Deacon: Wikis

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Saint Stephen, one of the first seven deacons in the Christian Church, holding a Gospel Book, painting by Giacomo Cavedone 1601

Deacon is a role in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. In many traditions, the diaconate, the term for a deacon's office, is a clerical office; in others, it is for laity.

The word deacon (and deaconess) is derived from the Greek word diakonos (διάκονος),[1] which is a standard ancient Greek word meaning "servant", "waiting-man," "minister" or "messenger."[2] One commonly promulgated speculation as to its etymology is that it literally means 'through the dust', referring to the dust raised by the busy servant or messenger.[3]

It is generally believed that the office of deacon originated in the selection of seven men, among them Stephen, to assist with the charitable work of the early church as recorded in Acts 6.[4][5] Deaconesses are mentioned by Pliny the Younger in a letter to Trajan dated c. 112. The exact relationship between Deacons and Deaconesses varies. In some traditions a deaconess is simply a female deacon; in others, deaconesses constitute a separate order; in others, the title "deaconess" is given to the wife of a deacon.

A biblical description of the qualities required of a deacon, and of his household, can be found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.

Among the more prominent deacons in history are Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr (the "protomartyr"); Philip the Evangelist, whose baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch is recounted in Acts 8:26-40; Saint Lawrence, an early Roman martyr; Saint Vincent of Saragossa, protomartyr of Spain; Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the mendicant Franciscans; Saint Ephrem the Syrian and Saint Romanos the Melodist, a prominent early hymnographer. Prominent historical figures who played major roles as deacons and went on to higher office include Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, Thomas Becket and Reginald Pole.

The title is also used for the president, chairman or head of a trades guild in Scotland; and likewise to two officers of a Masonic Lodge.

Contents

Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Anglicanism

The diaconate is one of the major orders in the Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches. The other major orders are those of bishop and presbyter/priest.

While the permanent diaconate was maintained from earliest Apostolic times to the present in the Eastern churches (Orthodox and Catholic), it gradually disappeared in the Western church (with a few notable exceptions) during the first millennium. The diaconate continued in a vestigial form as a temporary, final step along the course to ordination to the priesthood. In the 20th Century, the permanent diaconate was restored in many Western churches, most notably in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

In Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches, deacons assist priests in their pastoral and administrative duties, but report directly to the bishop. They have a distinctive role in the liturgy, their main tasks being to proclaim the Gospel, preach, assist in the administration of the Eucharist and to serve the poor and outcast.

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Catholicism

Catholic deacon wearing a dalmatic.

In the years just prior to the Second Vatican Council, the only men ordained as deacons were seminarians who were completing the last year or so of graduate theological training, who received the order several months before priestly ordination.

Following the recommendations of the council (in Lumen Gentium 29), in 1967 Pope Paul VI issued the motu proprio Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem, restoring the ancient practice of ordaining to the diaconate men who were not candidates for priestly ordination. These men are known as permanent deacons in contrast to those completing their training, who were then called transitional deacons. There is no sacramental difference between the two, however, as there is only one order of deacons.[6]

The permanent diaconate formation period in the Catholic Church entails a four or five year training period that resembles a collegiate course of study. Diaconal candidates receive instruction in philosophy, theology, study of the Holy Scriptures (the Bible), homiletics, sacramental studies, evangelization, ecclesiology, counseling, and pastoral care and ministry before ordination. Although they are assigned to work in a parish by the diocesan bishop, once assigned, deacons are under the supervision of the parish priest.[7] Unlike most clerics, permanent deacons that also have a secular profession have no right to receive a salary for their ministry,[8] but many dioceses opt to remunerate them anyway. Details about the permanent diaconate in the USA are outlined in a 2005 document of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States."

