Church of the Brethren Newsline
June 7, 2010
“I suppose it’s time to have deacon training in our district again–it’s been a few years. Is that something you can help us with?” Those words, or variations on them, have been repeated numerous times in these first months of 2010, resulting in more than 300 deacons and other church leaders participating in training sessions in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois.
And that’s just through May.
The trainings are offered by the Church of the Brethren’s Deacon Ministry. “Our deacons need to know why they exist,” one pastor commented when asked about issues that should be covered during training. “They exist in name, but not in function. [Some] feel that it is an old idea whose time has passed.”
Another common sentiment reflects the trend for deacons to be the older adults in many congregations: “I am concerned about care and pastoring of the older deacons, as well as how to initiate younger men and women into the fold…. Like many other churches [in our district] our future will be bleak unless we can attract more young families.”
District executives often see things from a different perspective: “Some of our pastors are not always willing to pass on work…that deacons could be doing. Sometimes it is ego; sometimes they may think the deacon is not capable…. They should be educating their deacons for some of those tasks.”
The needs expressed for deacon training are many, and the workshop topics are just as varied. The most popular workshop, generally offered as a plenary session but with significant participant involvement, is called “What Are Deacons Supposed to Do, Anyway?” based on the four functions of deacons as set out in the 1997 Annual Conference statement on the role of deacons in the Church of the Brethren.
Other often requested topics are listening skills, conflict resolution, the pastoral care team, and providing support in times of grief and loss. Consultation on topics such as the calling of deacons is also available.
So far six training sessions are scheduled for the fall, to be held in a variety of locations from California to Pennsylvania. In addition, the Deacon Ministry is offering for the first time ever a pre-conference deacon training event on Saturday, July 3, in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Find more information about deacon workshops, the fall schedule for deacon training, or register for the pre-Annual Conference training events. For more information contact Donna Kline, director of the Deacon Ministry, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-323-8039.
— Donna Kline is director of the Church of the Brethren’s Deacon Ministry.
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