And the twelve called together the whole community of disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables.’” Acts 6:2 (NRSV)
Now the early Church was growing … disciples were increasing in number. Along with growth, there are also growing pains. One of the growing pains was that the twelve disciples were so busy proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, that they had little or no time for extending compassion, particularly to distributing food to the widows and others in need. The twelve were keenly aware of the importance of doing the Word as well as proclaiming the Word of God. What could be done to lessen the demands on the twelve and to provide still for those in distress? The twelve called the entire community of disciples together. They urged them to “select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” The community of disciples was pleased with this decision.
They chose Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolaus. These men stood before the apostles, who laid their hands on them, prayed for them and thus commissioned them for this particular ministry of compassion and service. The seven men would handle the daily distribution of food while the twelve continued to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Times have changed and no longer are only men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, chosen from the members of the community of faith to serve as deacons. Each year our church’s Nominating Committee presents a slate of five women and men as nominees for the office of Deacon that are representative of young adults, adults and older adults. Once persons are elected to this office, they then go through Officer Training to prepare them for their service. The ages old tradition of the laying on of hands (now by elders) and of prayer, to set aside these persons for this office, occurs at the Service of Ordination and Installation in January each year. Our church’s Diaconate is comprised of fifteen deacons who serve three year terms; therefore, we have a Class of 2016, 2017 and 2018. The deacons who will be elected at the Congregational Meeting on May 1, 2016, will be the Class of 2019.
The deacons oversee our “Feeding the Hungry” Ministry, which includes our Bag Lunch Ministry and our Saturday Soup Kitchen. In the past the Deacons have been involved in Habitat for Humanity builds. With monies from our budget designated for local benevolences we support Anchor House Ministries, Angel Care Center, Boy Scouts, Family Emergency Services, Girls, Inc., Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, the Mission, and the Polk Training Center. The Deacons transport donations to Family Emergency Services and to Angels Care Center, drive the Angel Van and deliver bread to First Time Visitors, too. Our deacons today, like those first ones so long ago, are involved in ministries of compassion and service.
Our Deacons are Karen Alexander, Bill Allen, Judy Denlinger, Jay Dugger, Erin Emry, Janet Howard, Greg Marrs, Joe McKee, Laura Powell, Nancy Shaw, Ed Smith, Debbie Sowards, Nell Speer, Heather Whitney and Dave Zwicker.
Lord of the Church, we thank You for deacons and for the important role they fill in ministries of compassion and service. We ask Your blessing upon those deacons who are currently serving and those who will soon be elected and begin training. Help each one of us in our daily walk of faith to show the love and compassion of Jesus Christ to others. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.