Deacon Michael has kindly shared this revision of his previous study with us, a very valuable piece of work in an area of study where resources are so few. Canon D. Michael Jackson is Deacon at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada and the longest-serving deacon in the Anglican Church of Canada. Find the whole paper here
The author has been a deacon since 1977 and is the longest-serving deacon in the Anglican Church of Canada. For many years, he was challenged about why he was a deacon: “When are you becoming a real minister?” “When are you being ordained?” “Why are you not going on to the priesthood?” While Anglicans have traditionally paid lip service to the three orders of ordained ministry of bishop, priest or presbyter, and deacon, in practice they have more often been in the situation described by a preacher at an ordination of “transitional”deacons in the 1980s in the Episcopal Church in the United States:
[The preacher] knows full well that this person in front of him, now being ordained with such solemnity, will to all intents and purposes have to go through it all again in six months or a year’s time to be ordained as a priest. Of course we say, “Once a deacon, always a deacon,” but this is pious fiction. The ordination of a deacon, as at present practised, is usually little more than a farce.1
The diaconate has evolved immensely in the generation since those words were written, not only in the Anglican Communion but in the Roman Catholic, Lutheran and other churches, where the “vocational” diaconate has come to the fore and proved its value. Changed understandings of diakonia, diaconate and deacons have very much influenced this evolution. Our purpose is to introduce the renewed diaconate to those who may not be familiar with it, and provide helpful information to deacons, diaconal candidates, and indeed all interested in the Church’s ministry.
The ecumenical dimension of the diaconate is prominent in The Diaconate Renewed. The Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle entered into a covenant relationship with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina in 2011 and the diaconate was very much on the agenda, culminating in the conference held in 2018. In 2020 the covenant expanded, to include all jurisdictions of the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Ukrainian Catholic, and Evangelical Lutheran Churches in the Province of Saskatchewan. The four churches, locally and worldwide, share a historical experience of the order of deacons and now share in its renewal.
A detailed study of the liturgical role of the deacon is provided in a separate paper, The Deacon in the Worshipping Community, also available on the website of the Diocese of Qu’Appelle.
All Saints Day, 2020
1 Reginald Fuller, quoted in James M. Barnett, The Diaconate: A Full and Equal Order, revised edition (Valley Forge PA: Trinity Press International, 1995), xi.