My most profound experiences of God have been found in two places: in the natural world around me and in the people with whom I have shared experiences of mission or the work of the Church. This might be a brief encounter on my drive to work, saying hello and sharing food or water with a woman who stands on the corner of Canal and Foxhall Road. Or it may be the weeks of any given summer doing short-term mission with young people in cities and rural places near and far. Or in a meeting with people who are passionate about the plight of refugees as they listen and share ministry opportunities with each other. This is the work of the Church and where Jesus comes alive for me.
I say the work of the Church because our Baptismal Covenant calls each of us to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as yourself;” and “to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” For all Episcopalians, this is our servant ministry. How each of us engages the work or ministry depends upon our experiences and our passions. What might excite and move you to one place of ministry will not engage another. Where you might be willing to spend your time, talent and treasure might be a place that another person may never even visit. Yet, each of us is called to find our work for God.
The Diocese of Washington has been engaged in developing a program to raise up and train deacons for the last four years. These deacons are not transitional; meaning that they will not be ordained as priests to lead and guide various faith communities. These are life-long deacons who are passionate about the hopes, needs and concerns of the world and will do whatever it takes to assist the Church in responding, as a servant community. Deacons do this by example, by taking others along with them, and by assisting disciples in living out their faith in the world, so that they too might see Jesus.
Since the first ordinations of three deacons in the fall of 2012, we have tripled our numbers. This fall, God willing and the people consenting, we hope to double that number to 22; and hopefully increase that by 9 more in 2020. On Saturday, October 27, we will again hold a Diaconal Workshop Day – a day to explore the ministry of deacons, learn about the process for ordination, and hear about the formation program used to train and equip deacons for ministry.
Does this enliven or stir your heart? What to know more about deacons and their ministry? Visit the deacon’s page on the website and watch for further information and a registration process for the Diaconal Workshop Day.
By The Venerable L. Sue von Rautenkranz, Archdeacon