Exploring the Ordained Ministry of Distinctive Deacons

Our Distinctive Deacons add to the richness of ministry in the Diocese by their concern for those on the margins of Church and Society, and in reminding us of the one who came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  The Rt Revd Nick McKinnel, Bishop of Plymouth

What is a distinctive deacon?
The Church of England recognises three orders of ordained ministry: bishop, priest and deacon. Those called to priesthood spend an initial period of time in ordained ministry as deacons before becoming priests. Others are called most strongly to remain in the diaconate as deacons. The diaconate exists as a ministry in its own right throughout the Church of England, often called the ‘distinctive’ diaconate.    The photo above shows Phil Wales, on the left, being ordained by the Bishop of Exeter as a Distinctive Deacon.  Distinctive Deacons in Exeter belong to the College of St Philip the Deacon. For an introduction to the College of St Philip the Deacon please click here.

What does a distinctive deacon do? 

Distinctive deacons have a strong call to an outward-looking, community-minded ministry with the hallmark of mission through service. They prefer to be out and about, making contacts, building relationships, identifying and meeting needs, creating stepping-stones between God and the world. Deacons are pioneers, radical in their outlook and ready to try new ways of serving God in the community. They often have a particular concern for issues of poverty and justice and many minister to those on the margins of church and society.

Distinctive deacons serve under the bishop’s authority, usually alongside their parish priest with whom they minister as an ‘ambassador for Christ’. They proclaim the gospel as Christ’s heralds in their life and work, encouraging congregations to share the good news of God’s love with the community. Deacons have a recognised role in church services which reflects the hallmarks of their ministry, such as reading the Gospel, encouraging intercessory prayer and sending the congregation out at the end of the service to play their part in God’s mission.

A distinctive deacon is at present a self-supporting minister, and many deacons continue in secular employment, their vocation deeply influencing the way they do their job and develop their ministry. Their diaconate encourages all baptised Christians to glorify God by reaching out to others.

Who do I contact to find out more about becoming a distinctive deacon?
If you would like to explore this vocation further, please contact Rev Hannah Mears , Vocations Development Officer.  Deacons undertake the same selection process and training as those preparing for any type of ordained ministry. Please see Exploring Ordained Ministry page for more details.

Distinctive Deacons Toolkit

Please also see our Deacon Vocation leaflet and Tool Kit. The Tool Kit is a resource for distinctive deacons with contributions from deacon practitioners, focusing on practical aspects of diaconal ministry.  New tools are added from time to time.

Deacon’s Tool Kit

In the video below Andy Farmer talks about why he is called to be a distinctive deacon and not a priest.

College of Deacons

Warden of Deacons:  Rev Deacon Gill Kimber
Diocese of Exeter, 10A Belle Vue Court, Belle Vue Rd, Paignton, Devon TQ4  6ER. Please see email address below.

Rev Deacon David Rogers (PTO)
16 Quay Road, Newton Abbot, TQ12 2BU
mob:  07815 060197

Rev Deacon Lynne Chitty (PTO) Member of Mill House Retreats Community
Mill House Retreats Devon, EX16 7ES Tel: 01884 829000

Rev Deacon Beverley Cree
Assistant Curate in the Benefice of Plymouth Emmanuel, Saint Paul Efford, and Saint Augustine/Plymouth Emmanuel Mission Community

Rev Deacon Phil Wales
Senior Learning and Development Adviser, Care Quality Commission and Distinctive Deacon, Exeter Cathedral

Rev Deacon Rita Bullworthy
Sampford Courtenay, Whiddon Mission Community

Rev Deacon Christopher Whinney
Charles Brayford, North Molton with Twitchen

The Deacons listed above are included in the Diocesan Directory. Please search for contact details here.

If you would like an informal chat about being a deacon, email Rev Deacon Gill Kimber.  See also the Deacon blog.

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