A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christian churches
that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which
varies among theological and denominational traditions. In many
traditions the diaconate is a clerical office; in others it is for
laity. Some Christian churches, such as the Catholic Church, the
Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican church view the diaconate as
part of the clerical state.
The word deacon is derived from the Greek word diákonos
(διάκονος), which is a standard ancient Greek word meaning
"servant", "waiting-man", "minister", or "messenger". One commonly
promulgated speculation as to its etymology is that it literally means
"through the dust", referring to the dust raised by the busy servant
It is generally assumed that the office of deacon originated in the
selection of seven men by the apostles, among them Stephen, to assist
with the charitable work of the early church as recorded in Acts
The title deaconess (διακόνισσα diakónissa) is not found in
the Bible. However, one woman, Phoebe, is mentioned at Romans 16:1–2
as a deacon (διάκονος diákonos) of the church in Cenchreae.
Nothing more specific is said about her duties or authority, although
it is assumed she carried Paul's Letter to the Romans. The exact
relationship between male and female deacons varies. In some
traditions a female deacon is simply a member of the order of deacons,
while in others, deaconesses constitute a separate order. In some
traditions, the title "deaconess" was also sometimes given to the wife
of a deacon.
Female deacons are mentioned by
Pliny the Younger
Pliny the Younger in a letter to the
Trajan dated c. A.D. 112.
“I believed it was necessary to find out from two female slaves (ex
duabus ancillis) who were called deacons (ministrae), what was
true—and to find out through torture (per tormenta)”
This is the earliest Latin text that appears to refer to female
deacons as a distinct category of Christian minister.
A biblical description of the qualities required of a deacon, and of
his household, can be found in 1 Timothy 3:1–13.
Among the more prominent deacons in history are Stephen, the first
Christian martyr (the "protomartyr"); Philip, whose baptism of the
Ethiopian eunuch is recounted in Acts 8:26–40; St. Phoebe, who is
mentioned in the letter to the Romans; Saint Lawrence, an early Roman
martyr; Saint Vincent of Saragossa, protomartyr of Spain; Saint
Francis of Assisi, founder of the mendicant Franciscans; Saint Ephrem
the Syrian; and Saint Romanos the Melodist, a prominent early
hymnographer. Prominent historical figures who played major roles as
deacons and went on to higher office include Athanasius of Alexandria,
Thomas Becket, and Reginald Pole. On June 8, A.D. 536 a serving Roman
deacon was raised to Pope, Silverius.
The title is also used for the president, chairperson, or head of a
trades guild in Scotland; and likewise to two officers of a Masonic
1 Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism
1.1 Roman Catholicism
Eastern Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism
2 Calvinistic churches
2.1 Church of Scotland
2.2 Presbyterian Church (PCUSA, PCA, OPC, etc.)
2.3 Dutch Reformed churches
3 Methodist churches
4 Other traditions
4.1 Iglesia ni Cristo
4.3 Church of the Brethren
Uniting Church in Australia
4.6 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
4.7 Church of Christ
4.8 New Apostolic Church
4.9 Jehovah's Witnesses
6 Scots usage
7 See also
9.1 Church of Christ
9.2 Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
9.3 Lutheran Church
10 External links
Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism
The diaconate is one of the major orders in the Catholic, Anglican,
Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches. The other major
orders are those of bishop and presbyter (priest) and, historically
While the diaconate as a vocation was maintained from earliest
Apostolic times to the present in the Eastern churches (Orthodox and
Catholic), it mostly disappeared in the Western church (with a few
notable exceptions such as St. Francis of Assisi) during the first
millennium, with Western churches retaining deacons attached to
diocesan cathedrals. The diaconate continued in a vestigial form as a
temporary, final step along the course toward ordination to
priesthood. In the 20th century, the diaconate was restored as a
vocational order in many Western churches, most notably in the Latin
Rite of the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, and the United
In Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches, deacons assist priests
in their pastoral and administrative duties, but often report
indirectly to the bishops of their diocese. They have a distinctive
role in the liturgy of the Eastern and Western Churches. In the
Eastern Church, deacons have a profound liturgical presence in the
Divine Liturgy. In the Western Church,
Pope St. Gregory the Great
greatly reduced the liturgical role of the deacon in the Roman Rite,
limiting them to serving the bishop, the proclamation of the Gospel,
assisting the celebrant at the altar aside from the deacon's calling
of charity. Today, deacons are also granted permission to preach.
