web analytics
Living Well - service and gratitude

liturgy RSS feed liturgy on twitter liturgy facebook

deacons

This post makes little sense unless you are aware of the common NZ Anglican practice of having a lay person “lead the first half of the Eucharist”. [Such a “lay worship leader” is often called a “liturgist” sic!] The practice appears to have developed from the union of three different trends

  • The desire to give laity a greater leadership within church services
  • The initial idea of the NZ Prayer Book revision commission to not have a special rite as an office (Liturgy of the Word) but to be able to use the “first half of the Eucharist” as that, and hence writing rubrics that enabled lay people lead and use such an office. These rubrics continued uncritically into revisions.
  • The custom of seminarians training for ordination to lead parts of the Eucharist while at the seminary/theological college that did not require ordination as a way of practising and forming their liturgical leadership. They then uncritically took this into their parish ministry – continuing having laypeople lead those parts without any realisation that this undid the very intention of what they had been training and being formed for.

I think there are significant issues for such lay leadership. It can

  • reduce priesthood to a magic role
  • clericalise the laity
  • totally confuse the concept of lay ministry
  • disenfranchise the assembly from understanding themselves as full participants and
  • increase the amount of words, especially re-cluttering the vestibule of the gathering of the people in order to give the lay worship leader something to do.

Recently I was at a Eucharist where a deacon was leading with the presider. But after bringing in the Bible at the start, the next thing the deacon “did” was read the Gospel. And the next was prepare the altar table… The deacon did not call to confession, introduce and conclude the intercessions,… When I spoke to the deacon about this I was (unsurprisingly) informed of a variety of practices. I was also told of a general desire not to take over the now-understood roles of “lay worship leaders”. “So sometimes deacons are worship leaders and sometimes not.” I understand fully the need to be able to adapt ideal into the concrete real. In this Eucharist, however, the deacon’s role was not being usurped by a “lay worship leader” it was taken on by the presider!

Once again, although I might write things a bit differently to what I wrote two decades ago, I think my thoughts in Celebrating Eucharist about The deacon at a Eucharist are still a good starting-point for reflection:

A pattern of leadership within the Eucharist which complements that of the presider is provided by the roles traditionally assigned to the deacon. These roles include introducing the confession, proclaiming the Gospel and sometimes preaching, providing leadership for the Prayers of the People, inviting the congregation to exchange the Peace, preparing the holy table and setting the bread and wine upon it, assisting at the elevation at the end of the Great Thanksgiving, helping distribute the bread and wine, and dismissing the congregation.

This book is advocating that many of these tasks be done by lay people. In a community in which there is a deacon, this deacon should not take back all these ministries from the laity but s/he can appropriately be seen as the leader of these diaconal tasks. Deacons can, for example, train and roster people in leading the Prayers of the People, and lead the Prayers themselves on occasion. This leadership of these ministries can be expressed in the service by the deacon sitting (and standing) immediately to the right of the presider. If there are concelebrating presbyters (priests), they should not usurp the deacon’s place. It is preferable to conceive of concelebrating presbyters as being more a part of the assembly rather than giving the impression that they are presiding as a committee.

With the growing renewal and restoration of the diaconate, it is worth reflecting on the integrity of that order. Priests damage this integrity when they dress as deacons rather than as presbyters in the liturgy.

It appears that these issues may not be confined to New Zealand. This deacon pointed me to a report by the The Faith and Order Advisory Group of the Church of England, The Mission and Ministry: Biblical, theological and contemporary perspectives of the Whole Church

At the present time, some Readers* are experiencing a crisis of morale: they are feeling squeezed between their ordained colleagues, on the one hand, and the upsurge of local expressions of lay ministry, on the other. Some Readers, it seems, would not welcome any encouragement of a distinctive diaconate, seeing the ministry of deacons as too close to their own for comfort. We do not think that a solution to this difficulty, which has been identified by Readers themselves, lies in an enlargement of the canonical duties of Readers.

