Lunch & Learn: Work of SC Synod & Discussion of Making Ordination the Entrance Rite for Deacons

By Joyce Rose-Harris

During lunch on Friday, May 31, the work of deacons in the SC Synod was highlighted via a video of those serving in the role. Deacons are teachers and servers of God responsible for broader engagement within the church. They are the leaders sent out into the neighborhood to serve. A number of deacons spoke on their roles within their congregations. When working together we can bring God’s grace and love to our communities.

People of God are set apart by various forms, laying of hands or saying of prayers. Ordination shouldn’t set people apart from others, but be used for ministry. Other denominations ordain their deacons. Pastors and deacons have complementary but different ministries. Pastors are ministers of Word and Sacrament; and deacons are ministers of Word and Service.

Rev. Dr. M. Wyvetta Bullock, Assistant to the Presiding Bishop, Executive for Administration and Dr. Susan McArver of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary presented the summary of the recommendations for entrance of rites for deacons determined by the Entrance Rite Discernment Group (ERDG).

The recommendations are:
1. The ERDG recommends the use of ordination as the rite of setting apart both ministers of Word and Sacrament and ministers of Word and Service.
2. The ERDG recommends that the entrance rite for ministers of Word and Service include the presentation of both a deacon’s stole and a cross.
3. The ERDG recommends that, for all purposes related to the implementation of the “representational principles” of this church, neither ministers of Word and Sacrament nor Word and Service be included in the category of “laypersons.”

In summation, it was stated that clergy doesn’t have any greater place in the Church than anyone else. People are set apart by various forms such as laying of hands or saying of prayers. Ordination is not intended to set people apart from others but for the purpose of ministry. Deacons would be considered rostered ministers of the church.

There were numerous questions concerning the recommended process. Ultimately the goal is to lift up the work of the deacons. However, there will be an impact to future distribution of laypersons and ministers during assemblies.

This is Christ’s Church. There is a place for you here.

We are the church that shares a living, daring confidence in God’s grace. Liberated by our faith, we embrace you as a whole person–questions, complexities and all. Join us as we do God’s work in Christ’s name for the life of the world.

Contact Information

ELCA South Carolina Synod
1003 Richland Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Telephone 803-765-0590
Fax 803-252-5558

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