Deacons and Preaching
Deacons: Preaching, Proclamation and their status on the plan
The 2019 Methodist Conference adopted the report The Theology and Ecclesiology Underpinning the Diaconate and the Methodist Diaconal Order.
Resolution 25/5 states: The Conference affirms that preaching is part of the ministry of deacons and directs that from 1st September 2020:
a) Deacons shall no longer be listed as Local Preachers on the Plan;
b) The list of ministers on the plan will follow in the order listed in SO 785(4)(b);
c) All deacons will be members of the Local Preachers’ Meeting
This resolution leads to some further reflection around candidating, training and the probation period of Deacons from The Ministries Committee, Law and Polity and the diaconal Convocation all of whom will report to the 2021 Conference.
Some frequently asked questions answered...
I’m a Deacon who feels called to preach, but feel the need for some specific training to prepare me. What is available and what should I do?
The Conference has declared that preaching is part of the ministry of all deacons. The Ministries Team are working with the Warden of the Order about specific training options. Information will be shared with all deacons by December 2020.
I am a Deacon who is currently training as a LP under the oversight of the LP Meeting and enjoying the study and formation in fellowship. Do I have to stop and give up being eventually recognised as a LP?
The Conference has clarified that the Office of a Local Preacher is a lay office. Therefore as an ordained minister you are part of the Preachers’ meeting by means of your ordination, however, you cannot be a Local Preacher.
I attended the preaching classes at Queens but didn’t participate to the full as I didn’t believe then it was part of my role as a Deacon. Now I feel I need a refresher – is it OK to join in with my local WLP Explore group as continuing development, and do I need a Note to Preach to join in?
From September 2020 The Conference recognises your calling to preach as a virtue of your ordination. The Church encourage life-long learning throughout ministry. You are welcome to join in the local Explore sessions or you can consult with the Warden of the Order as to what might be offered as bespoke training for deacons who are preaching regularly.
I’m a Deacon who has never felt preaching to be part of my call, but my circuit are now expecting me to take regular appointments as a preacher. What are my rights and responsibilities? Do I have to be part of the LP Meeting?
The Conference has confirmed that preaching (often in the form of proclaimation) is part of the ministry of deacons. Depending on the type of appointment you are in this may not mean regular preaching at traditional acts of worship but it does expect that you will proclaim the good news in words and action. You are expected to be a fully participating member of the Local Preachers’ Meeting as part of your leadership role in the circuit.
We have a Deacon who is listed on the Circuit Plan as a Deacon, and regularly leads midweek worship. Should he be listed as the preacher for these services on the plan?
Where Standing Orders say that a presbyter or LP should take charge of all public services, is it OK now for a Deacon to assume that role?
Yes – the Superintendent will need to consult with the Deacon first.
When a Deacon takes responsibility for leading a service when no LP or presbyter is available, should that service be listed as an LA, or is the Deacon then the preacher, even if s/he doesn’t preach?
The Deacon’s name should be published on the plan as the preacher leading the specific act of worship.
We have a Deacon joining us in September who is On Trial as a Local Preacher. Is it correct that Deacons are no longer listed with the local preachers, but are listed on the front of the plan with the presbyters?
From September 2020 all Deacons will be full members of the Local Preachers meeting and any On Trial Status will be removed (under the direction of The Conference). Those Deacons needing further training should wait for the information to be sent to them in the autumn of 2020 then consult with the Warden of the Diaconal Order.
Can our deacon preside at Holy Communion?
No. The Conference has affirmed that it is not appropriate for deacons to have an authorisation to preside at Holy Communion.
I have been a deacon for many years, I lead worship regularly but was never admitted as a local preacher – what should I do now?
The Conference has affirmed your call to preach. To discuss your ministerial development in preaching please speak to the Warden of the Diaconal Order or local colleagues.