In some RC dioceses there is reluctance to introduce (married) “permanent” deacons because they may take away roles from lay people – particularly because RC deacons must be male and so could take away ministry now done by some women as well as men.

* There are about ten thousand “Readers” in the Church of England. A Reader is a layperson authorised by a bishop to lead some parts of a service of worship. This includes being authorised to preach. They may exercise this ministry in the absence of a priest. In this present form they have existed since 1866.

Similar Posts:

Share

38 Responses to deacons

  1. Fr Bosco,
    I love your passion. Thank You for all your thoughtful insights.
    So, as someone who has served as a Lay Eucharistic Minister in 3 parishes, I’ll say what we all know. It’s Christ in us who makes the person and it’s the person who makes the ministry. We’ve all seen empty hands, placed on empty heads, with emptiness transferred. In a blog post http://bobholmes.blogspot.com/2010/12/problem-with-church.html I’ve tried to lay out our problem with some compassion.
    I hope this helps.
    Your brother in Christ,
    Bob

    • Thanks, Bob. Your reminder is timely – God is the focus and God can act in spite of our mess; and our wooden following of regulations etc. is no guarantee of God’s efficacious action. Blessings.

  2. Hi Bosco – been a while since I’ve commented, but liked this one so much I wanted to say something.

    I think within the Anglican Communion there is something of a crisis of Orders, actually, not so much a crisis as a confusion. For those (like myself) who want to stress the priesthood of all believers, whilst still recognising that God has somehow set out a threefold order of ministry (Bishops, Priests and Deacons) we find ourselves in something of a cleft stick. When we encourage lay members (I am a priest) to have an active role in Eucharistic leadership it becomes, I feel, all the more conspicuous to pop up and do ‘the magic bits’ of Absolution, Eucharistic Presidency and Blessing. Yet if I take the full role I feel a Priest should have I feel that I am squeezing out lay ministry.

    I believe strongly in the unity of the Eucharist and anything which distracts from it being a unified whole I feel uncomfortable with. I tend to take pretty much all of the service – with lay input to readings and intercessions, and authorised Ministers, lay or ordained, preaching. Part of me would love to have a more relaxed structure, but another part of me wonders exactly what my role would be as Priest with a different shape to the Eucharist.

    I tend, therefore, to encourage Lay participation and leadership in Services of the Word; of which we have a great variety. I also train lay ministers to lead worship and encourage greater involvement in the whole worshipping life of the Church. It is easier, in some ways, just to leave the issue of Eucharistic leadership alone, so a post like this one is a healthy, helpful and thought provoking contribution, thank you.

    • Alastair, I think that we appear to be very much on the same page here. I, like you want to stress the priesthood (ἱερεύς) of all believers whilst acknowledging my own vocation as a presbyter (priest πρεσβύτερος) – I would regularly phrase it as the “ministry of all the baptised”. I think there is more lay leadership in the Eucharist than we regularly acknowledge and if we trained and exercised that well – wow what a community we might be: the leadership of encouraging people along with us to worship, the leadership of welcoming at the door, the leadership of sitting alongside newcomers if they are comfortable with that and guiding them when needed in a service, readings proclaimed well, psalms cantored well, music led well, prayers led well, and so on and so forth. I also think we so easily clutter up the Eucharist with more and more and more words – less is more; and if we trimmed down the bits we lead as the presider the Eucharist might actually “work” better. Just some thoughts to add to your helpful ones… Blessings

  3. Bosco, in so many parishes deacons are but partially ordained priests. They are hired on to many parish staffs as all sorts of roles and completely intermingled with priests in these various functions. In fact a deacon may follow a priest as the next hiree for the same parish position.

    And yet I think that we have completely lost the theology of the three orders of ordained ministry. We have pretty much lost our theology of the bishop as the chief pastor of the diocese, so we also subsequently lost the theology of the two distinct orders which assist the bishop as the chief pastor of the diocese. Two orders of ministry which are not the same and are not composed of interchangeable personnel based on who applies for the job and is hired. Until we recover these theologies of the three orders of ministry I see us continuing to flounder in a sea of deep confusion.

