If your parish is looking for a deacon

Deacons, according to the Book of Common Prayer, are called “to a special ministry of servanthood . . . [to] the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely” (p. 543).

Because of their training, deacons can also minister to youth or to immigrants, help with parish administration, lead education programs, or be involved with most any parish or community ministry. Deacons are assigned by the bishop to work in a particular parish as a colleague to a rector or vicar, and they are assigned for a particular ministry.

Should your parish have a deacon?
Does your parish need a deacon? A deacon can help broaden a parish’s understanding of the church, by presenting a different type of ordained ministry (presider vs. service), by being a focus for a different approach (starting a ministry, or rejuvenating an old one), and by involving more people (deacons encourage the service of others more than they do it by themselves). A deacon can help a priest by being an extra set of ears, eyes, and hands, and be a trained partner in the ordained ministry.

How many deacons are available in the diocese?
As of mid-2009, there are approximately 55 active deacons in the Diocese of New Jersey, not enough for our many parishes. Deacons, however, also move around frequently: their skills are needed elsewhere, some parish relationships don’t work out, rectors leave and circumstances change.

The Archdeacon for Deployment maintains a roster of parishes which would be interested in having a deacon on staff. When a deacon ends one parish relationship, he/she is encouraged to take some time off for reflection and prayer, and then asked to look at a selection of parishes within reasonable driving distance of his/her home. Those selections are developed by the archdeacon.

Consider the following questions
If you and your parish are interested in having a deacon, you should consider the following questions:

  • What ministries is your parish looking to start or expand?
  • What support can you and the parish provide (e.g., staff meetings, travel or study allowance)?
  • Can the deacon take on the usual roles of a deacon in the Sunday liturgy (read the Gospel, call the people to prayer and to confession, set the table, dismiss the people) without having other people feel as if they are losing a role in the liturgy?
  • Can you work with a deacon as a colleague, or are you seeking another staff member?
  • Do you want someone who can assist with preaching?

You may also want to take a look at principles of engaging a deacon and the model letter of agreement for deacons. Also, know that celebrations of “deacon’s masses” are not allowed, per directive of Bishop Stokes.

For more information
Contact one of our archdeacons. Please contact them to place your parish on the list of interested placements or if you have questions about how to engage a deacon.