Recently, the Archbishop of York, an enthusiastic advocate, support and friend of the diaconate, published his Presidential Address to his Diocesan Synod (5 November 2016) advocating a fresh approach to ministry.

He asked for copies to be distributed to everyone in  church communities across the Diocese of York.

This is now available in booklet form:  see link and also this blog’s pages (right hand side)

Here’s what he says about deacons:

Their aim is that the work of service may go on. The word used for service is diakonia; and the main idea which lies behind this word is that of practical service. The office-bearer is not to be a person who simply talks on matters of theology and of Church law; they are in office to see that practical service of God’s poor and lonely people goes on.

This means that every mission unit (parish) must have office-bearers who are equipped by the Gifts of Grace. In every mission unit there must be a desire for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Evangelists, pastors and teachers, a Renewed Diaconal Ministry, Presbyters, and differing ministries by every one. When the Ministry of Readers was restored 150 years ago, they were meant to be the go-between the Church and the World. Frankly this is what the office-bearer of Deacon is as we see in Acts 6 and in our Ordinal.
The Ordination of Deacons
God calls his people to follow Christ, and forms us into a royal priesthood, a holy nation, to declare the wonderful deeds of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light..[3]
The Church is the Body of Christ, the people of God and the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit. .[4] In baptism the whole Church is summoned to witness to God’s love and to work for the coming of his kingdom.
To serve this royal priesthood, God has given a variety of ministries. Deacons are ordained so that the people of God may be better equipped [5] to make Christ known. Theirs is a life of visible self-giving. Christ is the pattern of their calling and their commission; as he washed the feet of his disciples, so they must wash the feet of others. [6]
[3] cf 1 Peter 2.9; Exodus 19.6; Revelation 1.6, 5.10
[4] cf 1 Corinthians 12.27; 1 Peter 2.10; 1 Corinthians 3.16
[5] cf Ephesians 4.12
[6] cf John 13.14


It would be good to have a Leadership Team in every Mission Unit.
It would be good to have Prayer-Triplets in every Mission Unit.
It would be good for every Leadership Team to discern the gifts in the Body of Christ in that place; and we will commission them.
It would be good to turn Multi-Benefice Parishes into manageable United Parishes, and to hold an act of worship in every church on Sunday. We will train catechists to do this.

Radically, he also is encouraging Readers who believe their ministry is primarily diaconal, to explore the diaconate with vocations advisers: 

Clearly some Readers know themselves to be called to the ministry of pastor/teacher. We honour this. Maybe they should be commissioned as such – at their licensing. But some may know themselves to be called to the ministry of deacon. These we should ordain and like in the Porvoo Churches they will not be allowed to seek the possibility of Ordination to the Priesthood before seven years in the Ministry of Deacon.

The full document can be found here


  1. This is really rather radical for the good ole CofE, taking us back to first principles. Yes, he can give a sparkling performance … the cut-up clerical collar would go down a storm in the Africa we know!


  2. John Sentamu is not just a great religious actor, and he does give superb performances, he is able to translate his abilities into a varied range of communications.


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