Who are Deacons & What Do They Do?

As the Book of Order puts it, “The office of deacon as set forth in Scripture is one of sympathy, witness, and service after the example of Jesus Christ. Persons of spiritual character, honest repute, of exemplary lives, brotherly and sisterly love, warm sympathies, and sound judgment should be chosen for this office” (G-6.0401).  It is a ministry of caring; a ministry of love; a ministry of compassion; and a ministry of prayer, and community service (G-6.0402).

Deacons’ hearts go out to those in distress, to members who have suffered loss, to neighbors in the hospital, to prisoners, to friends who have lost their jobs, to new parents who are confused by a wonderful, sudden, and challenging change in the responsibilities of life, to new members who need a word of welcome, to members who are shut-in and lonely and cannot leave their homes, to people in the community who have lost their way and can no longer find God, to those who are economically oppressed and do not have adequate places to live or enough to eat, to any people who need to experience the love of Christ in concrete ways.

Clearly, deacons are not the only Presbyterians who provide these ministries of sympathy and caring.  All Christians are charged to love their neighbors and care for one another. But the deacons provide an organized way of bringing the love of Jesus Christ to the church and the community.  Deacons, by assisting the pastor(s) in pastoral care, by working closely with the session to bring justice to the village, town, or city in which they are located, by taking seriously the admonition to love one another from the heart (1 Peter 1:22), fulfill the command of Jesus to love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12) in ways for the whole world to experience and see.

-From "The Presbyterian Deacon" in The Presbyterian Outlook BY EARL S. JOHNSON JR. PUBLISHED: AUGUST 31, 2008 |UPDATED: DECEMBER 1, 2022