    That said, and if you are catching what I mean by a theology of the order of deacons as a role extending from the bishop, what duties of a deacon would result naturally in their place in the worshiping liturgy of a parish as a result of their ordained position in the life of the parish.

    • Thanks, Brother David – what you are writing I think is very important. I think the primary ministry of the deacon is community/world-facing; and the primary ministry of the priest is church-facing. Obviously, I don’t think that these are totally separate. But they are, I might image, the leading of the breathing out and breathing in of the Body of Christ; leading the Body of Christ dispersing and the Body of Christ gathering. A lot of what I think of as being led by the deacon in the Eucharist follows naturally from this perspective IMO. Blessings.

  4. Bosco, I think there is a case for including lay voices in the Eucharistic feast, but to give that voice to deacons simply makes it look even more like it’s a clergy club. I think there needs to be clarity as to why we ordain priests to preside over the Eucharist, and when other voices are heard, make sure they represent the body of the church.

    I always liked Lesslie Newbigin’s argument about ordination. If we ordain people at all, he said, it’s to preside over the sacraments. Any other reason for ordination is to make one Christian more important than another.

    Hence – the priest handles the sacraments. Anything else may be lay duties, but not specially reserved for deacons.

    • Thanks for your comment, Maggi. There are parts of it I understand and agree with – other parts I’m not sure where this leads. I struggle to imagine a Eucharist without lay voices, and do not agree with, for example, the priest proclaiming all the readings – as does happen. I think some of your points may lead to the conclusion of not ordaining deacons? That is a valid discussion. Blessings.

  5. Thanks, Bosco. In many ways the worst form of “clericalism” is to assume that the people can only “actively participate” if they are delegated the roles properly filled by the clergy. I would very much like to see a true restoration of the diaconate as a necessary ministry in local church life. And I must say, I have finally come round to your thinking on the matter of priests vesting as deacons. If the Eucharist is creative and reconstitutive of the Church, then those gathered to celebrate should look like the Church. We must therefore restore the diaconate, if for no other reason than to ensure that there’s always someone to wear the dalmatic! 🙂

    On your response to Brother David, I must say I’ve usually seen it slightly differently. At least in the liturgical context, the presbyter/priest seems to be God-facing, and the deacon is alternately people- and presbyter-facing. This is clearest in the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, where the priest generally does nothing without first being invited to do so by the deacon, who acts as the people’s representative to the presbyter (“Master, bless the holy bread”); and the people are likewise called to do things by the deacon (“Let us pray… Let us attend…”). The deacon’s role in leading intercession is characteristic. (A notable exception is “Peace be to all”, which is always said on the priest or bishop’s initiative — it makes me think of Christ’s post-resurrection appearances.)

    Ignatius’s understanding of the bishop as the “image of the Father” and of the deacon as “like Jesus Christ” (Trallians 3:1) doubtless arises from this sort of liturgical activity. That traditional role of the deacon has today, I think, been largely undercut by universal literacy and the cheap availability of books: the people are able just to read out the prayers themselves. Something could be said in favour of taking our people’s books away. Our prayer is ironically more unified when we listen to a single voice and respond with our assent.

    There is a lot of debate today about whether the now widely accepted idea of the diaconate as a “world-facing servant-ministry” actually has any historical basis. It would seem that, in many cases, this concept of the diaconate has been invented to characterize the three historic orders in such a way as to make them ecumenically attractive to traditions that have emphasized a single “ministry of the Word”. Essential reading on the subject is John N. Collins, Diakonia: Re-Interpreting the Ancient Sources (Oxford: OUP, 1990). The various reviews of that book deal with its implications for current understandings of holy orders. It is noteworthy that even in the old BCP the deacon’s role is not to minister to the sick, but to tell the curate if there is anyone sick in the parish so that the curate may visit.

    • Jesse, thank you for your full and thoughtful comment. There is so much to think about here. I continue to think through your point about who wears the dalmatic. [Who wears the tunicle? We don’t have subdeacons!]. I must say I am perfectly happy, as a priest, to sit in a congregation for the Eucharist and understand myself as fully participating in doing so.

