Deacons are one of three ordained positions within Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations, and yet the ways deacons lead are as varied as the worshiping communities they belong to.
As part of the Office of the General Assembly’s Year of Leadership Formation: Investing in Ruling Elders and Deacons, a webinar at 7 p.m. Eastern Time on Sept. 16 will discuss different forms of deacon ministry and the connection between discipleship and deacons. As part of a commitment to provide live interpretation, webinar attendees need to register for the session by Sept. 8.
Click here to access the webinar’s registration link.
The 90-minute session, “Deacon Ministries,” is the third and final Year of Leadership Formation webinar. Recordings of two previous webinars, along with other new resources for church leaders, can be accessed here.
Martha Miller, with Ministry and Education Support in the Office of the General Assembly, said the webinar is part of the national church’s effort to take stock of the many roles that deacons play within congregations, to create resources for deacons and to validate deacon ministry as a distinct calling, as opposed to a steppingstone toward other forms of church leadership.
During the webinar, Jihyun Oh, director of Mid Council Ministries in the Office of the General Assembly, will moderate an eight-person panel discussion and help respond to questions from attendees. Panelists will include deacons, pastors and ruling elders from PC(USA) congregations.
Elona Street-Stewart, Co-Moderator of the 224th General Assembly, will participate in the panel.
“Jihyun and I were speaking to Elona about leadership formation,” Miller said. “Her words helped us realize how deacon ministry differs between congregations, and how deacons serve different roles through the varied cultures of our congregations. … She inspired us to think about this webinar as a way to help deacons in all congregations.”
Miller cited another inspiration for the upcoming webinar: Coming Alive In Christ: Training for Ruling Elders and Deacons based on the Constitutional Questions, the resource that stimulated the Year of Leader Formation and features a multi-session study based on questions that both ruling elders and deacons answer upon ordination to their ministries.
“There isn’t currently much guidance from the national church for deacons,” Miller said.
She characterized the Book of Order’s description of deacon ministry as “broad.”
“As they live into that description, some deacons assist with pastoral care, help with community outreach or facilitate church fellowship," Miller said. "At some congregations the role is inward-focused, at others outward-focused, and at others a mix of both.”
Miller hopes that the upcoming webinar, and related conversations to follow the Year of Leader Formation, will bring about an appreciation of innovative forms of deacon ministry as well as assistance for deacons in their important role within our congregations and their communities.