who are appointed to non-church settings will be assigned to a local congregation. They will then take on missional responsibility for leading other Christians into various ministries in the surrounding area.
Ministry settings may include ecumenical agencies and other organizations that serve the neglected, the marginalized and those with deep needs:
- Disaster relief
- Hospice programs
- Homeless ministries
- Unemployment ministries
Many deacons also take on various roles within organizations affiliated with the United Methodist Church. This may include teaching or administration in schools, colleges or seminaries, or service to various UMC agencies.
Those discerning a call to the deaconate are encouraged to spend time in prayer and to speak with their local pastor, deacon and church staff. This should be followed by a meeting with the District Committee on Ordained Ministry and a review of the qualifications for ordination.
At Saint Paul, we have prepared many students for a life of creative ministry as a deacon. We offer online, in-person and hybrid learning options that let you pursue your degree in an environment tailored to your needs.