The ministry of the deacon in the Catholic Church is described as one of service in three areas: the Word, the Liturgy and Charity. The deacon's ministry of the Word includes proclaiming the Gospel during the Mass, preaching and teaching. His liturgical ministry includes various parts of the Mass proper to the deacon, including being an ordinary minister of Holy Communion and the proper minister of the chalice when Holy Communion is administered under both kinds. The ministry of charity involves service to the poor and marginalized and working with parishioners to help them become more involved in such ministry. As clerics, they are required to recite the Liturgy of the Hours. Deacons, like priests and bishops, are ordinary ministers of the sacrament of Baptism and can serve as the church's witness at the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which the bride and groom administer to each other (though if the exchange of vows takes place in a wedding Mass, or Nuptial Mass, the Mass is celebrated by the priest and the deacon acts as another witness). Deacons may preside at funeral rites not involving a Mass (e.g., the final commendation at the gravesite or the reception of the body at a service in the funeral home), and may assist the priest at the Requiem Mass. They can preside over various services such as Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and they may give certain blessings. They cannot hear confession and give absolution, anoint the sick, or celebrate Mass.

At Mass, the deacon is the ordinary minister of the proclamation of the Gospel (in fact, a priest, bishop, or even the Pope should not proclaim the Gospel if a deacon is present)[9] and of Holy Communion (primarily, of the Precious Blood). Deacons have the right to preach the homily by right of their ordination, unless the priest presider retains that ministry to himself at any particular Mass.

The vestments most particularly associated with the Western Rite Catholic deacon are the alb, stole and dalmatic. Deacons, like priests and bishops, must wear their albs and stoles; deacons place the stole over their left shoulder and it hangs across to their right side, while priests and bishops wear it around their necks. The dalmatic, a vestment especially associated with the deacon, is worn during the celebration of the Mass and other liturgical functions; its use is more liberally applied than the corresponding vestment of the priest, the chasuble.

Permanent deacons often serve in parish or other ministry as their time permits, since they typically have other full time employment. They may also act as parish administrators. With the passage of time, more and more deacons are serving in full-time ministries in parishes, hospitals, prisons, and in diocesan positions. Deacons often work directly in ministry to the marginalized inside and outside the church: the poor, the sick, the hungry, the imprisoned.

The permanent diaconate can be conferred on single men 25 or older, and on married men 35 or older, but an older age can be required by the episcopal conference.[10] If a married deacon is widowed, he must maintain the celibate state. Under some very rare circumstances, however, permanent deacons who have been widowed can receive permission to remarry This is most commonly done when the deacon is left as a single father. [11](See also clerical celibacy.) The wife of a permanent deacon may be sometimes considered a partner in his ordained ministry. In many dioceses, the wife of the diaconal candidate undertakes the same education and training her husband does.

A permanent deacon is not styled "Father" as a priest would be, but as "Deacon," abbreviated variously as "Dn." or "Dcn." This preferred method of address is stated in the 2005 document of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States. The proper address in written correspondence for all Deacons of the Latin (Roman Rite) Catholic Church is "Rev. Mr." (or "Rev. Dr." in the case of holders of doctoral degrees). "Rev. Mr.," however, is more often used to indicate a transient deacon (i.e., preparing for ordination to the priesthood) or one who belongs to a religious order, while "Deacon" is used as the honorific for permanent deacons (e.g. Deacon John Smith, or Deacon Smith). The decision as to whether deacons wear the Roman collar as street attire is left to the discretion of each bishop for his own diocese. Where clerical garb is approved by the bishop, the deacon can choose to wear or not wear the "collar." Where it is not permitted, the deacon must wear secular clothing.

Eastern Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism

Greek Orthodox deacon in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, wearing an orarion over his sticharion. On his head he wears the clerical kamilavka.

In addition to reading the Gospel and assisting in the administration of Holy Communion, the deacon censes the icons and people, calls the people to prayer, leads the litanies, and has a role in the dialogue of the Anaphora. In keeping with Eastern tradition he is not permitted to perform any Sacred Mysteries (sacraments) on his own, except for Baptism in extremis (in danger of death), conditions under which anyone, including the laity, may baptize. When assisting at a normal baptism, it is often the deacon who goes down into the water with the one being baptized (Acts 8:38). In contrast to the Roman Catholic Church, deacons in the Eastern Churches may not preside at the celebration of marriages, as in Eastern theology the sacrament is conferred by the nuptial blessing of a priest.

