Following is an educational piece and part two of a three-part series offered by Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld on the role of Deacons in this synod and in God’s church.
Part 2 – Deacons in SCSW: ELCA Constitution Addresses Ministry of Word and Service
There are 12 pages in the ELCA Constitution that address the Ministry of Word and Service, pages 42-54 specifically. In an effort to assist us in understanding more about our deacons, I want to call you attention to the sections of the ELCA Constitution printed below. (You may access the ELCA Constitution at http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Constitutions_Bylaws_and_Continuing_Resolutions_of_the_ELCA.pdf )
7.51. This church calls and receives onto the roster qualified persons to provide a ministry of Word and Service, exemplifying the life of Christ-like service to all persons and creation: nurturing, healing, leading, advocating dignity and justice, and equipping the whole people of God for their life of witness and service within and beyond the congregation for the sake of God’s mission in the world.
7.61.02. Responsibilities. Consistent with the faith and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, every minister of Word and Service shall:
- be rooted in the Word of God, for proclamation and service;
- advocate a prophetic diakonia that commits itself to risk-taking and innovative service on the frontiers of the Church’s outreach, giving particular attention to the suffering places in God’s world;
- speak publicly to the world in solidarity with the poor and oppressed, calling for justice and proclaiming God’s love for the world, witnessing to the realm of God in the community, the nation, and abroad;
- equip the baptized for ministry in God’s world that affirms the gifts of all people;
- encourage mutual relationships that invite participation and accompaniment of others in God’s mission;
- practice stewardship that respects God’s gift of time, talents, and resources;
- be grounded in a gathered community for ongoing diaconal formation;
- share knowledge of the ELCA and its wider ministry of the gospel, and advocate for the work of all expressions of this church; and
- identify and encourage qualified persons to prepare for ministry of the gospel.
WOW. Did you know all that? Deacons have a valuable ministry in this church. Deacons serve alongside pastors. Note that, for the most part, deacons are not responsible for what I call the A, B, C’s of ministry – Absolution, Baptism and Consecration of Eucharist. This means deacons do not preside at Holy Communion or Holy Baptism or pronounce absolution at Confession.
Can you see why the ministry of deacons can be valuable in congregations, agencies, synods, and our churchwide organization?
More next time.
Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld