The deacon story in the Church of the Brethren is mixed, according to a report from the Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC). Some Brethren members and congregations regard the deacon ministry as a cherished tradition of caring for the poor, the elderly, and the orphans. Others hold on to memories from the past, of deacons as "enforcers" of rigid behavior codes, such as counseling members on appropriate dress, hair style, and prayer coverings for women.
"However the office of deacon is remembered, it is an office nearly as old as the denomination," reminds ABC executive director Kathy Reid. "Most importantly, wherever there was an expressed human need, deacons assumed responsibility to address those needs. Thus in this 300th anniversary celebration year, it is timely to review the legacy and character of deacons in our denomination as we enter another century of opportunities to serve and to care."
ABC is planning a series of regional Deacon Ministry Training Events for the Spring of 2008. Each event will feature Bible study, keynote presentations, multiple workshops, and worship. The keynote speaker will be Jay Gibble, former director of the Association of Brethren Caregivers. Workshops will address issues such as deacon roles and functions, recruitment of new deacons, outreach to all, and the love feast. Cost is $20 per person, and lunch will be provided. Registration materials are available at www.brethren-caregivers.org or call ABC at 800-323-8039.
Following is the schedule of Deacon Ministry Training Events:
- Plains region: April 12, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at Dallas Center (Iowa) Church of the Brethren, co-sponsored by Spurgeon Manor, a Church of the Brethren retirement center
- Southwest: April 19, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at Modesto (Calif.) Church of the Brethren
- Northwest: May 10, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at Olympia, Lacey (Wash.) Community Church of the Brethren; and May 11, 1-6 p.m., at Wenatchee (Wash.) Brethren-Baptist Church
- East: May 31, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren.