by Rev. Doris Kung
When I was first considering my call to become an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church, my initial reaction was one of being highly uncomfortable. I only knew of one type of ordination, and that was the ordination to become an Elder. I sought out almost every United Methodist Elder that was within my reach, and everything I was told about being an Elder just did not sit well with me. Simply put, the roles and work of an Elder did not match what I felt God had called me to do. This made me nervous: was there something wrong with me? Was it just that I was not correctly interpreting that restless calling inside of me? How could I make myself fit into this paradigm of Elder in order to fulfill the ordination role that I was sure God had called me to become?
What does it mean to be a United Methodist Deacon? Find out more in the video below that features Rev. David W. Brown, an ordained Deacon of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.
Finally, after more than two years of uncomfortable restlessness, my candidacy mentor showed me the section in the Book of Discipline about the Ministry of the Ordained Deacon. I honestly felt the heavens open up and the angels begin to sing as a shot of divine light fell upon the page. Servant Leadership! Ministry of justice with the poor! Connecting congregations with the community and interpreting their hurts and needs to the congregations! Leading God’s people into responses to these hurts and needs by helping them discover their ministry opportunities! This was me, this was my calling, I finally felt whole again in my purpose.
I was more than two years into my candidacy process before I discovered the Order of Deacon. My late discovery of the true fit of my calling is a result of the fact that the Order of Deacon is still widely unknown to most of us in the United Methodist Church. Who are Deacons? What do they do? Why is their ministry important to the work of the Church? These are all important questions, but they cannot be asked if we are not aware that the ministry of the ordained Deacon even exists.
At the 2009 Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference, we established an Annual Deacon Sunday to offer clergy, congregations, and potential candidates for ministry some insight, information and inspiration into who the Deacon is and what they do. On the First Sunday in June, all churches in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference are asked to highlight the role and work of the Deacon in some way in their worship service. This can be done by inviting a Deacon to come and preach or give a presentation on their ministry, or by making use of the worship service resources that we will have available to you at the District Conferences in April or at the Order of Deacon table at Annual Conference.
If you would like to invite a Deacon to your church, please contact me and I can put you in touch with a Deacon. My advice to you: Deacons are passionate about their work, always engage their audience but are typically available on Deacon Sunday on a first come, first served basis. And, since we currently have 15 commissioned and ordained Deacons in the Eastern PA conference, don’t wait to connect. I promise the time will be enlightening and inspiring.
Rev. Doris Dalton is an ordained deacon and serves Cookman United Methodist Church in Philadelphia. She is also the chair of the Deacon-Pastor Work Team of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on ordained ministry: www.gbhem.org.