|Survey reveals misunderstanding of deacon’s role|
Revs. Jeannie Trevino-Teddlie (left) and Margaret Ann Crain (right),
United Methodist deacons, celebrate Holy Communion with Bishop Janice
at the 2006 International Clergywomen’s Consultation in Chicago.
A UMNS file photo by Vicki Brown.
A UMNS Report
By Vicki Brown*
April 6, 2009 | NASHVILLE, Tenn.
Deacons believe they are accepted and valued but misunderstood,
according to a survey of deacons, diaconal ministers and those
certified in specialized ministry in The United Methodist Church.
Results of the survey, completed in 2008, were reported during a
Division of Ordained Ministry session at the United Methodist Board of
Higher Education and Ministry’s spring meeting. Michelle Fugate, the
agency’s director of research and data management, said 49 percent of
those who received the survey responded, meaning 1,521 responses were
The presentation focused on demographics, appointments, salary level
and job satisfaction of deacons – ordained, commissioned, and
“Everyone may not understand the deacons’ role, but deacons feel
valued,” said Fugate, adding that 63 percent of the 1,108 deacons who
responded to the survey felt the Order of Deacons was accepted by the
church, but 65 percent felt the order was misunderstood.
According to the 2008 Book of Discipline, deacons respond to God’s
call to lead in service and to equip others for this ministry through
teaching, proclamation and worship. They also assist elders in the
administration of the sacraments.
The Rev. Anita Wood, the agency’s director of professional
development, said she was surprised to find that 21 percent of deacons
appointed in the local church selected the title or identified
themselves as associate pastor in the survey.
“Deacons are not pastors and that indicates that we have some work
to do in communicating the role of the deacon in connecting the church
and the world,” she said.
The Rev. Carolyn Peterson, an ordained deacon and vice chair of
Division of Ordained Ministry, said she believes bishops and churches
give deacons the title of associate pastor. “I don’t think deacons are
taking that title on themselves,” she said.
The survey found 60 percent of deacons were serving in the local
church, 32 percent in appointments beyond the local church and 8
percent were listed as other. Fugate said most of those were still in
The most common local church appointments for ordained deacons were
associate pastor, minister of education, and minister of music. For
commissioned deacons, the most common appointments were associate
pastor, children’s minister, and minister of education. For candidates,
the most common appointment was youth minister, followed by minister of
education, associate pastor, and music minister.
Fugate divided appointments beyond the local church into
church-related appointments and non-church appointments. The most
common church-related were chaplain, annual conference or district
staff, and general board or agency staff. The most common non-church
appointments were teacher, administrator and advocacy or social justice
The median annual salary for a primary appointment was $19,000 for
part-time – $18,000 for part-time in the local church, and $23,000 for
beyond the local church. For fulltime appointments, the median salary
was $45,000 –$43,000 in the local church and $49,000 in appointments
beyond the local church.
- 76 percent are female
- 92 percent are white, 5 percent African American
percent have at least a master’s degree, and 6 percent have a
doctorate. Many candidates have not yet completed their education.
- Average age is 49.75 years old
- 95 percent find real enjoyment in their work
- 88 percent are satisfied with their job
- 78 percent believe their roles are valued.
To read the full report, http://www.gbhem.org/atf/cf/%7B0bcef929-bdba-4aa0-968f-d1986a8eef80%7D/PUB_DEACONREPORT2008.PDF
*Brown is associate editor and writer in the Office of
Interpretation, United Methodist Board of Higher Education and
Ministry. News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry