Growing Strong in Faith
From the earliest Christian communities, there have been those who are called to a ministry of Presence and Hospitality. They are our Deacons.
In the PC(USA), Deacons are ordained for life.
“Exhibit within the church and before the world the exemplary moral authority of sympathy, witness and service after the example of Jesus Christ.”
Being a servant to all is tough business. Working with people’s problems, hurts, disappointments and needs requires, as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Book of Order puts it, that deacons be “persons of spiritual character.” They should be persons of deep faith and high moral standards (see 1 Timothy 3:8–13), committed to a life of prayer, study and other spiritual disciplines. Attention to these practices can help deacons persevere during times of disappointment or burnout.
The office of deacon was established early in the New Testament church to make sure food was distributed to widows and others in need (see Acts 6:1–6). The leader of the first group of deacons was Stephen, whose witness cost him his life (Acts 7).
Early Protestant reformer John Calvin believed that the primary task of the deacon was to take care of the poor and to distribute alms. According to Calvin, helping the poor is worth everything — even to the point of giving yourself and all of your possessions.
To be a deacon involves becoming a servant to others — a role that may not seem very appealing. But this is exactly the role to which Jesus calls all who are truly committed to following him:
“… whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43–45).
IPC’s nine Deacons meet regularly to make sure that every person associated with our faith community is connected to the rest of us through the love and fellowship of Jesus Christ. Whether providing meals, check-in phone calls, cards, or a lingering hug during a home or hospital visit, our Deacons carry the Light of Christ with them in their hearts.