Deacons are members of the ordained Christian ministry, along with priests and bishops. The word deacon is a derivative of the Greek word diákonos, which means servant, minister, or messenger. Hence, in the Episcopal Church a deacon exercises a special ministry of servanthood. He/she serves under the Bishop, and “in the name of Jesus Christ, serves all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely” (BCP 543).
Deacons appear in Acts 6:1-6, as the 12 Disciples ministered the Word of God in the growing church, so they needed servants to oversee the charity work. They asked for 7 men from amongst the believers who were “full of the Spirit and wisdom.” Stephen, Philip, and Nicolas from Antioch, amongst others, were presented, and the Apostles prayed as they laid hands on them. Further development of the requirements for deaconship are found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.
According to episcopalchurch.org, since ancient times, as deacons “proclaim the gospel, lead intercessions, wait at the eucharistic table, and direct the order of the assembly, deacons act as sacred messengers, agents, and attendants.” This is for both permanent and transitional deacons like me. But, what does this all mean to me? Well, first of all that I am a servant, and will always be. As an apostle of Christ, I will actively exercise my Baptismal vows to serve you.
As such, I will serve as a bridge between the world and the church. I see my role as that of a faithful steward, ensuring the good ordering of the liturgical celebration; bringing the needs of the congregation to Father Mike, offering prayers, and ensuring your needs are met; humbly proclaiming the Gospel during the liturgy and leading others to live out their calling as missionary disciples of Christ; and advocating for the spiritual and other needs of the faithful, while encouraging active participation in the life and work of our Church as guided by Father Mike.
As St. Augustine said, “For you I am a deacon, with you I am a Christian.” I also want you to know how thankful and humbled I’ve been for your warm and welcoming spirit during my mentorship, as well as now as your deacon. All I ask of you is that you pray for me, as I will pray for you as well.
Peacefully your servant in Christ, – Deacon Arnoldo +