      I’m not sure if I want to hand over being the “people’s representative” to the deacon. And I’m not as convinced as you that Ignatius’ understanding of the diaconate comes from the sort of well-developed liturgical practice we see with John Chrysostom.

      I agree with your point about the issue with books. When the NZ Prayer Book came out, and still from time to time, I would say, “Every church should have one. Every church should have one.” We seem to be stuck with books, bits of paper, or overhead projector screens. In the community I lead, yes we do use books for some parts and for hymns – but the rest is kept simple and known by heart so that responses are to each other, not to a book.

      Thanks for pointing to Collins. So much of liturgical tradition is tradition looking for a reason 🙂

      Blessings.

      • Tunicles, of course, are not reserved to subdeacons (which, more’s the pity, we do indeed lack). As the great Percy Dearmer reminds us, they are legitimately worn by crucifers and by the Parish Clerk (whose historic prerogative was also the read the Epistle). Has everyone here read Anthony De Mello’s parable, “The Guru’s Cat”? 🙂

        I have no objection to your sitting in the pews in street dress, Bosco! But I imagine that in primitive Eucharists the bishop would not be without his presbyters in the sanctuary (especially since it wasn’t entirely clear which was which…). Peter Elliott makes a good point in his Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite when he wisely advises that concelebrating priests should not be deployed as if they were a committee of presiders (each taking a verbal role), but should for the most part be seen as presbyteral members of the assembly.

        Ignatius’s liturgical context will indeed have been much simpler: one in which the diaconal orarion was still a napkin (manutergium) with a practical use in administering the Eucharist. To my mind, though, that in itself will have suggested how the deacons are a kind of “intermediary” between the bishop and the people: not as “the people’s representative”, but rather representing the bishop to the people and the people to the bishop, i.e. enforcing/facilitating the unity and mutual dependency of presider and people.

        I wonder, was it already the case in Ignatius’s time that 1 Tim. 3:9, about the deacons “holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience”, was interpreted as a reference to the deacons’ administration of the chalice at the Eucharist? That’s, for me, the most plausible explanation of the Mysterium fidei interpolation in the consecration of the chalice in the Roman Canon of the Mass (which would make it very ancient indeed) — though the oldest explicit exegetical connection of 1 Tim. 3:9 to the Mysterium fidei that I’ve come across is Florus of Lyons in the ninth century.

        • Thanks, Jesse. The Guru’s Cat is a story I regularly tell. And just to name drop: I was part of a retreat led by Tony de Mello 🙂 In my book Celebrating Eucharist I wrote, “It is preferable to conceive of concelebrating presbyters as being more a part of the assembly rather than giving the impression that they are presiding as a committee.” I wonder if Peter Elliott got it from me 😉 Blessings.

          • Hmmm… did I really read that in Elliott? I can’t locate the passage today (and his description of the mechanics of concelebration is decidedly committee-like). Maybe I got it straight from you, Bosco, and just filed it mentally in the “sensible liturgist” category, where you and Elliott are both heavily represented.

  6. This seems very confusing. I have been trying to find official direction around this and can not seem too. Who does what seems to be different in every church and sometimes without any rhyme or reason. It makes it hard to explain why you feel called to Priesthood verus being a Deacon or lay ministry. Still feel called …… but this does seem confusing.

    • Thanks for your comment, Gendi. I certainly can understand your confusion. You don’t say which country or which denomination you are writing in. My first suggestion is that you begin exploring your sense of calling with a leader that you trust within your church. Even if everything was neat and tidy, discerning one’s call from God is not a simple process. Blessings.

  7. I am in Auckland – Anglican. I am in discussions with +Ross. I am looking at ‘worship’ as a project to assist +Ross with his decision about me during some extended discernment. So I have been thinking about who does what and how all can participate fully. Thinking about furniture layout and loads of stuff. Really enjoying it, but it is not easy to figure out. Enjoy your blogs, your website and currently some books by Richard Giles.

