In the Church of England’s Ordinal, Deacons are ordained “so that the people of God may be better equipped to make Christ known. Theirs is a life of visible self-giving. Christ is the pattern of their calling and their commission; as he washed the feet of his disciples, so they must wash the feet of others”. Deacons may teach, preach, baptise and lead the church community in prayer. They may have a particular care for the vulnerable and marginalised. Although, for all embarking on priestly ministry, the diaconate is transitional, the distinctiveness of the diaconate should not be lost, and there is a genuine validity in this ministry of service and proclaiming the Gospel being a particular vocation – not least as being a ministry that has its roots firmly in the earliest churches of the New Testament.
Some people feel called accordingly to remain as Deacons (thus called 'distinctive' deacons) who have a particular calling to be a bridge between the wider community and the Church, to a ministry of teaching, to a life of service directed towards the vulnerable and to bring their needs to the wider attention of the Church, not least through prayer.
How do I become a Deacon?
The discernment of whether you might have a calling to be a Deacon is much the same as for those who feel called to the Priesthood. After a period of careful discernment with the Diocesan Vocations Team and Director of Ordinands, you are invited to meet with a Sponsoring Bishop who will decide whether to send you to a Bishops' Advisory Panel (BAP): a three-day residential to discern whether this is your calling and to make a recommendation to the Sponsoring Bishop. Given the significant teaching ministry of Deacons, you would be expected to undertake a similar training pathway to those preparing for the Priesthood. Candidates should be aware that the Diocese of Chichester does not offer stipendiary posts for Distinctive Deacons.
Rosalind Brown, Being a Deacon Today: Exploring a Distinctive Ministry in the Church and in the World (Morehouse, 2005)