Diaconal vestments are the sticharion (dalmatic), the orarion (deacon's stole), and the epimanikia (cuffs). The last are worn under his sticharion, not over it as does a priest or bishop. The deacon usually wears a simple orarion which is only draped over the left shoulder but, if elevated to the rank or archdeacon, he wears the "doubled-orarion", meaning it is passed over the left shoulder, under the right arm, and then crossed over the left shoulder (see photograph, right). In modern Greek practice, a deacon wears this doubled orarion from the time of his ordination. Also, in the Greek practice, he wears the clerical kamilavka (cylindrical head covering) with a rim at the top. In Slavic practice, a hierodeacon (monastic deacon) wears the simple black kamilavka of a monk (without the rim), but he removes the monastic veil (see klobuk) when he is vested; a married deacon would not wear a kamilavka unless it is given to him by the bishop as an ecclesiastical award; the honorary kamilavka is purple in colour, and may be awarded to either married or monastic clergy.

As far as street clothing is concerned, immediately following his ordination the deacon receives a blessing to wear the Exorasson (Arabic: Jib'be, Slavonic: Riassa), an outer cassock with wide sleeves, in addition to the Anterion (Slavonic: Podraznik), the inner cassock worn by all orders of clergy. In the Slavic practice, married clergy may wear any of a number of colours, but most often grey, while monastic clergy always wear black. In certain jurisdtictions in North America and Western Europe, a Roman collar is often worn, although this is not a traditional or widespread practice.

A protodeacon (Greek: πρωτοδιάκονος: protodiakonos, "first deacon") is a distinction of honor awarded to senior deacons, usually serving on the staff of the diocesan bishop. An archdeacon is similar, but is among the monastic clergy. Protodeacons and archdeacons use a double-length orarion even if it is not the local tradition for all deacons to use it. In the Slavic tradition a deacon may be awarded the doubled-orarion even if he is not a protodeacon or archdeacon.

Painting of a Russian Orthodox deacon leading an ektenia (litany).

According to the practice of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, in keeping with the tradition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Great and Holy Mother Church of Constantinople, the proper way to address a deacon is "Father".[12] Depending on local tradition, deacons are addressed as either "Father", "Father Deacon," "Deacon Father," or, , if addressed by a Bishop, simply as "Deacon".

The tradition of kissing the hands of ordained clergymen extends to the diaconate as well. This practice is rooted in the Holy Eucharist and is in acknowledgement and respect of the Eucharistic role members of the clergy play in preparing, handling and disbursing the divine and lifegiving body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ during the Divine Liturgy, and in building and serving the Body of Christ, His Church.

Anciently, the Eastern Churches ordained deaconesses. This practice fell into desuetude in the second millennium, but has been revived (not without controversy) in some churches. Saint Nectarios of Pentapolis was reputed to have ordained a number of nuns as deaconesses in convents. It should be noted that historically, deaconesses were never considered to hold the same position in the hierarchy as deacons. Deaconesses would assist in anointing and baptising women, and in ministering to the spiritual needs of the women of the community, but would not serve within the Holy Altar. After the church ceased ordaining deaconesses, these duties largely fell to the nuns and to the priests' wives.

(See also clerical celibacy.)

Syriac Orthodox and Syro-Malankara Catholic Churches

In the Syriac Orthodox and Syro Malankara tradition, different ranks among the deacons are specifically assigned with particular duties. The six ranks of deaconate are:

  1. Olmoyo (Faithful)
  2. Maudyono (Confessor of Faith)
  3. Masamrono (Singer)
  4. Korooyo (Reader)
  5. Youfadyakno (Sub-deacon)
  6. Msamsono (Full Deacon)

Only a full deacon or Masamsono can take the censer during the Holy Mass to assist the priest. However in the Malankara Church, because of the lack of deacons, altar assistants who do not have any rank of deaconhood assist the priest.

Anglicanism

An Anglican deacon wearing an alb and a purple stole over his left shoulder.

