As I continue preparations for my consecration on November 4, I am getting a lot of questions about Diaconal Ministry. People receive my consecration announcements, and they inevitably have 2 questions:
- What's a Diaconal Minister?
- What's a Consecration?
So, I am off to "God's Country" for the next two weeks (My grandfather was from Minnesota, and he always swore it was "God's Country" - that and "The Land of the Sky Blue Waters"), and I thought it might be nice to answer those questions before I leave.
NOTE: This is not the "controversial" post I have been working on; it's just a little something to tide you over until I get a chance to write again.
First of all: If you are reading this post, then you are welcome to attend my consecration. So, before I tell you what a consecration is, let me officially invite you to one! Here is the invitation:
Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
You are cordially invited to the Rite of Consecration of
Rebecca Hanson Kolowé
to the Ministry of Word and Service as a Diaconal Minister in the
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
November 4, 2007 at 4:00 P.M.
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
1000 West Main Street, Lansdale, Pennsylvania 19446
(Corner of Routes 63 and 363)
Reception immediately following
Rostered leaders are invited to vest and process. The color of the day is white.
Please come! I hope to see you there!
Now, to answer those two questions! Here is an excerpt of an article that was originally published in Trinity's Lansdale Lutheran. It should answer all of your questions about Diaconal Ministry, consecrations, and perhaps some other things! I wrote it, and have made some changes here to better suit my blog.
Rebecca Kolowé, Trinity's Pastoral Assistant in charge of adult and young adult education, is about to become a consecrated Diaconal Minister.
What is Diaconal Ministry?
Diaconal Ministry is a ministry of Word and Service. One way to explain it is to compare the ministry of a Pastor with the ministry of a Diaconal Minister: Pastors are called to a ministry of Word and Sacrament. This means that Pastors preach the Word and administer the sacraments (Holy Communion and Baptism). Diaconal Ministers are called to a ministry of Word and Service. This means that Diaconal Ministers preach the Word and focus on serving others.
What is a Diaconal Minister?
A Diaconal Minister is someone who is consecrated (or “set apart”) by the church to perform ministries of Word and Service.
What is a consecration?
A consecration is a rite of the church in which Diaconal Ministers are set apart for their particular ministry. It is very similar to the way a pastor is ordained.
What do you mean by a ministry of service?
The church says that Diaconal Ministers are called into a ministry of service at the place where the church meets the world. This means that Diaconal Ministers are called to serve the poor, afflicted, unlovely, and anyone who lives at the fringes between church and world.
If your ministry is a ministry of service outside of the church, then what are you doing working in a congregation?
The official website of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) Diaconal Ministry community (Please visit the ELCA Diaconal Ministry Community online at www.elca.org/diaconalministry) states, “Diaconal Ministers work to seek wholeness in the world and to help the people of God to live out the Gospel… [Diaconal Ministers work towards] equipping others for healing and justice in the world.” One aspect of service to others equipping the people of God, the people in the church, to be in service to others.
What kinds of jobs do Diaconal Ministers do?
Diaconal Ministers serve in a lot of different areas. Some of them, like me, work in congregations, encouraging and equipping others to serve. Other Diaconal Ministers may work for social service organizations, as chaplains, in campus or youth ministry, as counselors or spiritual directors, or in other areas.
How do you get to be a Diaconal Minister?
Diaconal Ministers must attend an ELCA seminary and complete the required degrees and requirements. Candidates for Diaconal Ministry also undergo a candidacy and call process before they are consecrated to service.
What is the difference between a deacon and a Diaconal Minister?
Diakonia is a Greek word taken out of the New Testament that means “service.” A deacon, therefore is a servant. Diaconal Ministers and deacons are both servants and are both the same thing. “Diaconal Minister” is the term that the ELCA has decided to use to designate its deacons.
As a Christian, I help serve others, too. What's the difference between me and a Diaconal Minister?
In many ways, we are ALL called to be deacons, and all of the various ways we minister to each other are important. All Christians should be in service to others. Jesus called us all to be deacons when he said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). The difference between an ELCA Diaconal Minister and other lay people is that a Diaconal Minister has attended seminary, has gone through the church-wide call process, and has been consecrated (“set aside”) by God and the church to a specific ministry. It is similar to the way a Pastor is educated, called, and ordained to a specific ministry.
Aren’t you a deaconess?
I am not a deaconess. In the ELCA, deaconesses are women who are a part of a deaconess community. Although our call to service is very similar, only women who are a part of the deaconess community are to be called deaconesses. I am a Diaconal Minister, and you may call me a deacon.
Why have I never heard about Diaconal Ministers before?
Deacons have existed in the wider church for hundreds of years. However, the term “Diaconal Minister” and its recognition as a consecrated ministry of the ELCA only became official in 1993.
Why haven’t you told us earlier about you being a Diaconal Minister?
I am actually not a Diaconal Minister yet. I graduated from seminary in 2004, but was still working to complete the candidacy and call process when I began working at Trinity. I finished those final requirements in April. I will officially become a Diaconal Minister on November 4, 2007, when Bishop Burkat consecrates me as a Diaconal Minister. That service will be here at Trinity, and I would love for you to come and be a part of that special day!