Part of a series on the
Hierarchy of the
Ecclesiastical titles (order of precedence)
Moderator of the curia
Chaplain of His Holiness
Assistant at the Pontifical Throne
Administrative and pastoral titles
Defender of the Bond
Consecrated and professed titles
Master of novices
Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Order of the Holy Sepulchre
In Poland, a Catholic deacon chants the
Exsultet at the Easter Vigil.
Beginning around the fifth century, there was a gradual decline in the
permanent diaconate in the Latin church. It has however remained a
vital part of the Eastern Catholic Churches. From that time until
the years just prior to the Second Vatican Council, the only men
ordained as deacons were seminarians who were completing the last year
or so of graduate theological training, so-called "transitional
deacons", who received the order after they complete their third year
at the theological seminary, several months before priestly
Following the recommendations of the council (in Lumen gentium, 29),
in A.D. 1967
Pope Paul VI issued the motu proprio Sacrum Diaconatus
Ordinem, restoring the ancient practice of ordaining to the diaconate
men who were not candidates for priestly ordination. These men are
known as permanent deacons in contrast to those continuing their
formation, who were then called transitional deacons. There is no
sacramental or canonical difference between the two, however, as there
is only one order of deacons.
Ornately embroidered dalmatic, the proper vestment of the deacon
(shown from the back with an appareled amice)
The permanent diaconate formation period in the Roman Catholic Church
varies from diocese to diocese as it is determined by the local
ordinary. But it usually entails a year of prayerful preparation, a
four- or five-year training period that resembles a collegiate course
of study, and a year of post-ordination formation as well as the need
for lifelong continuing education credits. Diaconal candidates receive
instruction in philosophy, theology, study of the Holy Scriptures (the
Bible), homiletics, sacramental studies, evangelization, ecclesiology,
counseling, and pastoral care and ministry before ordination. Although
they are assigned to work in a parish – which for permanent
deacons will usually be their home parish who sponsored them and
possibly nearby parishes and certain other ministries (judge on the
tribunal, marriage counselor, diocesan vice chancellor, hospital or
school vice chaplain) – by the diocesan bishop, once assigned,
deacons are under the supervision of the parish pastors and, for those
working in diocesan ministries, the priest or other individual
overseeing those offices, if the deacon is not in charge there.
Unlike most clerics, permanent deacons who also have a secular
profession have no right to receive a salary for their ministry,
but many dioceses opt to remunerate them anyway.
The ministry of the deacon in the Roman
Catholic Church is described
as one of service in three areas: the Word, the
Liturgy and Charity.
The deacon's ministry of the Word includes proclaiming the Gospel
during the Mass, preaching and teaching. The deacon's liturgical
ministry includes various parts of the Mass proper to the deacon,
including being an ordinary minister of
Holy Communion and the proper
minister of the chalice when
Holy Communion is administered under both
kinds. The ministry of charity involves service to the poor and
marginalized and working with parishioners to help them become more
involved in such ministry. As clerics, deacons are required to pray
Liturgy of the Hours. Deacons, like priests and bishops, are
ordinary ministers of the sacrament of
Baptism and can serve as the
church's witness at the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which the bride
and groom administer to each other (though if the exchange of vows
takes place in a wedding Mass, or Nuptial Mass, the Mass is celebrated
by the priest and the deacon acts as another witness). Deacons may
preside at funeral rites not involving a Mass (e.g., the final
commendation at the gravesite or the reception of the body at a
service in the funeral home), and may assist the priest at the Requiem
Mass. They can preside over various services such as Benediction of
the Blessed Sacrament, and they may give certain blessings. They
cannot hear confession and give absolution, anoint the sick, or
At Mass, the deacon is the ordinary minister of the proclamation of
Gospel (in fact, a priest, bishop, or even the
Pope should not
Gospel if a deacon is present) and of Holy Communion
(primarily, of the Precious Blood). As ordained clerics, and if
granted faculties by their bishops, deacons may preach the homily at a
public Mass, unless the priest celebrant retains that ministry to
himself at a given Mass.
Catholic deacon wearing a dalmatic
The vestments most particularly associated with the Western Rite
Catholic deacon are the alb, stole and dalmatic. Deacons, like priests
and bishops, must wear their albs and stoles; deacons place the stole
over their left shoulder and it hangs across to their right side,
while priests and bishops wear it around their necks. The dalmatic, a
vestment especially associated with the deacon, is worn during the
celebration of the Mass and other liturgical functions; its use is
more liberally applied than the corresponding vestment of the priest,
the chasuble. In the United States, some deacons only wear the
dalmatic at Masses that are considered feasts, solemnities, or solemn
or important occasions, such as ordinations, weddings, funerals,
Baptisms, or dedication ceremonies. At certain major celebrations,
such as ordinations, the diocesan bishop wears a dalmatic under his
chasuble, to signify that he enjoys the fullness of the three degrees
of Holy Orders – deacon, priest, and Bishop.