    • That sounds good, Gendi. Ross is a friend of mine and so I trust the process you are part of. The things you are thinking about are the very things that much of this site and my book Celebrating Eucharist focuses on. If it was all straight forward and beyond debate, I guess this site wouldn’t be here. As it is, this site is the most-visited Christian site in NZ. I am sure that I don’t need to tell you, whatever vocation you have – they are all of equal status and importance. God bless your discernment process.

  8. Thanks Bosco. Your celebrating eucharist book online was one of the first places I checked out (and still refer too) when I was first asked to ‘read the liturgy’ at church for the first time. I am enjoying the discernment process and learning a lot and growing a lot through it. Whatever happens, it is all good.
    I actually love that everything is not ‘hard and fast rules’ – it gives room for listening, discussion and thinking, contemplation and thinking, and discussion again etc.
    Blessings to you.

  9. Hi Bosco,

    I am involved with the same parish where I was initially part of the Lay Ministers team as well. My sensing is that people felt threatened in their roles. Why was I taking over? LLM always set the table, always dismissed the people etc etc. A change in vicar did not help this process either. There was and I assume – still is- an issue with gate keepers at the same time. It is an Anglican parish, but really do we need all of this pomp??

    In short, I welcome the debate on the role of deacons, and at the same time I also think there may be room for some education to both priests and congregation.

    I follow the debate with interest. As I do with most of your articles. Thank you and please keep going.

    Vocational Deacon

    • Firstly, for readers here – the commenting policy of this site asks that people use their ordinary name – there is no reason, normally, to be someone different online than in “first life”; and the resulting culture of the community here is certainly very positive. In this particular case (I have made particular exceptions) I know who “Vocational Deacon” is and I understand the appropriateness of some anonymity, and I encouraged this person to make a comment in this manner as I think this person has important actual experience and insights.

      In reflecting on your points, I might start with the concept of the “Lay Ministers team”. What is this? Theologically. How does one become a member of this team? In Christian, liturgical history I would suspect that such a “team” is a relatively new thing. That is not to denigrate its creation – it may very well be the answer to certain needs. But the diaconate is an order, distinct from laity, distinct from priests that has its existence through all of Christian history.

      LLM I am guessing means “Licensed Lay Minister”? This, I guess, is a reworking of Lay Reader – that I already mentioned in the post. “Always set the table” – this neither requires ordination nor licensing… It is historically appropriate to be overseen by the deacon, if the community is blessed to have one.

      “Gate keepers” are always an issue. And liturgical ideals always need to take into account the community’s reals 🙂 As for there being room for ongoing Christian education – that’s the motivation that keeps this site going 🙂

      In an ideal world – how would you like to function in a community as a deacon; what would you see as appropriate?

      Blessings

      • Thanks for your reply Bosco,

        My apology, yes LLM stands for Licensed Lay Minister. LLM-team, is just a name to refer to these people. How do people become part of that ‘team’? As far as I am aware there is two way communication. Either the person expresses the feeling to become more involved, or honouring a sense of calling, or a person can be invited to think about this role. To my knowledge, there are different licenses. Ranging from “liturgist, pastoral care, preaching, and anointing with oil” -or a combination of licenses. I think these are the most common, however the list could be longer…

        Gate keepers, for lack of better word, tend to hang on to the past. This is not always a bad idea, however if we have to look at how to be church in the future. How to be relevant for our community/congregation/ or even a dwindling congregation, there might be a need to move away from certain ‘habits’. Admittedly being churh in the future may also bring changes for the clergy!

        The last part of your question, how would i like to be deacon in that or a community? I need a bit more time to verbalise that, will come back to that later.
        Hope this is helpful?

        Vocational Deacon

        • Thanks, Vocational Deacon. The splitting of the “traditional” Lay Reader’s licence into different licences with different roles and skills was probably a good idea. Licensing, with training and accountability is also good. The licensing of everything that is perceived of as “lay ministry” is IMO wrong and a tendency to be avoided. Baptism is what sets us apart for lay ministry – not licensing. So if a lay person is doing a leadership role in the Eucharist, this does not need licensing. The presider is present to oversee all that is being done. When I was vicar of a multi-centre, rural parish Licensed Lay Ministers were an important part of that parish’s life. They led Morning Prayer and preached in one of the many churches of the parish – they had the training, my confidence, and with their licence, that of the bishop, to lead and preach.

