A deacon is appointed by the bishop to ministry in a local congregation (where about 80 percent serve) or in a church-related, faith-based, or secular setting. Since the Order of Deacons was created in 1996, ordained deacons have carried the church outside its traditional walls to minister to the homeless, work with labor unions, in health care, and more. Deacons have founded non-traditional ministries, too. Other service possibilities include musical, editorial and writing, educational, age-group, artistic, mission-based and other posts.
Like the elder, the deacon is appointed to a post by a bishop. However, unlike an elder, a deacon is non-itinerant. His or her appointment may be initiated by the deacon, an agency seeking his or her service, the bishop, or the district superintendent. The Division of Ordained Ministry offers a Web page on which United Methodist churches, related church agencies, and United Methodist colleges and universities may post available ministry positions.
The first step is consulting with a pastor or deacon and studying appropriate materials to further discern the call. That is followed by further consultation with the congregation’s parish staff/parish relations committee and district superintendent, the help of a mentor, and certification by the district committee on ordained ministry. The candidate must then be recommended to and approved by the conference Board of Ordained Ministry. After educational requirements are complete and approved by the Board of Ordained Ministry, a candidate is commissioned and serves a three-year probationary period, which is considered a trial period leading to full membership in the annual conference.
How many deacons serve in connection with the Michigan Area of the UMC?
More than 30.
What is a missional charge conference?
When deacons serve in an agency or setting beyond the local church, the bishop, after consultation with the deacon and the pastor in charge, shall appoint the deacon to a congregation where they will take missional responsibility for leading other Christians into ministries of service (a “secondary” appointment). Usually, the deacon and lead elder will converse in advance about how their ministry partnership will operate in that setting, the deacon will request the appointment of the bishop, and the deacon and lead elder will develop a covenant of understanding with the congregation’s Staff/Pastor-Parish Relationships Committee.