Permanent deacons often serve in parish or other ministry as their
time permits, since they typically have other full-time employment.
They may also act as parish administrators (c. A.D. 217 of the Code of
Canon Law). With the passage of time, more and more deacons are
serving in full-time ministries in parishes, hospitals, prisons, and
in diocesan positions. Deacons often work directly in ministry to the
marginalized inside and outside the church: the poor, the sick, the
hungry, the imprisoned.
The transitional diaconate is to be conferred on seminarians
(continuing to the priesthood) no sooner than 23 years of age (c. A.D.
1031 of the Code of Canon Law). The permanent diaconate can be
conferred on single men 25 or older, and on married men 35 or older,
but an older age can be required by the episcopal conference. If a
married deacon is widowed, he must maintain the celibate state. Under
some very rare circumstances, however, deacons who have been widowed
can receive permission to remarry. This is most commonly done when the
deacon is left as a single father. In some cases, a widowed deacon
will seek priestly ordination, especially if his children are
grown. (See also clerical celibacy.) The wife of a permanent
deacon may be sometimes considered a partner in his ordained ministry.
In many dioceses, the wife of the diaconal candidate undertakes the
same education and training her husband does.
A deacon is not styled "Father" as a priest would be, but as
"Deacon", (in Spanish, "Diácono") abbreviated variously as
"Dn." or "Dcn." This preferred method of address is stated in the A.D.
2005 document of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,
National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent
Deacons in the United States. The proper address in written
correspondence for all Deacons of the Latin (Roman Rite) Catholic
Church in the United States is "
Deacon Name", although it is not
uncommon to see "Rev. Mr." sometimes used. "Rev. Mr.", however, is
more often used to indicate a transitional deacon (i.e., preparing for
ordination to the priesthood) or one who belongs to a religious
institute, while Rev.
Deacon is used as the honorific for permanent
deacons in many dioceses (e.g. Rev.
Deacon John Smith, or
Smith). The decision as to whether deacons wear the
Roman collar as
street attire is left to the discretion of each bishop for his own
diocese. Where clerical garb is approved by the bishop, the deacon can
choose to wear or not wear the "collar". Where it is
not permitted, the deacon must wear secular clothing. It is becoming
more common to see deacons wearing a clerical suit especially in
prisons and jails.
Deacons, like seminarians, religious, and the two other orders,
bishops and priests, pray the
Liturgy of the Hours; however, deacons
are usually only required to pray Morning and Evening Prayer.
In solemn Masses today and more so in older Rites of the Mass, one
deacon will serve as the
Deacon of the Word (proclaiming the Gospel
and the Kyrie, and some other parts), and the
Deacon of the Eucharist,
who assists the priest during the
Liturgy of the Eucharist. Before the
reforms of Vatican Council II and the restoration of the permanent
diaconate, it was common for a priest to vest as a deacon at High Mass
and perform the parts assigned for the deacon. Those who have embraced
the reforms of the Council generally consider it an abuse for a priest
to vest as a deacon. If a priest or priests have to undertake certain
duties normally allowed to a deacon – the homily, being a
minister of the chalice, visiting prisons or hospitals, etc., he will
vest as a priest, wearing the chasuble – or at least the stole
and alb – at Mass and solemn ceremonies, and the clerical suit
with collar elsewhere.
Eastern Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism
Greek Orthodox deacon in the
Church of the Nativity
Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem,
wearing an orarion over his sticharion. On his head he wears the
In addition to proclaiming the
Gospel and assisting in the
distribution of Holy Communion, the deacon censes the icons and
people, calls the people to prayer, leads the litanies, and has a role
in the dialogue of the Anaphora. In keeping with Eastern tradition, he
is not permitted to perform any
Sacred Mysteries (sacraments) on his
own, except for
Baptism in extremis (in danger of death), conditions
under which anyone, including the laity, may baptize. When assisting
at a normal baptism, it is often the deacon who goes down into the
water with the one being baptized (Acts 8:38). In contrast to the
Roman Catholic Church, deacons in the Eastern Churches may not preside
at the celebration of marriages, as in Eastern theology the sacrament
is conferred by the nuptial blessing of a priest.
