Dear Friends in Christ:
There is a sense of hope and renewal in the Episcopal Church with the installation of the new presiding bishop, Michael Curry. His use of the term “Jesus movement” to describe the church is capturing the imagination of many. In recent conversations with the Diocesan Council, Commission on Ministry, and diocesan clergy, there is a growing consensus that a key to the success of the “Jesus movement” in the Diocese of North Dakota is the ministry of deacons.
Deacons, sometimes referred to collectively as “the diaconate,” are one of the three orders of ordained ministry in the Church, along with bishops and priests or presbyters. Writing in the year 110 A.D., Ignatius of Antioch mentions all three: “Take care to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God, and with the presbyters in the place of the council of the apostles, and with the deacons, who are most dear to me, entrusted with the business of Jesus Christ” (Letter to the Magnesians 6:1).
The Catechism of the Book of Common Prayer teaches: “The ministry of a deacon is to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as a servant of those in need; and to assist bishops and priests in the proclamation of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments” (BCP 856).
The three three-month long courses will be facilitated in regions across the Diocese: Mark Strobel — Red River Valley; Christian Senyoni – East Central; Zanne Ness & John Floberg – South Central; Mary Johnson – North Central; Ellery Dykeman – Southwest; Michael Paul – Northwest. Specifics about where and how often study groups meet will be determined by the facilitator and students of a region, based on their circumstances.
Seven of the nine months of the school year will require attendance at weekend sessions at Assumption Abbey in Richardton. We will take off the month of Holy Week and Easter, but attendance at the annual Diocesan Convention in October in Bismarck is expected. See the listings below for specific dates.
Costs per course, including books and Richardton weekends, are $200. However, scholarships are available and lack of financial resources should not keep anyone from participating.
The Commission on Ministry application for the Diaconate can be found here, and is required for those who are formally entering the ordination process.
+Michael G. Smith