          A liturgist is someone who is an authority on liturgy. Using this word for someone who leads some part of the Eucharist is an unusual misnomer, isn’t it. It would interest me if that is the term that is actually on their licence? Just as the history I outlined in the post of having a lay person “lead the first half” could be a good doctorate, the development of the concept and term “liturgist” in our church would be a good doctorate. Please credit me, anyone, if you go on to do this. My suspicion is that in NZ SSC Societas Sanctae Crucis, The Society of the Holy Cross, a community of anglo-catholic priests (sorry I don’t like using such “boxes” but I’m writing in a rush – please understand the short hand) was instrumental if not the origin of the “liturgist” tradition. I suspect that it was created to replace the role of the deacon at High Mass now translated into our new context.

          Blessings.

  10. Hi Bosco,

    FYI
    On the License is written that is is a LLM license, with the name of the person and “we authorise you as:–” liturgist/pastor etc.
    Signed/sealed by the Bishop

    In response to your question ‘how would I like to see my role”.I suppose one of the main issues for me is how to translate the ‘full and equal order’. As many people still think that the Priest is superior, has more responsiblilities etc. How to translate the role of the Diakonate to the congregation, and to the Licensed Ministers without squeezing them out.
    I will think a bit more and write something to that extend later.

    Vocational Deacon

    • Fascinating. So “liturgist” is the actual title as recognised by your diocese. That should mean there should be a canonical description of that role within your diocesan statutes and regulations. I would love for you (or someone) to dig out that description and place it here.

      “We authorise you as pastor” appears to me to be possibly even more fraught. I would have understood the parish priest to be authorised by the bishop to be pastor, and that this is surrounded by careful expectations of training, ongoing training, supervision, and ethical standards, etc. Others might share in pastoral duties if the priest’s load is too high – but how does your diocese deal with the other expectations I outline? And what is in place to clarify lines of accountability and responsibility within a community with a multiplicity of pastoral licenses.

      People who think that “the priest is superior” are – to put it bluntly and clearly – wrong. If anything lies at the heart of the gospel it is our equality before God. The essence of the diaconate IMO is sacrificial service in the world. Deacons are not replacing that lay service in the world – they are leading it. The deacon brings that back into the gathering Christian community. So looking forward to your reflections.

      Blessings

  11. In this post you touch on several things that have been very important to me. I won’t even try to respond to many of them in a comment, but have written about them more fully in a couple of blog posts Deacons and diaconate | Khanya and What is a priest?, which, though much of them deals with Anglicans in South Africa, are not entirely unrelated to Anglicans in New Zealand.

    The point I wanted to pick up in a blog comment is the one about offices and the first part of the Eucharist, and lay people leading them.

    In South Africa an interim Anglican service book was introduced in 1969, which lasted until 1975. It had two offices, Office I and Office II, and the Anaphora of the Eucharist. Office I always preceded the Eucharist, as the Liturgy of the Word, but could be done separately by lay people if there was no priest (or even if there was a priest, if the Eucharist was not being celebrated on that day). Office II was always said on its own. If Office I was in the morning, then Office II was in the evening, and vice versa. There was a two-year cycle of readings and Sunday themes distributed between Office I and Office II.

    The rationale behind this was that in Southern Africa there are many rural congregations that a priest visits once a month or less frequently, and having the first part of the Eucharist would make their regular Sunday worship more similar to that of the rest of the church.

    The Liturgical Committee received comments that were mostly unfavourable, and in 1975 introduced “Liturgy 1975” which had Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer and the Eucharist separately. This was because many people who commented on the interim service book thought that the Offices ought to have a connection with the time of day.

