Saturday, November 21, 2015, from 9:30am until 2:30pm was “Deacon’s Day” at the Synod Offices of the Diocese of New Westminster at 1410 Nanton Street. There are now more than forty vocational deacons in the diocese and Bishop Skelton’s goal is to have an ordained deacon in every parish in the diocese. The great turn-out for the November 7, Vocations Day two weeks earlier was very successful and indicated that there are folks that are listening to the call of ministry and perhaps the bishop’s vision for diaconal ministry may become a reality in the near future.
On November 21, twenty-two deacons of the diocese gathered along with Bishop Skelton and Director for Diaconal Formation, the Reverend Dr. Ellen Clark-King. Archdeacon for Deacons, the Venerable Bruce Morris had taken leadership in organizing the event but it was a collaborative effort with individual deacons given responsibility for various aspects of the day.
Things got underway with an introduction from the Venerable Bruce Morris who informed the group that the original 3:30pm end time was being changed to 2:30pm as he and the Reverend Stuart Isto both residents of the Sunshine Coast would need to board a ferry home to Sechelt and Powell River. He thanked the group for taking the time out from their schedules to attend the event. Next Bishop Skelton welcomed the deacons and also thanked them for their commitment and their devotion to ministry.
After moving the chairs into a circle, the day proceeded with Morning Prayer, led by the Reverend Helen Lingham of St. Andrew’s, Langley, a “Surprised by Joy” check-in with everybody in attendance sharing a recent bright moment in their ministry either in their parish or elsewhere followed the worship.
Two of the main reasons for gathering were to review the Deacon’s Handbook a 12 page original work that will provide an holistic profile of the Order of Deacons. Subjects covered include: A brief introduction about the Order of Deacons written by Bishop Skelton; The History and Nature of the Diaconate; Description and Stories of Ministry; How to Enter the Order; Best Practices and more. The second key agenda item was a presentation given by Bishop Skelton, titled, “What’s ahead for the Order of Deacons” involving a flipchart response discussion about the criteria for Holy Orders using the material from the November 7 Vocations day and some instruction on “watching for vocations.”
The Deacons Day was also a bit of a business meeting with some administration being accomplished regarding diocesan involvement in the international organizations: Diakonia Of The Americas and the Caribbean (DOTAC) the 14th DOTAC conference is being planned now and will take place in Vancouver in 2019 and Association for Episcopal Deacons (AED).
The day ended with Closing Prayers offered by the Reverend 2nd Lieutenant Gordon Barrett.