Today, the church is more wholeheartedly embracing the diaconate as a full and equal order of ministry. The greatest challenge in the current renewal of the diaconate is the limited ability of the people to discern and call out diaconal gifts in each other or themselves, for scant literature is available. Commissions on Ministry operate with widely divergent views of the signs of diaconal ministry. People's experience with functioning, ordained deacons is still sufficiently rare that role models are few and far between.
Prepared for a session at Leadership Day in the Diocese of California, this "kit" was also offered to a gathering of deacons and prospective aspirants in the Diocese of El Camino Real. The kit has three parts, which can be downloaded below:
This material is useful reading for congregational vocations committees and diocesan Commissions on Ministry. Individuals may also find this a helpful guide for personal reflection on their own sense of calling. A pervasive question is, "how do we see this quality expressed in the person, life, or work of an individual?" The ways of expressing can be quite varied but will resonate with the core idea. The questions in part three are also useful for conversations with individuals engaged in more formal discernment of a call.
The Diaconal Discernment Kit is not exhaustive and is hardly innovative; rather, it serves, in the words of the School for Deacon's Mission Statement, to help "lift up diaconal ministry within the church." Each part of the kit is suitable for discussion in small groups; however, key points have been produced as three individual handouts to support a large group presentation. For copies of these handouts, contact the School for Deacons.
All comments, suggestions, or stories of experience using any or all of this material are welcome. E-mail Roderick Dugliss, Ph.D., Dean or The Rev. Mary Louise Hintz, Director of Recruitment and Admissions.