To Awaken the Deacon in us All

Weekly Reflection, Friday, June 25

By: Harrison Higgins with intro from David May

As I hope you know, the Rev. Deacon Harrison Higgins is joining in the ministry of St. Mary’s Church this summer as Deacon Associate working part-time. Harrison will begin ministry with us on July 1 and his first Sunday for worship will be July 4. Harrison is a Vocational Deacon, which means his calling is to serve as a Deacon and does not include ordination to the priesthood. Ordination as a Deacon is complete in itself and is one of the orders of the ministry of the Church, the others being: Laity, Bishops, and Priests. The primary focus of the ministry of a Deacon of the Church is “to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as a servant of those in need….” (Book of Common Prayer, page 856); therefore, a Deacon of the Church is to bring the concerns of the world to the church.

As we prepare to welcome Harrison, here is a reflection on his own ministry as a Vocational Deacon:

“I was asked to write something about the vocational diaconate, a subject about which I still have more questions than answers. Here is what I’ve got so far. Deacons are servants; it is a servant ministry, vocation, and calling. Priests are first ordained as deacons but when they later become priests they do not stop being deacons. With the vocational diaconate we feel called to this ministry only. During my two years of training and study, our mission was described as ‘connecting the church to the world and the world to the church.’ Apart from our liturgical role as described in the Prayer Book, this was as specific as it got.

In practice, what we do seems to be particular to the church where we serve and, I suppose, to the deacon. What needs doing? How can I help? These are the questions I will be asking and praying as I become part of the St Mary’s Church family. At Church of the Epiphany where I first served, I started a men’s group, appropriately called Chapter 11. At St James’-the-Less, it was a grief group and briefly a group to pray for the country. And there was also a Foolishness Committee. Every church needs one.

If deacons are basically called to serve with a goal of making a difference in the world, isn’t that what all Christians are called to do? My own understanding of being ordained as a deacon is to awaken the deacon in us all. There is absolutely nothing in me, no spiritual anything, that does not also exist in each one of us. Seeing these gifts come to life is what it is all about for me.

But then there is this: the origin of the word deacon may mean ‘dusty one.’ As someone who has spent half my life covered in saw dust, I may have special gift in this category.”