Grace and peace to everyone. Let me introduce myself. I am Rev. Deacon Jacqueline Rundle. I serve as a Deacon at St. Mary’s Parish in Sioux Lookout, Ontario. I am a “newbie” having been ordained along with 7 other Deacons last fall. I wanted to start up this column in the Keewatin Newspaper for a number of reasons. First of all, writing is always a joy for me and I have a passion for the written word in scripture and in daily life. Next, the order of Diaconate is not that well known in our diocese and so this column will hopefully be educational and informative to all who read it. Also, it is important for all of us to become more acquainted with all the deacons in our region. With such a large geographical region the Keewatin provides the opportunity for everyone to gain knowledge of them and what they do in their ordained ministry. This helps us all to connect with them personally and spiritually as the Deacons go about their work about in the churches and communities in which they serve.
History of the Diaconate
There are 3 direct scriptural discussions about the Order of Deacons in the New Testament.
1. In Romans 16.1, Paul is writing to the Church in Rome and the first person he commends to them is Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae. He then goes on to tell them about the other deacons and helpers who are available to help the Christian community in Rome.
2. Acts 6: 1-6, Luke, the author of the books of Acts is telling about the widows being neglected and not receiving their daily distribution of food. The 12 apostles realize that they cannot do everything. It is a full-time job spreading the word of God and if they focus on caring for those in need they would not be doing what God wanted them to do. So with the power of the Holy Spirit in them they select 7 men in good standing, full of the spirit and wisdom and appoint to them the task of waiting on tables, carrying for the needy. The apostles will devote themselves to prayer and serving the word while the Deacons serve the people in the church. The community is pleased with this and then the apostles have the 7 chosen stand before them and they prayed over them and laid their hands on them.
3. In Paul’s letter to Timothy 3:8, he talks about the qualities necessary for being a Deacon. It is interesting to note here that Paul also includes women in this ministry. I am thankful to God that the Anglican Church of Canada has recognized this and today ordains men and women to the diaconate.
Today in our Church
From these scriptural references the early church established and continued the order of the diaconate. So what is a deacon and what do they do? Many people of asked me this question and are curious about deacons. A deacon is sacramentally dedicated to a Christian ministry of service with the entire authority of the church; a deacon is ordained to be a sign and model of servant-hood. Since diakonia ( Greek word for serving) is to be characteristic of all Christians, the significance of the order of deacons lies in its capacity to provide a focus for what is proper to the Church as a whole. Furthermore, diakonia as it emerges in the teaching of Jesus is not just another term for service or ministry. Wherever true diakonia is to be found, there God’s Kingdom is making its presence felt. Deacons are to live and work as servants of the Church, servants of God’s Kingdom, and servants of the poor.
On Sunday, October 18, 2009 on the Feast Day of St. Luke an extraordinary event took place at St. Alban’s Cathedral in Kenora, Ontario. 8 Deacons were ordained by our Archbishop to the diaconate. Six are to serve in the Southern Region of our diocese and 2 in the Northern Region. This was the first time in our diocese that such a number of Deacons were ordained at the same time. Up to this time, the southern region of our diocese had 2 deacons, John Girioux, Deacon-In-Charge at St. John’s Parish in Lac Du Bonnet, Manitoba and Bev Gustovson, Deacon at St. George’s Parish in Emo, Ontario. In the upcoming columns, I will be interviewing the deacons in the Southern region and we will all be learning how their call by God to the diaconate is manifesting in their parishes. And as Paul wrote to the Romans
15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”