In Anglican churches, deacons often work directly in ministry to the marginalized inside and outside the church: the poor, the sick, the hungry, the imprisoned. Unlike Orthodox and Catholic deacons who may be married only before ordination, Anglican deacons are permitted to marry freely both before and after ordination, as are Anglican priests. Most deacons are preparing for priesthood, and usually are ordained thereto about a year after diaconal ordination. However, there are some deacons who do not go on to receive priestly ordination. Many provinces of the Anglican Communion ordain both women and men as deacons. Many of those provinces that ordain women to the priesthood previously allowed them to be ordained only to the diaconate. The effect of this was the creation of a large and overwhelmingly female diaconate for a time, as most men proceeded to be ordained priest after a short time as a deacon.

Certificate of Ordination as a Deacon in the Church of England given by Richard Terrick, the Bishop of London, to Gideon Bostwick. February 24, 1770

Anglican deacons may baptize and in some dioceses are granted licences to solemnize matrimony, usually under the instruction of their parish priest and bishop. They commonly officiate at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Deacons are not able to preside at the eucharist (but can lead worship with the distribution of already-consecrated Communion where this is permitted), nor can they absolve sins or pronounce a blessing in the name of the Church [13], (however, these last two are often permitted in an indirect form). It is the prohibition against deacons pronouncing a blessing in the Church's name that leads some in the church to believe that a deacon cannot properly solemnize matrimony. In most cases, deacons minister alongside other clergy.

An Anglican deacon wears an identical choir dress to an Anglican priest: cassock, surplice, tippet and academic hood. However, liturgically, deacons wear a stole over their left shoulder and fastened on the right side of their waist. This is worn both over the surplice and the alb. A deacon might also wear a dalmatic.

Deaconesses

The title "deaconess" appears in documents from the early Church period, particularly in the East. Their duties were different from that of male deacons; deaconesses prepared adult women for baptism and they had a general Apostolate to female Christians and catecumens[14]. Deaconesses existed in the West until about the 6th century and in the East until about the 11th century.

Liturgies for the installation of Deaconesses are identical to those for male Deacons[15]; although some argue it is not clear that the deaconesses of history were sacramentally "ordained" in the same sense used in the present day in Canons 1008 and 1009 of the Code of Canon Law [14]. In any event, history can neither prove nor disprove the current historical-theological question.

Roger Gryson argues that some historical Deaconesses received sacramental ordination,[16]. Aimé Georges Martimort argues that historical deaconesses did not receive a sacramental ordination.[17] Phyllis Zagano presents a contemporary, original, argument for the female Diaconate that includes the historical debate. [18]

Currently, the Catholic Church does not ordain women to the diaconate, although Vatican statements have declined to state that this is not possible, as they have in the case of priestly ordination. The Russian Orthodox Church had a female diaconate into the 20th century. The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece restored a monastic female diaconate in 2004. [19]. The Armenian Church has a long history of deaconesses.

Lutheran churches

Missouri Synod (USA)

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LC-MS) in the United States has special training and certification programs for deacons and deaconesses. Most LC-MS deacons are trained at Concordia University - Chicago or one of their two seminaries (St. Louis, MO or Fort Wayne, IN). Internet based classes are also available through the Mission Training Center (MTC).

Deacons assist pastors in human care ministry and other roles with the goals of caring for those in need and freeing pastors to focus on word and sacrament ministry. Acts chapter 6, verse 2 describes the function of deacons (servants) then and now, "So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, 'It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.'"

Deacons are installed, not ordained, and remain lay persons. The word "ordain" is to be reserved for the pastoral office.[20]

Under most circumstances deacons and deaconesses do not preach or administer the sacraments. Special exceptions may be made for deacons (vicars) who are training to become pastors but must be given by the district president in writing. (A vicar in the LC-MS is a third year seminarian who is doing an internship under a pastor. It should not be confused with the same term in Anglican and other church traditions.)

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Deaconess Community (ELCA/ELCIC)

The Deaconess Community, a community of women serving in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) was formed in 1884. These women, who bear the title of 'Sister', proclaim the gospel through ministries of mercy and servant leadership on behalf of both churches for the sake of the world. Since the 1970s the sisters have been allowed to marry.

