ATLANTA – Bishop Rob Wright will ordain five new deacons in an unusual service at The Cathedral of St. Philip.
Archdeacon Carole Maddux said the October 8th service is unusual because those being ordained have chosen to remain deacons. Most deacon ordinations are of priests who must serve as deacons before becoming priests.
The new deacons are Florence Mitchell, sponsored by the Church of the Incarnation; Julie O’Neill, sponsored by St. Joseph’s; Jess Speaker, transferred from the Diocese of Virginia; Devon Smyth, sponsored by St. Peter’s; and Faustina Ward-Osborne, sponsored by St. Michael’s and All Angels.
“It’s a great group of people who have been diligent in preparing, especially considering that some of them started this process pre-COVID, and just stuck with it, continued to do the work, I’m just really proud of all of them,” Maddux said.
“All of them have just great, great history and experience and knowledge of working with the marginalized and working to bring the good news of Jesus,” she said. So, “I’m looking forward to them becoming a part of our clergy and helping to lead The Diocese of Atlanta into greater deaconal service.”
Deacons and bishops were the initial leaders of Christian churches, but with the creation of priests, the role of deacons was diminished until the last half of the twentieth century when both Catholic and Episcopal traditions reasserted the historical importance of the deaconate.
In the Diocese of Atlanta, Bishop Frank Allen began increasing the role of deacons, work that Bishop Neil Alexander took to its current form.
The Diocese of Atlanta Guidelines for Deacons states the deacon’s primary responsibilities and their relationship with the bishop.
“The first work of the deaconate is to help the church know the state and condition of our most vulnerable neighbors. In this role, deacons become a living icon of Christ, the servant, within the church.
“The deacon is directly accountable to the bishop and is at all times subject to the pastoral direction and supervision of the bishop.
“A deacon’s principal ministry is in the world and deacons are expected to have a significant ministry to the poor and marginalized outside of the parish.
The five new deacons will join 16 others in the Diocese of Atlanta. Maddux said she and Archdeacons Juan Sandoval and Janet Tidwell want to add more deacons.
“We’re going to be actively working to help define those people who are called to the deaconate and help to support them, to grow our numbers,” she said. “Because frankly, I don’t think it’s healthy for a diocese to have their orders that far out of whack.”
There are currently117 worshiping communities in the diocese and some 200 active priests.
To learn about what it takes to be a deacon, go to the Association for Episcopal Deacons, or contact Archdeacon Maddux at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All are invited to attend the ordination:
Saturday, October 8 – 2:00 – 3:30pm
The Cathedral of St. Philip
2744 Peachtree Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30305, USA