Diaconal vestments are the sticharion (dalmatic), the orarion
(deacon's stole), and the epimanikia (cuffs). The last are worn under
his sticharion, not over it as does a priest or bishop. The deacon
usually wears a simple orarion which is only draped over the left
shoulder but, if elevated to the rank of archdeacon, he wears the
"doubled-orarion", meaning it is passed over the left shoulder, under
the right arm, and then crossed over the left shoulder (see
photograph, right). In modern Greek practice, a deacon wears this
doubled orarion from the time of his ordination. Also, in the Greek
practice, he wears the clerical kamilavka (cylindrical head covering)
with a rim at the top. In Slavic practice, a hierodeacon (monastic
deacon) wears the simple black kamilavka of a monk (without the rim),
but he removes the monastic veil (see klobuk) when he is vested; a
married deacon would not wear a kamilavka unless it is given to him by
the bishop as an ecclesiastical award; the honorary kamilavka is
purple in colour, and may be awarded to either married or monastic
As far as street clothing is concerned, immediately following his
ordination the deacon receives a blessing to wear the Exorasson
(Arabic: Jib'be, Slavonic: Riassa), an outer cassock with wide
sleeves, in addition to the Anterion (Slavonic: Podraznik), the inner
cassock worn by all orders of clergy. In the Slavic practice, married
clergy may wear any of a number of colours, but most often grey, while
monastic clergy always wear black. In certain jurisdictions in North
America and Western Europe, a
Roman collar is often worn, although
this is not a traditional or widespread practice.
A protodeacon (Greek: πρωτοδιάκονος: protodiakonos,
"first deacon") is a distinction of honor awarded to senior deacons,
usually serving on the staff of the diocesan bishop. An archdeacon is
similar, but is among the monastic clergy. Protodeacons and
archdeacons use a double-length orarion even if it is not the local
tradition for all deacons to use it. In the Slavic tradition a deacon
may be awarded the doubled-orarion even if he is not a protodeacon or
Painting of a
Russian Orthodox deacon leading an ektenia (litany)
According to the practice of the
Greek Orthodox Church of America, in
keeping with the tradition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the most
common way to address a deacon is "Father". Depending on local
tradition, deacons are addressed as either "Father", "Father Deacon",
Deacon Father", or, if addressed by a Bishop, simply as "Deacon".
The tradition of kissing the hands of ordained clergy extends to the
diaconate as well. This practice is rooted in the Holy
is in acknowledgement and respect of the eucharistic role members of
the clergy play in preparing, handling and disbursing the sacrament
during the Divine Liturgy, and in building and serving the church as
the Body of Christ.
Anciently, the Eastern churches ordained women as deaconesses. This
practice fell into desuetude in the second millennium, but has been
revived in some Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches. Saint
Nectarios of Aegina
Nectarios of Aegina ordained a number of nuns as deaconesses in
convents. Deaconesses would assist in anointing and baptising women,
and in ministering to the spiritual needs of the women of the
community. As churches discontinued ordaining women as deacons, these
duties largely fell to the nuns and to the priests' wives.
(See also clerical celibacy.)
An Anglican priest vested as a deacon with an alb and a purple stole
over his left shoulder
In Anglican churches, deacons often work directly in ministry to the
marginalized inside and outside the church: the poor, the sick, the
hungry, the imprisoned. Unlike Orthodox and Catholic deacons who may
be married only before ordination, Anglican deacons are permitted to
marry freely before or after ordination, as are Anglican priests. Most
deacons are "transitional", that is, preparing for the priesthood and
they are usually ordained priests about a year after their diaconal
ordination. However, there are some deacons who do not go on to
receive priestly ordination, so called "permanent deacons". Many
provinces of the
Anglican Communion ordain both women and men as
deacons. Many of those provinces that ordain women to the priesthood
previously allowed them to be ordained only to the diaconate. The
effect of this was the creation of a large and overwhelmingly female
diaconate for a time, as most men proceeded to be ordained priests
after a short time as a deacon.
Certificate of ordination as a deacon in the Church of England given
by Richard Terrick, the
Bishop of London, to Gideon Bostwick. February
Anglican deacons may baptize and in some dioceses are granted licences
to solemnize matrimony, usually under the instruction of their parish
priest and bishop. Deacons are not able to preside at the Eucharist
(but can lead worship with the distribution of already-consecrated
communion elements where this is permitted), nor can they pronounce
God's absolution of sin or pronounce the Trinitarian blessing. In
most cases, deacons minister alongside other clergy.
An Anglican deacon wears an identical choir dress to an Anglican
priest: cassock, surplice, tippet and academic hood. However,
liturgically, deacons usually wear a stole over their left shoulder
and fastened on the right side of their waist. This is worn both over
the surplice and the alb. A deacon might also wear a dalmatic.
