John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

What do deacons do?

I was at church last night for the monthly Deacon's meeting, which leads me to recall that a few months ago I wrote brief article for the church newsletter about what the Board of Deacons does. And I says to my self, self, why not reproduce that article in your journal?

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     At a recent meeting of the Communications Team, Pastor Glen brought up using Tidings not just to talk about recent events in the life of the church and promote upcoming ones, but also about how those things happen. Process is an important part of Presbyterianism, after all! Recalling that something similar had been discussed at the last Deacons meeting, I suggested that the Deacons could, as the Session does each month, print its minutes, and perhaps highlight something we had recently accomplished. And since I’m a Deacon, I said I would do just that once I had the minutes from the August meeting.

     Once I had the minutes in hand, I saw a flaw in my plan: most of our meetings are largely identical. The details change from month to month, but the nature of our work and our conversations are such that we can’t go into much detail without potentially violating people’s privacy.

     So I’ll just talk a bit about what a typical Deacons meeting is like. We open with prayer, of course, led by one of the Deacons. That’s generally followed by a joke, usually a bad one. Then the Deacon who provided treats shows off what he or she brought. Sometimes it’s homemade baked goods; sometimes it’s cookies bought at the PDQ on the way to the meeting; either way, they get eaten!

     Following that, we discuss what we call Congregational Needs and Nurturing. We talk about who we’ve met and who we’ve missed; we bring up any needs we’ve become aware of and try to figure out how we might be able to help; and we talk about how we’ve served. We also get a brief report from the Deacon on Call — each month, one person is responsible for coordinating the diaconal response to any request for assistance that might arise between meetings — after which the Deacon on Call’s binder is handed over to the next Deacon on Call. This is the heart of the meeting; nurturing and meeting the needs of the congregation is what being a Deacon is all about!

     After that, we go into a “time of enrichment.” Typically, this takes the form of a book discussion. Last year, for example, we read and discussed From Nomads to Pilgrims, a collection of essays about how mainline Protestant congregations around the country have revitalized themselves in creative ways. And we close with a prayer, during which we try to name those people who came up during the discussion of congregational needs and nurturing.

     Of course, every meeting is unique. At our August meeting, for example, our time for enrichment was spent brainstorming how we’d like to use our enrichment time this year. And there were no treats, except insofar as we Deacons served as treats for the mosquitoes that joined our outdoor meeting. And during upcoming meetings we’ll devote time to specific projects, such as the all-church picnic and the greening and degreening of the church. But that’s a discussion for another day.

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Hey, this daily updating thing is pretty easy if you just repurpose old content!
Tags: religion

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