Home Up Act of Synod Interpreting Authority Episkope 1 Episkope 2 Diaconate Reception

Centre for the Study of the Christian Church

& St George's House, Windsor Castle


St George’s House, Windsor Castle, 2-4 April 2002


Thirty participants from a range of Christian traditions and from churches in Britain and Ireland, the continent of Europe and North America recently took part in a Consultation at St George’s House, Windsor Castle, on the theme of a renewed diaconate. Participants were sponsored by their churches or diaconal orders.


The Consultation was held under the auspices of the Centre for the Study of the Christian Church which promotes the scholarly study of the mission, ministry and unity of the Church.


The Consultation was called to enable the members of the Church of England House of Bishops working party on the renewed diaconate to engage in dialogue with Anglican and ecumenical partners on the emerging conclusions of their work and to learn from the experience and insights of others with regard to the diaconate.


The argument of the House of Bishops draft report was presented by several members of the working party: the Right Revd Barry Rogerson (Bishop of Bristol and Chairman of the working party), the Very Revd Stephen Platten (Dean of Norwich), the Revd Canon Professor Robert Hannaford, the Revd Dr Paul McPartlan (Roman Catholic representative) and the Revd Prebendary Dr Paul Avis (Executive Officer of the working party and Director of the Centre for the Study of the Christian Church).


Sessions were chaired by the Revd Canon Susanne Watson (ECUSA; President, North American Association for the Diaconate), the Revd Deacon Ninni Smedburg (Church of Sweden) and Deacon Christine Walters (Methodist Church of Great Britain; former Convener of the Methodist Diaconal Order), as well as by Bishop Rogerson and Prebendary Avis. (The full list of participants is attached.)


Although there is a range of views among the churches with regard to the diaconate (some emphasising the pastoral and social role, others the liturgical; some having a lay, others an ordained diaconate), there was a sense of common direction among the participants. It was agreed that the time was ripe for reconsideration of the diaconate in the light of fresh biblical interpretation, the demands of mission, and recent ecumenical convergence.


The working party was encouraged in the direction that its work was taking. It wished to see the diaconate taken more seriously in both its transitional and distinctive forms. It envisaged a renewed diaconate for the Church of England in continuity with the classical and current ordinals and with the Canons. A distinctive diaconate, as an ongoing ordained ministry of word, sacrament and pastoral care (though not of oversight or eucharistic presidency), already exists in the Church of England. The biblical image of diakonia as a bridging, go-between role could strengthen the link between worship and mission, between the offering of the needs of the world to God in the liturgy and effective outreach to those in need. A renewed diaconate in this sense could play a significant part alongside other authorised lay and ordained ministries in the mission of the Church today.


The working party would shortly be offering its draft report to the House of Bishops. It was hoped that it would be published in early Autumn 2001 before being debated by the General Synod in November 2001.


The Revd Prebendary Dr Paul Avis (Director, Centre for the Study of the Christian Church)


The Revd Canon Laurence Gunner (Directing Staff, St George’s House)

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