Main article: Deaconess
The title "woman deacon" or "deaconess" appears in many documents from
the early Church period, particularly in the East. Their duties were
often different from that of male deacons; women deacons prepared
adult women for baptism and they had a general apostolate to female
Christians and catechumens (typically for the sake of modesty).
Women appear to have been ordained as deacons to serve the larger
community until about the 6th century in the West  and in the East
until modern times.
Liturgies for the ordination of women deacons are quite similar to
those for male deacons and the ancient ordination rites have been
noted by groups like Womenpriests. Although it is sometimes argued
that women deacons of history were not sacramentally ordained in the
full sense used in the present day in Canons 1008 and 1009 of the Code
of Canon Law, some modern scholars argue that the ordination of
women deacons would have been equally sacramental to that of male
Catholic Church is investigating the possibility of
restoring women to the diaconate, but as of yet does not permit
female deacons. Unlike in the case of priestly ordination, the Vatican
has declined to state that ordination of women to the diaconate is not
Russian Orthodox Church had a female diaconate into the
20th century. The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece restored
a monastic female diaconate in 2004.
Church of Scotland
There are two distinct offices of
Deacon in the Church of Scotland.
The best known form of diaconate are trained, paid pastoral workers,
often working in parishes with considerable social and economic
deprivation. The permanent diaconate was formerly exclusively female,
and it was in the centenary year of the Diaconate (1988) that men were
admitted to the office of Deacon. Women could not be ordained as
Ministers until 1968. The offices of
Deacon and Minister are now both
open to both women and men; Deacons are now ordained (they were
The other office of
Deacon can be found in congregations formerly
belonging to the pre-1900 Free Church of Scotland, with a "Deacons'
Court" having responsibility for financial and administrative
oversight of congregations. Only a few congregations still retain this
constitutional model, with most having since adopted the Church of
Scotland's "Model Constitution" (with a Kirk Session and
Congregational Board) or "Unitary Congregation" (with just a Kirk
Session). Most of the Free Church congregations united with the United
Presbyterian Church of
Scotland in 1900 creating the United Free
Church of Scotland, which itself united with the Church of
The congregations of the Free Church of
Scotland (post 1900) which did
not join the UF Church in 1900 continue to have Deacons.
Presbyterian Church (PCUSA, PCA, OPC, etc.)
Individual congregations of these church denominations also elect
deacons, along with elders. However, in some churches the
property-functions of the diaconate and session of elders is commended
to an independent board of trustees. John Calvin's legacy of restoring
a servant-ministry diaconate lives on in the Presbyterian
churches. Deacons are specially charged with ministries of mercy,
especially toward the sick and the poor.
Dutch Reformed churches
In many Dutch Reformed churches deacons are charged with ministries of
mercy. As such, the deacons are also members of the local church
council. A special feature of the Dutch Reformed churches is the fact
that the Diaconate of each local church is its own legal entity with
its own financial means, separated from the church itself, and
governed by the deacons.
In Methodism, deacons began as a transitional order before ordination
as elders (presbyters). In 1996, the
United Methodist Church
United Methodist Church ended the
transitional deacon and established a new Order of Deacons to be equal
in status with the Order of Elders. Both men and women may be ordained
as deacons. Deacons serve in a variety of specialized ministries
including, but not limited to, Christian education, music,
communications and ministries of justice and advocacy. Unlike United
Methodist elders, deacons must find their own place of service.
Nevertheless, the bishop does officially approve and appoint deacons
to their selected ministry. Deacons may assist the elder in the
administration of Sacraments, but must receive special approval from a
bishop before presiding over
Baptism and Holy Communion. United
Methodist deacons are present in North America, Europe and Africa.
Methodist Church of Great Britain
Methodist Church of Great Britain also has a permanent
diaconate—based on an understanding of the
New Testament that
deacons have an equal, but distinct ministry from presbyters. Deacons
are called to a ministry of service and witness, and "to hold before
them the needs and concerns of the world". The original Wesleyan
Deaconess Order was founded by Thomas Bowman Stephenson in 1890,
following observation of new ministries in urban areas in the previous
years. The order continued as the Wesley
Deaconess Order following
Methodist Union in 1932, but, following the admission of women to "The
Ministry" (as presbyteral ministry is commonly termed in the Methodist
Church), a number of deaconesses transferred and recruitment for the
WDO ceased from 1978. The 1986 Methodist Conference re-opened the
order to both men and women and the first ordinations to the renewed
order occurred during the 1990 Conference in Cardiff, which coincided
with celebrations of 100 years of diaconal service in British
Methodism; deaconesses had previously been ordained at their annual
Methodist Church of Southern Africa
Methodist Church of Southern Africa ordains deacons who constitute
a diaconal order, similar to that in the British church.
