|Defining the United Methodist diaconate|
By United Methodist News Service
May 9, 2007
In The United Methodist Church, the term diaconate most
often refers to those whom the church has commissioned, consecrated or
ordained to lead the church in servant ministry. Diaconate and its other
names grow from the Greek roots diakonos (servant) or diakonia (service).
Here are some common terms and definitions:
Deacon: Clergy ordained since 1996 to the ministry
of word and service to both the community and the congregation in a
ministry that connects worship with service to God in the world. Deacons
teach and proclaim the Word, assist elders in administering the
sacraments, form and nurture disciples, conduct marriages and bury the
dead, lead the congregation's mission to the world and interpret the
needs, concerns and hopes of the world. Appointed by the bishop to
ministry in a local congregation or in a church-related, faith-based or
secular setting. (Most United Methodist elders who began preparing for
ordination prior to 1996 were first ordained deacon.)
Deaconess/Home Missioner: A laywoman (deaconess) or
layman (home missioner) commissioned by a bishop, on recommendation of
the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, to share faith in Jesus
Christ through ministries of love, justice and service. Appointed for
service in any agency or program of The United Methodist Church and in
other agencies or programs if approved by the Office of Deaconess and
Home Missioner of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries in
consultation with the bishop.
Diaconal Minister: Laity called to specialized
ministries of service, justice and love, consecrated by a bishop and
appointed to a local congregation or in a church-related, faith-based or
secular setting. No new candidates for diaconal ministry were accepted
after Jan. 1, 1997.
Deacons, as clergy, are members of an annual conference. Deaconesses,
home missioners and diaconal ministers are members of a local church
and lay members of an annual conference.
Source: Definitions adapted from The Book of Discipline and the glossary found on www.umc.org, the denominational Web site.
*Noble is editor of Interpreter, a publication of United Methodist Communications and the official ministry magazine of The United Methodist Church.
News media contact: Kathy Noble, Nashville, 615-742-5470, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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