Order of Deacons

The Ministry of the Deacon

Those who respond to God’s call to lead in service and to equip others for this ministry through teaching, proclamation, and worship and who assist elders in the administration of the sacraments are ordained deacon. –¶303.2, 2004 Book of Discipline 

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Ordained to Word and Service

Deacons are persons called by God, authorized by the church, and ordained by a bishop to a lifetime ministry of Word and Service to both the community and the congregation in a ministry that connects the two. Deacons exemplify Christian discipleship, create opportunities for others to enter into discipleship, and connect the needs and hurts of the people with the church.

In the world, the deacon seeks to express a ministry of compassion and justice and assists lay persons as they claim their own ministry.

In the congregation, the ministry of the deacon is to teach and to form disciples, and to lead worship together with other ordained and lay persons, connecting the needs and hurts of the people with the church. (¶329)

Deacons Give Leadership

Deacons are called to a lifetime of servant leadership. In the church’s life they give leadership:

  • in the teaching and proclamation of the Word
  • in worship and in assisting the elders in the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper
  • in forming and nurturing disciples
  • in conducting marriages and burying the dead
  • in the congregation’s mission to the world and
  • in leading the congregation in interpreting the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world

Deacons are accountable to the annual conference and the bishop for the fulfillment of their call to servant leadership. (¶328)

Called and Set Apart for a Ministry of Service

From the earliest days of the church, deacons were called and set apart for the ministry of love, justice, and service; of connecting the church with the most needy, neglected, and marginalized among the children of God. This ministry grows out of the Wesleyan passion for social holiness and ministry among the poor.

The ministry of the deacon is a faithful response of the mission of the Church meeting the emerging needs of the future.

Conference Membership

The deacon in full connection is a clergy member of the annual conference and shall have the rights of voice and vote in the clergy session and the annual conference where membership is held. They shall be eligible to serve as clergy on boards, commissions, or committees of the annual conference and hold office on the same; and shall be eligible for election as a clergy delegate to the General, central, or jurisdictional conference. (¶329.2)


Deacons may be appointed to serve as their primary field of service: (1) through agencies and settings beyond the local church that extend the witness and service of Christ’s love and justice in the world by equipping all Christians to fulfill their own calls to Christian service; or (2) through United Methodist church-related agencies, schools, colleges, theological schools, ecumenical agencies; or (3) within a local congregation, charge, or cooperative parish or within the connectional structures of the UMC. The appointment of deacons in full connection shall be made by the bishop. It may be initiated by (1) the individual deacon in full connection, (2) the agency seeking their service, (3) the bishop, or (4) the district superintendent. They will be nonitinerant. When deacons in full connection serve in an agency or setting beyond the local church, the bishop, after consultation with the deacon and the pastor in charge, shall appoint the deacon to a local congregation where they will take missional responsibility for leading other Christians into ministries of service. (¶331)

More Information on the Ministy of Deacons

Information Provided by General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, United Methodist Church