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On Communion

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Jay Croft

Ann, I was made a deacon at in June 1969, and in September the vicar of St. Ann's Church for the Deaf became rector of our host parish, All Angels in Manhattan.

At the last service before Fr. Whiting literally "moved upstairs," Bishop Wetmore announced that I would be in charge. (I was notified of this a few minutes before the service began.) He gave express permission for this arrangement. I was ordained a priest in early December of that year.

As there are not many Episcopal clergy who use sign language, this was the most practical arrangement and worked out well for everyone.

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David Allen

I agree with Ann. Regardless of how great your experience, it wasn't a deacon's role you were plunged into without warning. In truth, the diaconate shouldn't be a stepping stone to being a priest. The bishop, deacon, laity relationship should be very different from the bishop, priest, laity relationship. Both a deacon's and a priest's faculties devolve from the bishop, but are different. A deacon isn't a mini-priest, "Gee, Mom I'm almost there." A priest isn't a deacon + a priest. They each stand alone as an extension of the bishop in different realms and responsibilities.

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David Allen

Paul, no one here said that you weren't "still a deacon." We have made a case that serving as a deacon/mini-priest, as a stepping stone to being a priest, is not actually having served a diaconate.

There hasn't been anything humble in the comments that you've made here. They have been quite haughty, "thank you very much."

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Paul Kean

Dear David, I was simply sharing my own experience of the priesthood and the diaconate. Believe me, I went to seminary and am well aware of the history and development of the offices of both priest and deacon. There is room for disagreement about this issue and I for one try to have a little humility about my opinions around this issue. I know being a deacon is NOT being a "mini priest" but I beg to differ regarding my ordination to the priesthood and diaconate. I am still a deacon thank you very much.

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David Allen

But only because today we view the three offices as a stepping stone process; deacon to priest to bishop, as if one is acquiring more authority and somehow qualifying for the next office.
In fact it is the other way around. The true catholic view is that any member of the church could be lifted to either of the offices without having been one of the others first. The church is the people gathered with their bishop. Full stop. The bishop is the complete ordination with all Apostolic keys.
Only the bishop may ordain deacons. Only the bishop may ordain priests. Only bishops may ordain other bishops. The bishop then shares the bishop's faculties from ordination through specific, limited ordinations with deacons on one hand and priests on the other.

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Jay Croft

A priest is still a deacon and can function as such. A bishop is still a priest and a deacon and can function in those roles.

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Marshall Scott

Actually, David, I am of a different opinion. I have long held the opinion (publically, but no one else has found this compelling) that the period of the diaconate before ordination to the presbyterate be maintained; and that it be at least two years with the requirement that the ministry in those two years be primarily service oriented. I was a deacon-in-training, understanding that I was more "junior priest." On the other hand, I spent the year after seminary in clinical pastoral education, and chaplaincy is certainly an appropriate role for a deacon. So, to affirm the diaconate I think we need anyone who will be a priest to spend significant time looking at service first.

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Paul Kean

ay,
I too served as deacon-in-charge of a parish before being ordained to the priesthood and it was a wonderful experience. I was very aware (and still am) of what it means to be a deacon. While I am sure it was said with the best of intentions, I think it might be just a bit presumptuous for someone else to tell you (or me) that our experience as deacon was not quite authentic.

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Jay Croft

As a Deaf person I appreciated very much the captioning of this video.

Presiding Bishop Curry has made two videos in his half a month as PB, and they aren't captioned.

Ten percent of the American population has some form of hearing loss; several General Conventions have requested that materials out of 815 be captioned, and still nothing has been done.

The live-streaming of the PB installation on Nov. 1 was supposed to be captioned, but it was a horrible botched-up job, probably using voice-to-text technology. Fortunately, we were able to secure seating at the service itself and had two excellent sign language interpreters.

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Ann Fontaine

It would be good if you would write to Michael Barlowe at the General Convention office and others at 815 about your need and how it can be met. Café staff, though concerned, do not have the power to change things. They did have the Installation in Spanish using a translator.

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Jay Croft

Wonderful. But why did he mention laity, priests and bishops, but not deacons?

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Bingham Powell

As an long-term advocate of the revitalization of the diaconate who introduced the diaconate in the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, I don't think it was intentional on Bishop Powell's part. My guess was a simple oversight, but I will try and check with him.

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Kurt Hill

Philip is quite correct. Deacons have always had the responsibility of bringing the Sacrament to the sick and shut-in. In America before the Oxford Movement, it's likely that many High Church parishes reserved the Blessed Sacrament in an ambry in the sacristy or elsewhere away from public view. Where deacons or other curates were not available, lay readers or parish sextons sometimes brought the Blessed Sacrament to the sick and disabled/elderly.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

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Philip Snyder

Our Bishop requires prior authorization to perform a Distribution from the Reserve Sacrament. (The title "Deacon's Mass" is not used because we are not saying "Mass.")

But this is becoming more and more rare in our diocese (Dallas). The one exception is when a priest has only a Deacon as an assistant and turns up sick on Sunday Morning - with no time to secure a supply priest and asks the Deacon to distribute from the Reserve Sacrament. Even then, the Deacon must inform the Bishop that this was done. There is a special form that Deacons use when doing this.

Deacons are not "Junior Priests" but early Deacons did take consecrated bread and wine out to groups that could not be present for the Bishop to celebrate. This was early in the history of the Church, before Nicea and before the role of presbyter became normal for leading congregations.

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Kurt Hill

Well, Ann, I would rather have a "Deacon's Mass" than Morning Prayer on a Sunday morning any week of the year...Public or private recitation of the Daily Offices during the weekdays is fine, but in Sundays I want something stronger...

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

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Paul Kean

Jay,
I too served as deacon-in-charge of a parish before being ordained to the priesthood and it was a wonderful experience. I was very aware (and still am) of what it means to be a deacon. While I am sure it was said with the best of intentions, I think it might be just a bit presumptuous for someone else to tell you (or me) that our experience as deacon was not quite authentic.

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Jay Croft

Thanks. It's easy to overlook this vital ministry.

I was a deacon only six months before becoming a priest, but it was a vital period in my ministry.

I was given charge of the congregation as a deacon, as it was permitted for mission churches. My predecessor consecrated a large amount of bread and wine so that the congregation could be "fed."

The consecrated elements were used in those six months, and they ran out the Sunday before I was ordained to the priesthood!

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Ann Fontaine

Most bishops do not permit Deacon's masses from reserve sacrament- it perverts the ministry of deacon - which is not to be a mini-priest but to be out in the world bringing the world's need to the church and the church to the world. I am glad it was great for you Jay - but you were not being a deacon -- just not quite priest.

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