The role of the deacon was established fairly early the history of the Christian Church when it became apparent that there was a particular need for a ministry that would  focus on caring for the poor, the sick, the marginalized, and the lonely.  Although some of the specific aspects of the diaconate have evolved and changed over time, caring for those who are often seen as being on the fringes of society has remained.

The deacon of today is fairly easy to spot in an Anglican church.  We are the clergy that wear our stoles on a diagonal from left shoulder to the right hip.  This is to symbolize that our hands are free to serve.  And, ultimately, that is the deacon’s role:  to serve.

There are four primary tasks that the deacon traditionally performs during the Eucharist:  reading the Gospel, laying the table (altar), leading the Lord’s Prayer, and giving the dismissal.  Occasionally, the deacon will also give the homily.  Typically, this will focus on the needs of the secular world so that issues like social justice or the environment will be brought to the attention of the Church with the intent of leading the people to some form of action.

There are two types of deacons in our tradition.  Transitional deacons are in the process of becoming priests, and their diaconal time serving the Church and community is intended to help with their formation as priests.  Vocational deacons, on the other hand, have a calling to permanently remain in a diaconal role.  As such, they often have a “dual career”, earning their living in the secular world while also working within the Church in a voluntary capacity


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