I went to Exploration 2003 when I was a senior in high school. I don’t know why I felt called to go as I look back now, but I went. I remember enjoying the trip out to Chicago with my friends, but being disappointed with the event.

You see, when they gave us the option to take a pic in the cardboard cutout clergy, I chose the Deacon, not the Elder. When I went to Exploration, I came home a little discouraged since Deacons weren’t really mentioned and it just focused on Elders.

I feel called to ordination through The United Methodist Church as a Deacon, so I find them very important. Deacons are the people who bridge the church to the real world, stepping out into ministries beyond our church doors. They are a rarely used source of wisdom within our churches, though they are so vital. Deacons may not have the “magic hands”, but they walk outside of the church building, connecting with those who do not enter our doors.

Deacons can be school teachers, run homeless ministries, be pastoral counselors, work for a general board or agency, and so much more! They can be in a church or outside it. Their work is their unique ministry.

One of the resolutions going to General Conference is, “Appointments of Deacons and Provisional Deacons to Various Ministries”. This would change Paragraph 331 in our Book of Disciple. Why would this matter?

This resolution gets rid of Secondary Appointments for Deacons. Well, what is a Secondary Appointment you might ask? When a Deacon’s Ministry is outside the church (as majority of them are), it gives them another appointment with a local church. They participate in worship (if being utilized), leadership within the church, and are supported by the church’s SPRC. I believe that this is taking away the bridge between the Deacon’s Ministry and the church.

Even though my current ministry settings have been within the church , I know that I will someday have a job outside of the church. I want to have a bond between myself and my charge conference. Secondary Appointments give Deacons that connection. Why would we get rid of that?

Photo Credit: Flickr user F H Mira, Creative Commons.


  1. I would agree with you, seems kinda like a lame change to me. But, somehow, typical for when some of the Elders lose sight of what the ministry is really about and how it is for and why it is important to have the connections. But maybe it’s just me. 🙂

  2. My understanding is that the legislation was to prevent deacons with outside appointments from being taken advantage of financially by their second appointment to a local church, because the local church would know they are already being paid by the outside appointment.

    In my opinion there are much better ways of resolving that problem, if it is a problem.

    I agree and almost everyone I know agrees that the elimination of the second appointment to the local church severs the connection for a Deacon and it really doesn’t make sense.

    For reference, I am a candidate for Deacon in the EPA conference.

    Thank you for your post! 🙂

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  3. From what I can see, this petition passed but they amended it to keep the secondary appointment–is that correct?

    I think the troubling language is here:

    “When deacons in full connection serve in an agency or setting beyond the local church, the bishop, after consultation with the deacon and the pastor in charge, shall appoint the deacon to a local congregation where they will take missional responsibility for leading other Christians into ministries of service. ”

    Some churches may disagree about what this means. Most deacons in the PNW (at least as far as I’m aware) believe that our role in the secondary appointment is primarily a liturgical role, and anything beyond that must be negotiated. But, if “missional responsibility for leading other Christians into ministries of service” is interpreted as meaning work beyond liturgical leadership, then deacons are required, by the Discipline, to provide professional work for free. This is unjust and should not be the case.

    Like I said, in the PNW, this is not the general expectation–although my experience has been that it has been largely up to deacons to communicate this, often with significant pushback and conflict from pastors/SPRC’s. It puts the burden on the individual deacon to set reasonable boundaries on what they are and are not able/willing to do for free.

    I am all for the secondary appointment, but I would like the BoD to be more clear about what exactly it entails. If I was fully aware from the beginning of my candidacy that it entails the requirement of unpaid professional work beyond liturgical leadership, I may never have pursued ordination as a deacon in the first place. Now, I’m not clear that it does require that, but I can see how some might interpret that it does. So I’d like more specific language that would make it more clear and prevent the exploitation of free labor by local churches.

    I don’t think it happens often, but I’ve heard multiple stories of deacons who have been exploited. What happens more often is deacons having to work hard to continually educate and re-educate their churches about what the expectations are, and it would be nice if the Discipline was more clear to help us out!

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