Diaconal Ministers/Associates in Ministry (ELCA/ELCIC)

The diaconate was recognized and rostered by the ELCA in 1993, creating a fourth 'roster' of recognized ministers (the other three being ordained, associates in ministry, and deaconess) in the churchwide body. The community is still young and as such is still being formed as to what styles and forms of ministry a diaconal minister pursues, as well as practices and traditions of the same.

As in the Anglican Communion, Lutheran diaconal ministers are allowed to wear a stole draped sideways from one shoulder and tied off at the waist, usually with some material left hanging below. Diaconal ministers (the term "deacon" is used occasionally but not officially) are involved in preaching, assisting in worship, leading worship in lieu of an ordained pastor and other congregational duties; they are, however, primarily called to service outside the church, in fields such as campus ministry, chaplaincy, congregational ministry, counseling, social service agency work, spiritual direction, parish and community nursing and a range of other avenues. A diaconal minister is 'consecrated', rather than 'ordained'. This ceremony is usually presided over by a bishop.

Also of note are the 'associates in ministry (AIM), a rostered position within the ELCA consisting of laypersons commissioned into positions of service within the church, most often as educators, musicians, and worship leaders. While there is a trend towards combining the diaconal and associate ministries, the 'AIM' program continues in its own right, and associates are spread across the entirety of the churchwide body. AIMs are "commissioned" for service.

Porvoo Lutheran churches

The Porvoo Communion is a formally constituted union between the Anglican churches of Ireland and Great Britain and the Lutheran churches of most of the Scandinavian and Baltic states. These Lutheran churches administer holy orders in the same threefold ministry as the Anglican Communion, with deacons ordained to their ministry. As a result the Porvoo agreement allows for a complete freedom of exchange of ministries (of bishops and priests as well as deacons) between the Anglican and Lutheran churches who are signatories.

Other traditions

Deacons are also appointed or elected in other Protestant denominations, though this is less commonly seen as a step towards the clerical ministry. The role of deacon in these denominations varies greatly from denomination to denomination; often, there will be more emphasis on administrative duties than on pastoral or liturgical duties. In some denominations, deacons' duties are only financial management and practical aid and relief. Elders handle pastoral and other administrative duties.

Amish

The Amish have deacons, but they are elected by a council and receive no formal training.

Baptists

Baptists have traditionally followed the principle of the autonomy of the local church congregation, giving each church the ability to discern for themselves the interpretation of scripture. Thus, the views among Baptist churches as to who becomes a deacon and when, as well as what they do and how they go about doing it, vary greatly. Baptists recognize two ordained positions in the church as Elders (Pastors) and Deacons, as per 1 Timothy, third chapter.

There are Baptist churches where the deacons decide many of the church affairs. There are churches where deacons serve in a family ministry only. There are Baptist churches (especially in the United Kingdom, but also in the U.S. and elsewhere) where women are allowed to be deacons; while many Baptist churches would never consider allowing a woman to serve as a deacon.

One example would be the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, where deacons can be any adult male member of the congregation that is in good standing. Many African American Missionary or National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. affiliated churches have male and female deacons serving as one board and others have two separate boards of deacons and deaconesses. Most often the deacon or deacon candidate is a long-standing member of the church, being middle aged, but younger deacons are often members of a family that has had several generations in the same church. They are elected by quorum vote annually. Their roles are semi-pastoral in that they fill in for the pastor on occasion, or lead a prayer service. Their main roles are to accompany the pastor during Communion to hand out the remembrances of bread and wine (or grape juice) and to set a good example for others to follow. Administrative duties sometimes include oversight of the treasury, Sunday school curriculum, transportation, and various outreach ministries. See Baptist Distinctives for a more accurate treatment of Deacons in churches in other Associations, particularly the UK.

Church of Scotland

There are two distinct offices of Deacon in the Church of Scotland. The best known form of diaconate are trained, paid pastoral workers, often working in parishes with considerable social and economic deprivation. The diaconate was formerly exclusively male; women could not be ordained as Ministers until 1968. The offices of Deacon and Minister are now both open to both women and men; Deacons are now ordained (they were previously "commissioned").