Deacons are also appointed or elected in other Protestant
denominations, though this is less commonly seen as a step towards the
clerical ministry. The role of deacon in these denominations varies
greatly from denomination to denomination; often, there will be more
emphasis on administrative duties than on pastoral or liturgical
duties. In some denominations, deacons' duties are only financial
management and practical aid and relief. Elders handle pastoral and
other administrative duties.
Iglesia ni Cristo
Iglesia ni Cristo's deacons serve as worship service's strict
etiquette checkers in male's seatings,deaconesses are their female
counterparts. They also serve as offering collectors and other Church
duties during worship services. Deacons are required to be married
people and have their faith strong and be a good example to others if
you want to be a deacon. There is also a Head Deacon,who leads the
congregation in prayer before the sermon and the prayer for voluntary
Amish have deacons, but they are elected by a council and receive
no formal training.
Church of the Brethren
Church of the Brethren
Church of the Brethren also have deacons, as do other Brethren
denominations. They are elected by the congregation to serve in
ministries of compassion. They are elected for life in some
Baptists have traditionally followed the principle of the autonomy of
the local church congregation, giving each church the ability to
discern for themselves the interpretation of scripture. Thus, the
views among Baptist churches as to who becomes a deacon and when, as
well as what they do and how they go about doing it, vary greatly.
Baptists recognize two ordained positions in the church as Elders
(Pastors) and Deacons, as per 1 Timothy 3.
There are Baptist churches where the deacons decide many of the church
affairs. There are churches where deacons serve in a family ministry
only. There are Baptist churches (especially in the United Kingdom,
but also in the U.S. and elsewhere) where women are allowed to be
deacons; while many Baptist churches (including most churches that are
affiliated with the
Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist Convention as well as many
Independent Baptist) do not allow women to serve as deacons. Many
Baptists also interpret Scripture as prohibiting divorced men from
serving as deacons while some even prohibit men who have never been
married from serving as deacons.
In the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, deacons can be
any adult male member of the congregation who is in good standing.
In some African American Missionary Baptist churches and in churches
affiliated with the
National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. male and
female deacons serve as one board. Other churches may have two
separate boards of deacons and deaconesses. Most often the deacon or
deacon candidate is a long-standing member of the church, being middle
aged, but younger deacons may be selected from among members of a
family that has had several generations in the same church. They are
elected by quorum vote annually. Their roles are semi-pastoral in that
they fill in for the pastor on occasion, or support the pastor vocally
during his sermon. They may also lead a special prayer service,
generally known as "The Deacon's Prayer." Their other roles are to
accompany the pastor during Communion by handing out the remembrances
of bread and wine (or grape juice) and to set a good example for
others to follow. Their administrative duties sometimes include
oversight of the treasury, Sunday school curriculum, transportation,
and various outreach ministries.
Baptist Distinctives for a more detailed treatment of Deacons in
churches in other Associations, particularly the UK.
Uniting Church in Australia
Uniting Church in Australia, the diaconate is one of two
offices of ordained ministry. The other is Minister of the Word.
Deacons in the
Uniting Church are called to minister to those on the
fringes of the church and be involved in ministry in the community.
Deacons offer leadership in a ministry of service to the world. The
primary focus of the ministry of
Deacon is on care and compassion for
the poor and oppressed and in seeking social justice for all people.
They take both an active role in leadership in such actions
themselves, but are also play a key role in encouraging other Uniting
Church members in similar action.
Some examples of service that Deacons may take include: prison
chaplaincy, acting as youth or community workers, in community service
agencies, in schools and hospitals, or in mission placements in
Australia or overseas. Although the primary responsibility for worship
in congregations lies with the Ministers of the Word, Deacons have a
liturgical role appropriate to their distinctive ministry, including
ministries where their main leadership is within a congregation.
Uniting Church both ministers of the word and deacons are
styled The Reverend.
Uniting Church has recognised deacons since union, but it was not
until the 6th Assembly in 1991 that the
Uniting Church began ordaining
deacons. This was partly because the historical, theological and
sociological roles of deaconesses and deacons was being widely
discussed in Churches throughout the world at the time that the Basis
of Union was being drafted 
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Deacon (Latter Day Saints)
Deacon (Latter Day Saints) and Priesthood (Latter Day
The office of
Deacon is generally open to all 12- and 13-year-old male
members of the church; all are encouraged to become Deacons. Duties
Gather fast offerings.
