Why a Diaconate?
Jesus came among us not to be served, but to serve
- The church strives to be the Body of Christ in the world
- A diaconate can help to remind, inspire, organize and lead the church to renew its commitment to servant ministry.
"The diaconate" is a group of rostered synodical deacons. They visit the sick; teach Bible study, confirmation and Sunday School; manage food pantries; and support the many ministries of their congregations.
How does someone become a rostered synodical deacon? The first step is to complete an approved educational program. The diakonia program has been accepted as this first step. (Important note: graduating from diakonia does not automatically make someone a synodical deacon.) Candidates apply to the diaconate and serve an internship of approximately 18 months under the direction of their pastoral supervisor and the Diaconate Council. At the end of this process, approved candidates are "set apart" as synodical deacons in a special liturgy.
Synodical deacons are called by their congregations for a specific ministry and typically work unpaid. When assisting at worship, synodical deacons wear special stoles diagonally across their bodies. Synodical deacons have voice but not vote at Synod Assembly, report to the bishop annually, and gather regularly to offer support to one another. In all cases, deacons follow in the footsteps of the servant ministry of the dying and rising Christ.
New Application Process
For many years the application process to become a Synod Deacon would begin in October with the internship beginning in January. This did not allow much time for discernment, and burdened a candidate with many deadlines throughout their internship.
In an effort to improve the experience for a candidate, the Synod Diaconate Council has changed the timeline of the application process. Applications will now be accepted through June 30th instead of waiting until October. This will allow a candidate to do many of the required steps prior to being accepted into the program and the beginning of their internship (for example: writing a theological essay and vision of ministry statement; having a psychological evaluation completed; developing a learning agreement with their pastor; and, securing an endorsement from their Congregation Council).
We feel changing this application timeline accomplishes some goals for us. First, doing these required steps prior to the beginning of the internship gives a candidate more tools and more time for discernment to discover if this is truly where God is calling them. Second, this gives the Synod Diaconate Council sufficient time and information to determine whether a candidate is suitable for the program. Finally, with all these steps finished before the internship starts, a candidate can focus more on ministry during their internship rather than worry about meeting deadlines.
While we are adding time to the process, it is all on the front end. Assuming a candidate is accepted into the program, their internship will still begin in January (the same time as if the applications were accepted in October) and does not change when a candidate who completes the program can be set apart.
If becoming a Synod Deacon is something you are considering, we encourage you to read the Diaconate Guidelines. You can also find the application here.
For more information, contact Synod Deacon John Malone and Nancy Casalino-Malone, co-chairs of the Synod Diaconate Council, at [email protected].