The other office of Deacon can be found in congregations formerly belonging to the pre-1900 Free Church of Scotland, with a "Deacons' Court" having responsibility for financial and administrative oversight of congregations. Only a few congregations still retain this constitutional model, with most having since adopted the Church of Scotland's "Model Constitution" (with a Kirk Session and Congregational Board) or "Unitary Congregation" (with just a Kirk Session). Most of the Free Church congregations united with the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland in 1900 creating the United Free Church of Scotland, which itself united with the Church of Scotland in 1929.

The congregations of the Free Church of Scotland (post 1900) which did not join the UF Church in 1900 continue to have Deacons.

The Uniting Church in Australia In the Uniting Church in Australia, the Diaconate form part of the two offices of clergy. The other is Minister of the Word. Deacons in the Uniting Church are called to minister to those on the fringes of the church and be involved in ministry in the community. A Deacon is a pathfinder. They go where others have not gone before and light the way for the church to respond to where people in the community are hurting, disadvantaged and oppressed. A Deacon is a community builder. Having no congregation, they begin with scattered people and shape them into a community. A Deacon is an evangelist. They share the good news of the gospel with people in the community.

In the Uniting Church both Ministers of the Word and Deacons are called Reverend (Revd).

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Individual congregations of this church denomination also ordain deacons, along with elders. However, in many churches the property-functions of the diaconate and session of elders is commended to an independent board of trustees. John Calvin's legacy of restoring a servant-ministry diaconate lives on in the Presbyterian churches. Deacons are specially charged with ministries of mercy, especially toward the sick and the poor.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

For the role of Deacon in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS/Mormon), see Priesthood (Mormonism) and Deacon (Mormonism).

1. Gather fast offerings. 2. Pass the sacrament. 3. Serve as the bishop’s messenger. 4. Care for the grounds and physical facilities of the church. 5. Assist in service projects or welfare assignments as assigned by the bishop. 6. Watch over the Church and act as standing ministers (see D&C 84:111). 7. Be involved in missionary and reactivation efforts (see D&C 20:58–59). 8. Assist teachers in all their duties as needed (see D&C 20:53, 57). 9. Give talks in Church meetings.

Church of Christ

The role of deacons in this church is also widely varied. Generally they are put in control of various programs of a congregation. They are servants, as the etymology indicates, of the church. They are under the subjection of the elders, as is the rest of the congregation. Their qualifications are found in the New Testament, in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 (Waddey, John; et al. (1981). The title deacon is becoming obsolete, as many churches are adopting other functional terms such as ministry leaders or team leaders. The terms for overseers and deacons both focus on function and responsibility. Deacons were people with technical skills who served in the church.

New Apostolic Church

In the New Apostolic Church, the deacon ministry is a local ministry. A deacon mostly works in his home congregation to support the priests. If a priest is unavailable, a deacon will hold a divine service, without the act of communion (Only Priests and up can consecrate Holy Communion).

Jehovah's Witnesses

Deacons among Jehovah's Witnesses are referred to as ministerial servants. They aid elders in congregational duties. Like the elders, they serve as volunteers.

Cognates

The Greek word diakonos (διάκονος) gave rise to the following terms from the history of Russia, not to be confused with each other: "dyak", "podyachy", "dyachok", in addition to "deacon" and "protodeacon".

Scots usage

In Scots language, the title deacon is used for a head-workman, a master or chairman of a trade guild, or one who is adept, expert and proficient. The term deaconry refers to the office of a deacon or the trade guild under a deacon.