Pass the sacrament.
Serve as the bishop's messenger.
Care for the grounds and physical facilities of the church.
Assist in service projects or welfare assignments as assigned by the
Watch over the Church and act as standing ministers (see D&C
Be involved in missionary and reactivation efforts (see D&C
Assist teachers in all their duties as needed (see D&C 20:53, 57).
Give talks in Church meetings.
Help the priest in his duties and help inspire the church's laity.
Church of Christ
In accordance with Church of Christ doctrine and practice, only males
may serve as deacons (deaconesses are not recognized), and must meet
Biblical qualifications (generally I Timothy 3:8-13 is the Biblical
text used to determine if a male is qualified to serve as deacon). A
deacon may also be qualified to serve as an elder (and, in fact, may
move into that role after a period of time if his service as deacon is
The role of the deacon varies, depending on the local congregation.
Generally a deacon will have responsibility for a specific
non-spiritual function (e.g. finance, building and grounds,
benevolence); however, the deacons (like the rest of the congregation)
are under the subjection of the elders, who have spiritual and
administrative authority over the deacon's function.
In congregations which lack qualified elders (where, in their absence,
the men of the congregation handle leadership duties), a deacon would
have ruling authority, but not due to his position as a deacon.
New Apostolic Church
In the New Apostolic Church, the deacon ministry is a local ministry.
A deacon mostly works in his home congregation to support the priests.
If a priest is unavailable, a deacon will hold a divine service,
without the act of communion (Only Priests and up can consecrate Holy
Jehovah's Witnesses are referred to as ministerial
servants, claiming it preferable to translate the descriptive Greek
term used in the Bible rather than merely transliterate it as though
it were a title. Appointed ministerial servants aid elders in
congregational duties. Like the elders, they are adult baptized
males and serve voluntarily.
The Greek word diakonos (διάκονος) gave rise to the following
terms from the history of Russia, not to be confused with each other:
"dyak", "podyachy", "dyachok", in addition to "deacon" and
In Scots, the title deacon is used for a head-workman, a master or
chairman of a trade guild, or one who is adept, expert and proficient.
The term deaconry refers to the office of a deacon or the trade guild
under a deacon".
The most famous holder of this title was
Deacon Brodie who was a
cabinet-maker and president of the Incorporation of Wrights and Masons
as well as being a
Burgh councillor of Edinburgh, but at night led a
double life as a burglar. He is thought to have inspired the story of
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
^ "deacon". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
(4th ed.). Bartleby. 2000. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
^ Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert (1889). An Intermediate
Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
ISBN 0-19-910206-6. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
^ Partridge, Eric (1983). Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of
Modern English. New York: Greenwich House.
^ Thurston, Herbert (1913). "Deacons". In Herbermann, Charles.
Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved
^ Hopko, Thomas. "Holy Orders". Retrieved 2007-10-18.
^ a b Madigan, Kevin (2011). Ordained Women in the Early Church.
Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 26.
^ Charles M. Wilson, A few additional observations
^ USCCB Diaconate FAQ – Section 5 "Is a
Deacon ordained for the
Parish or the Diocese?" http://www.usccb.org/deacon/faqs.shtml
^ Canon 281 § 3.
^ Details about the permanent diaconate in the United States are
outlined in a A.D. 2005 document of the United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops, National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and
Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States.
^ USCCB – Committee on the Liturgy – Chapter IV
^ (National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of
Permanent Deacons in the United States, 2005, p. 36)
Deacon Trinidad Soc", Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, bulletin, May
3, 2015, p. .
^ "Diácono Trinidad Soc", Parroquia Nuestra Señora de los Dolores,
bulletin, May 3, 2015, p. .
^ The Official Catholic Directory 2013, A-30
^ "Etiquette and Protocol".
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
^ The Christian Faith: Ch 63 – Ordination (2) As a Sacrament
^ John Wijngaards, The Tasks of Women Deacons
url=http://www.womendeacons.org/intro/deac_tas.shtml and Duane L.C.M.
Galles, Women Deacons – Are they Possible?
^ Matthew Smythe, Deaconesses in Late Antique Gaul
^ Thurston, Herbert (1908). "Deaconesses". The Catholic Encyclopedia.
IV. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2007-06-23.