    Now I am Orthodox, and we have the same problem with rural congregations with no priests, but a slightly different solution. Orthodox Mattins and Vespers generally require a priest and deacon (though in many instances the priest has to do the deacon’s part as well as his own. The deacon has much more to do than the priest). But there is a form of priestless Mattins and Vespers used in monasteries, especially women’s monasteries. The difficulty, however, is that fitting together the fixed and movable parts of the service is rather complicated, and usually beyond the resources of small rural congregations.

    So if there is no priest, we have a service similar to what you describe in your article, as the first part of the Eucharist, or the old South African Anglican Office I.

    It is not, however, the first part of the Eucharist, but the whole thing with priest’s and deacon’s parts omitted. It is called Typica, or Obednitsa, or just “the Reader’s Service”. If you like I’ll e-mail you a copy.

    The Obednitsa is usually preceded by the reading of the Third and Sixth Hours. These three services, run together, normally take about an hour, with a short sermon. And, most important, they are far less complicated for lay people to lead than Mattins and Vespers.

    One advantage of the Obednitsa is that it is half the Liturgy, so when people do get to a parish that has the full liturgy, they already know how to sing much of it.

    I was once at a congregation that spoke Northern Sotho (a language I can’t speak) and the regular reader was away, so there was no one to lead the service. A 12-year-old girl chimed in and led it flawlessly, though she had never done so before (she had, however, watched her older cousins do it many times). So a little child shall lead them.

    When I am present at such a service, as a deacon I read the gospel and usually preach, and sometimes say some of the other prayers, but it can be led entirely by lay people.

  12. As many people still think that the Priest is superior, has more responsiblilities etc.

    in so many parishes deacons are but partially ordained priests.

    We do it to ourselves. We require priests to be ordained deacons first, as a stepping stone to priest. Priests vest in services to serve in the role of the deacon when a real deacon is not present because they were once ordained as a deacon. In many Anglican provinces priests are required to hold graduate degrees but deacons are not. In the minds of the laity, yes, priests are superior to deacons, and also in the minds of many priests I fear as well.

    An aside, how many archdeacons do you know who are deacons?

    • In my diocese, Brother David, one of the Archdeacons is a deacon [Some/many, of course, say that all the archdeacons are deacons – as all priests continue to be deacons. I, as you know, am not so convinced that is the case] Blessings.

  13. In response to both Brother David and Bosco,

    I have never encountered a priest dressed/vested as a deacon, to fulfil the deacon’s role. Does that happen often?

    Would it be clearer if we have one ordination, either to Vocational Diakonate or to Priest?
    Then the next question, can a deacon become a bishop or would that be the rare occasion where the deacon is priested more or less at the same time as being installed bishop? Or are only priest called to be bishops…? Just a thought…

    Vocational Deacon.

  14. Or are only priest called to be bishops…?

    We have examples from church history of a bishop being called from the ranks of the laity. I think that the people should be able to elect whomever they feel lead to elect and that the individual then should be directly consecrated bishop, regardless and lay or previously ordained status.

    I believe that the offices of deacon and priest derive their authority from the office of bishop, they are both an extension of the bishops office in their respective fields of labor. To me, the idea that a priest must first be ordained a deacon or that a bishop must first be ordained a priest is thinking in the wrong direction.

    BTW Bosco, so you are saying that the Diocese of Christchurch has one of the few genuine archdeacons in the Anglican world and the usual coterie of archpriests. Is this of +Victoria’s doing, or did she inherit the situation?

    • Our diocese has quite a number of “permanent” deacons – historically because so many parishes became “Total Ministry” parishes, or “Locally Shared Ministry” parishes that did not stipend a vicar. Such parishes generally had a number of priests and some deacons ordained in their community. Some of these “permanent” deacons went on to be ordained priest – so there is tendency around to call “permanent” deacons deacon, and to call those ordained deacon solely as a step to priesthood transitional deacon. All this, including having a deacon as archdeacon, has been around for quite a number of years.

Leave a reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.




About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

You are visitor number shopify analytics tool since the launch of this site on Maundy Thursday, 13 April 2006