The most famous holder of this title was Deacon Brodie who was a cabinet-maker and president of the Incorporation of Wrights and Masons as well as being a Burgh councillor of Edinburgh, but at night led a double life as a burglar. He is thought to have inspired the story of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ "deacon". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000. http://www.bartleby.com/61/11/D0051100.html. Retrieved 2008-08-17.  
  2. ^ Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert (1889). An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0199102066. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0058%3Aentry%3D%237832. Retrieved 2007-10-18.  
  3. ^ Partridge, Eric (1983). Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English. New York: Greenwich House. ISBN 0-517-414252.  
  4. ^ Thurston, Herbert (1913). "Deacons". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04647c.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-18.  
  5. ^ Hopko, Thomas. "Holy Orders". http://www.oca.org/OCchapter.asp?SID=2&ID=57. Retrieved 2007-10-18.  
  6. ^ Charles M. Wilson, A few additional observations url=http://www.ewtn.com/library/CANONLAW/WOMENDEA.htm
  7. ^ USCCB Diaconate FAQ - Section 5 "Is a Deacon ordained for the Parish or the Diocese?" http://www.usccb.org/deacon/faqs.shtml
  8. ^ Canon 281 § 3.
  9. ^ USCCB - Committee on the Liturgy - Chapter IV
  10. ^ http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/motu_proprio/documents/hf_p-vi_motu-proprio_19670618_sacrum-diaconatus_en.html
  11. ^ (National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States, 2005, pg. 36)
  12. ^ "Etiquette and Protocol". Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. http://www.goarch.org/resources/etiquette. Retrieved 2009-03-21.  
  13. ^ The Christian Faith: Ch 63- Ordination- (2) As a Sacrament
  14. ^ a b Duane L.C.M. Galles, Women Deacons - Are they Possible? url=http://www.ewtn.com/library/CANONLAW/WOMENDEA.htm
  15. ^ Thurston, Herbert (1908). "Deaconesses". The Catholic Encyclopedia. IV. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04651a.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-23.  
  16. ^ The Ministry of Women in the Early Church (Liturgical Press, 1976, ISBN 0-8146-0899-X)
  17. ^ Deaconesses: An Historical Study (Ignatius Press, 1986, ISBN 0-89870-114-7)
  18. ^ Holy Saturday: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church (Crossroad/Herder, 2000, ISBN 0824518322)
  19. ^ url=http://westernorthodoxy.org/pdf/restored.pdf
  20. ^ "The Ministry: Offices, Procedures, and Nomenclature" A Report of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, September 1981, p. 22

External references

Church of Christ

  • Introducing the Church of Christ. Star Bible Publications, Fort Worth, Texas 76182.
  • Evangelicalism & the Stone-Campbell Movement (William R. Baker, ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002) for essays on Church of Christ ecclesiology.
  • Thatcher, Tom; "The Deacon in the Pauline Church" in Christ’s Victorious Church: Essays on Biblical Ecclesiology and Eschatology (Jon A. Weatherly, ed. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001).

Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

Lutheran Church

  • The Deaconess Community
  • The Diaconal Community

Natalie Deacon - High Priestess of Paisley


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

DEACON (Gr. Scarcovos, minister, servant), the name given to a particular minister or officer of the Christian Church. The status and functions of the office have varied in different ages and in different branches of Christendom.

(a) The Ancient Church

The office of deacon is almost as old as Christianity itself, though it is impossible to fix the moment at which it came into existence. Tradition connects its origin with the appointment of "the Seven" recorded in Acts vi. This connexion, however, is questioned by a large and increasing number of modern scholars, on the ground that "the Seven" are not called deacons in the New Testament and do not seem to have been identified with them till the time of Irenaeus (A.D. 180). The first definite reference to the diaconate occurs in St Paul's Epistle to the Philippians (i. 1), where the officers of the Church are described as "bishops and deacons" - though it is not unlikely that earlier allusions are to be found in 1 Cor. xii. 28 and Romans xii. 7. In the pastoral epistles the office seems to have become a permanent institution of the Church, and special qualifications are laid down for those who hold it (1 Tim. iii. 8). By the time of Ignatius (A.D. 110) the "three orders" of the ministry were definitely established, the deacon being the lowest of the three and subordinate to the bishop and the presbyters. The inclusion of deacons in the "three orders" which were regarded as essential to the existence of a true Church sharply distinguished them from the lower ranks of the ministry, and gave them a status and position of importance in the ancient Church.

