The Deacon in Today's World

Beginning in the 1960's, the diaconate within the Episcopal Church underwent remarkable rebirth, and the phenomenal resurgence continued throughout the 1970's and 1980's. By the 1990's, the number of deacons nearly doubled. Functioning in almost every imaginable setting within the Episcopal Church, one can categorize deacons in three ways:

  • As parish deacons, who lead, model, and encourage the diaconal ministry of all the baptized. One can find graduates of the School For Deacons at the heart of the Grace Cathedral congregation, in the smallest of the four parishes in Berkeley, and everywhere in between. The Bishop of California dreams of the day when the church has at least two deacons in every congregation.
  • As institutional deacons, who work as chaplains in prisons, for law enforcement teams and firefighters, in hospitals, hospices, and in schools. School For Deacons graduates serve as chaplains at San Francisco General Hospital, the Monterey County jail, and with the Oakland and the San Rafael police departments.
  • As diocesan deacons, who work with and for bishops in a variety of staff and leadership roles. In the Diocese of California, Deacon Dorothy Jones is the Archdeacon for Deacons and another deacon serves as Coordinator for Social Ministries.

In all that they do, deacons center on fulfilling the role as an image of Christ by being called and sent to serve in the world to mobilize the baptized for service. Such was Jesus' ministry and something that Ignatius of Antioch recognized 1800 hundred years ago.

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