Frequently Asked Questions About Deacons:
“Call” is God’s invitation to use God-given gifts and talents to minister in the church and in the world. A deacon is called to serve all people, particularly the poor, the sick, and the oppressed, and to equip and lead the laity in ministries of compassion, justice, and service in the world. The deacon’s leadership role exemplifies Christian discipleship, creates opportunities for others to enter into discipleship, and connects the church’s worship with its service in the world. Help and specific information for youth is available at www.ExploreCalling.org.
The first step is consulting with a pastor or deacon and studying appropriate materials to further discern the call. That is followed by further consultation with the congregation’s parish staff/parish relations committee and district superintendent, the help of a mentor, and certification by the district committee on ordained ministry. The candidate must then be recommended to and approved by the conference Board of Ordained Ministry. After educational requirements are complete and approved by the Board of Ordained Ministry, a candidate is commissioned and serves a three-year probationary period, which is considered a trial period leading to full membership in the annual conference.
A deacon may choose from four educational routes: bachelor’s or equivalent degree and a Master of Divinity or equivalent degree; bachelor’s degree and master’s from an approved school of theology or seminary; bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in area of specialization and basic graduate theological studies; or bachelor’s degree, professional certification, and basic graduate theological studies (candidates older than 35).
Like the elder, the deacon is appointed to a post by a bishop. However, unlike an elder, a deacon is non-itinerant. His or her appointment may be initiated by the deacon, an agency seeking his or her service, the bishop, or the district superintendent. The Division of Ordained Ministry offers a Web page on which United Methodist churches, related church agencies, and United Methodist colleges and universities may post available ministry positions.
A deacon is appointed by the bishop to ministry in a local congregation (where about 80 percent serve) or in a church-related, faith-based, or secular setting. Since the Order of Deacons was created in 1996, ordained deacons have carried the church outside its traditional walls to minister to the homeless, work with labor unions, in health care, and more. Deacons have founded non-traditional ministries, too. Other service possibilities include musical, editorial and writing, educational, age-group, artistic, mission-based and other posts.