The functions attaching to the office varied at different times. In the apostolic age the duties of deacons were naturally vague and undefined. They were "helpers" or "servants" of the Church in a general way and served in any capacity that was required of them. With the growth of the episcopate, however, the deacons became the immediate ministers of the bishop. Their duties included the supervision of Church property, the management of Church finances, the visitation of the sick, the distribution of alms and the care of widows and orphans. They were also required to watch over the souls of the flock and report to the bishop the cases of those who had sinned or were in need of spiritual help. "You deacons," says the Apostolical Constitutions (4th century), "ought to keep watch over all who need watching or are in distress, and let the bishop know." With the growth of hospitals and other charitable institutions, however, the functions of deacons became considerably curtailed. The social work of the Church was transferred to others, and little by little the deacons sank in importance until at last they came to be regarded merely as subordinate officers of public worship, a position which they hold in the Roman Church to-day, where their duties are confined to such acts as the following: - censing the officiating priest and the choir, laying the corporal on the altar, handing the paten or cup to the priest, receiving from him the pyx and giving it to the subdeacon, putting the mitre on the archbishop's head (when he is present) and laying his pall upon the altar.

(b) The Church of England

The traditionary position of the diaconate as one of the "three orders" is here maintained. Deacons may conduct any of the ordinary services in the church, but are not permitted to pronounce the absolution or consecrate the elements for the Eucharist. In practice the office has become a stepping-stone to the priesthood, the deacon corresponding to the licentiate in the Presbyterian Church. Candidates for the office must have attained the age of twenty-three and must satisfy the bishop with regard to their intellectual, moral and spiritual fitness. The functions of the office are defined in the Ordinal - "to assist the priest in divine service and specially when he ministereth the Holy Communion, to read Holy Scriptures and Homilies in the church, to instruct the youth in the catechism, to baptize in the absence of the priest, to preach if he be admitted thereto by the bishop, and furthermore to search for the sick, poor and impotent people and intimate their estates and names to the curate." (c) Churches of the Congregational Order. - In these (which of course include Baptists) the diaconate is a body of laymen appointed by the members of the church to act as a management committee and to assist the minister in the work of the church. There is no general rule as to the number of deacons, though the traditionary number of seven is often kept, nor as to the frequency of election, each church making its own arrangements in this respect. The deacons superintend the financial affairs of the church, co-operate with the minister in the various branches of his work, assist in the visitation of the sick, attend to the church property and generally supervise the activities of the church.

See Thomassinus, Vetus ac nova disciplina, pars i. lib. i. C. 51 f. and lib. ii. c. 29 f. (Lugdunum, 1706); J. N. Seidl, Der Diakonat in der katholischen Kirche (Regensburg, 1884); R. Sohm, Kirchenrecht, i. 121-137 (Leipzig, 1892); F. J. A. Hort, The Christian Ecclesia (London, 1897).


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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki


Anglicized form of the Greek word diaconos, meaning a "runner," "messenger," "servant." For a long period a feeling of mutual jealousy had existed between the "Hebrews," or Jews proper, who spoke the sacred language of palestine, and the "Hellenists," or Jews of the Grecian speech, who had adopted the Grecian language, and read the Septuagint version of the Bible instead of the Hebrew. This jealousy early appeared in the Christian community. It was alleged by the Hellenists that their widows were overlooked in the daily distribution of alms. This spirit must be checked. The apostles accordingly advised the disciples to look out for seven men of good report, full of the Holy Ghost, and men of practical wisdom, who should take entire charge of this distribution, leaving them free to devote themselves entirely to the spiritual functions of their office (Acts 6:1-6). This was accordingly done. Seven men were chosen, who appear from their names to have been Hellenists. The name "deacon" is nowhere applied to them in the New Testament; they are simply called "the seven" (21:8). Their office was at first secular, but it afterwards became also spiritual; for among other qualifications they must also be "apt to teach" (1 Tim. 3: 8-12). Both Philip and Stephen, who were of "the seven," preached; they did "the work of evangelists."

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

A Deacon is a role in the Christian church. The job of a deacon is different depending on the church he or she is a part of. A deacon usually helps to run the church and teaches people about Christianity. A deacon can also witness marriages.

In the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches men are not allowed to marry after they have become deacons. Deacons in Protestant churches are allowed to marry.



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