Written by Julie Long, Interim Director of Staff and Congregational Life

Today (Sunday, January 28), marks a significant annual event in the life of our church – deacon ordination and installation. Each year in January, we set apart deacons for a new three-year term of service, offering our collective blessing upon them through a service of prayer and covenant and laying on of hands.

In our congregation, the purpose of deacons is to “promote the spiritual well-being of the church,” in the language of our newly-revised organizational manual. Deacons here do not serve as the administrative and authoritative body of the church; deacons are our spiritual caregivers. Most often, we see this in their worship leadership through prayer and communion and their care for members through their assigned family ministry and visitation. Perhaps their most important leadership comes through the less visible work of offering wisdom and discernment as we try to follow the moving of the Spirit in our life as a community of faith. They are the caretakers of the soul of the church.

We remind our deacons as their term of service begins that the congregation is not asking them to measure up to some unattainable standard of holiness or perfection or to pretend to be someone that they do not think they can be. We call them to serve as deacons because we have already seen in them the gifts of compassion, service, care, discernment and prudence that they will use to lead us. In their ordination, we are naming and calling these gifts forth from them in the service of the church.

Each member of the church has been assigned a deacon to be “your” deacon for the coming year. If you do not already know the deacon to whom you belong, you should hear from him or her soon. Let your deacon know when something is going on in your life or the life of your family so that they can pray for you and offer support in tangible ways. Let them be a physical representation and extension of the care of this congregation for you.

I am so grateful for the extra ways that our deacons have stepped in offer support and care for our congregation during this season of pastoral transition. I have been reminded time and time again that ministers may come and go, but the church remains the church, and our deacons and other lay leaders have proven this in their dedication to leading and caring for us well.

Thanks be to God for our deacons and for the ways that they nurture, love and serve us.

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