^ http://www.womenpriests.org/deacons/default.asp and
^ Aimé Georges Martimort, Deaconesses: An Historical Study (Ignatius
Press, 1986, ISBN 0-89870-114-7)
^ R. Gryson, The Ministry of Women in the Early Church (Collegeville
1976, p. 120); C.Vagaggini "L'Ordinazione delle diaconesse nella
tradizione greca e bizantina", (Orientalia Christiana Periodica 40
(1974) 145–89; here p. 188); P. Hünermann, "Conclusions regarding
the Female Diaconate" (Theological Studies 36 (1975) 325–33; here
pp. 327–28); A Thiermeyer, "Der Diakonat der Frau" (Theologisch
Quartalschrift 173 (1993) 226–36; here pp. 233–34); P. Hofrichter,
"Diakonat und Frauen im kirchlichen Amt" (Heiliger Dienst 50 (1996)
140–58; esp. 152–54); A. Jensen, "Das Amt der Diakonin in der
kirchlichen Tradition der ersten Jahrtausend" (Diakonat. Ein Amt für
Frauen in der Kirche – Ein frauengerechtes Amt?, Ostfildern
1997, pp. 33–52; here p. 49); D. Ansorge, "Der Diakonat der Frau.
Zum gegenwärtigen Forschungsstand" in T.Berger/A.Gerhards (ed.),
Liturgie und Frauenfrage, St. Odilien 1990, 31–65; here pp. 46–47;
Chr. Böttigheimer, "Der Diakonat der Frau" (Münchener Theologische
Zeitschrift 47 (1996) 253–66; here pp. 261–62); K. Karidoyanes
Fitzgerald (Women Deacons in the Orthodox Church, Brookline 1998, pp.
120–21); P. Zagano, Holy Saturday. An Argument for the Restoration
of the Female Diaconate in the
Catholic Church (New York 2000, pp.
98–102); D. Reininger, Diakonat der Frau in der einen Kirche
(Ostfildern 1999, p. 126); G. Macy, W.T. Ditewig, P. Zagano Women
Deacons: Past, Present, Future (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press 2010); and
J. Wijngaards, Women Deacons in the Early Church. Historical Texts and
Contemporary Debates (Herder & Herder, New York 2002).
^ url="Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on
2008-10-03. Retrieved 2008-08-31.
^ The Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church of America:
Chapter 9 – The Deacon, Section 9-2
^ "Deacons and Diaconal Ministers". General Board of Higher Education
and Ministry – The United Methodist Church. Retrieved 23
^ The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 2008, para.
^ "Deacons and Presbyters". Methodist Diaconal Order.
^ a b "History of the MDO". Methodist Diaconal Order. Retrieved 23
^ "The Order of Deacons". The Methodist Church of Southern
^ McCaughey, J.D. Commentary on the Basis of Union, Uniting Church
Press: Melbourne, 1980.
^ "Questions From Readers", The Watchtower, June 15, 1962, pp.
383−84, "The religious words or titles 'bishop' and 'deacon' are
simply words that have been more or less closely transliterated into
the English language; that is, they are carried over much like the way
they appear in the Greek instead of being translated. These two words
are epískopos and diákonos. ...However, at an early time the
apostate church made titles out of these designations and applied them
to men who held positions...known as 'bishops' and 'deacons'. ...New
World Translation as well as certain others, such as An American
Translation, do not render epískopos and diákonos as titles but
according to the meaning of the words, as 'overseers' or
'superintendents' and as 'assistants' or 'ministerial servants'."
[emphasis retained from original]
^ "Those 'Acquiring a Fine Standing'", Our Kingdom Ministry, September
1978, p. 1, "The Bible sets high standards for a ministerial servant.
(1 Tim. 3:8–10, 12) Brothers recommended should clearly be meeting
these. Becoming a ministerial servant is no routine thing; it is not
as if almost every adult, baptized male should have the position as a
sort of titleholder. Ministerial servants should be exemplary,
^ "Congregations for Building Up in Love and Unity", Doing God's Will,
1986 Watch Tower, p. 12, "As in the first century, so today,
qualified, mature, and experienced Christian men are designated as
elders, or overseers [among Jehovah's Witnesses]. These supervise the
congregation and look after its spiritual needs. They are assisted by
other faithful men known as ministerial servants. These men receive no
salary or other financial benefit but serve voluntarily, meeting their
Church of Christ
Introducing the Church of Christ. Star Bible Publications, Fort Worth,
Evangelicalism & the Stone-Campbell Movement (William R. Baker,
ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002) for essays on Church of
Thatcher, Tom; "The
Deacon in the Pauline Church" in Christ's
Victorious Church: Essays on Biblical
Ecclesiology and Eschatology
(Jon A. Weatherly, ed. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001).
Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
Deacons – St Mary's Malankara Orthodox Syrian Cathedral
(Philadelphia, PA, US)
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