Let the bishop preside in the place of God, the presbyters in the place of the apostolic council, and let the deacons (who are most dear to me) be entrusted with the ministry of Jesus Christ.
– S Ignatius of Antioch, The Epistle to the Magnesians, 6.
It has been an immense privilege to serve the Church of God, and the people of St Augustine’s Rumney, since my ordination to the diaconate last Petertide. Deacons are called to ‘be signs among the people of God that the Church is called to serve Christ in the world.’ They are, in a very real sense, called to be licensed ‘lay persons’, as they are entrusted, with all of God’s people, with the ministry of Jesus Christ.
James Barnett suggests that the diaconate should be ‘the order that informs all orders of the primary work we are all sent to do’. As I look ahead, and prepare to be ordained priest, I am challenged to first look back, to remember and to cherish my ministry as a deacon — for it is this ministry, which will underpin my priestly ministry.
This past year, I have had the wonderful opportunity to stand alongside people in moments of joy, and sorrow, in times of celebration, and mourning. I have been encouraged by the witness of St Teilo’s Church in Wales High School, who invited me to work alongside them as they celebrated LGBT History Month — demonstrating to young people the universal and inclusive nature of God’s love. I have been enriched by those amongst whom I minster — by their willingness to share so openly with someone so new to ministry. I have been surprised by the desire of parishioners to share their faith, and to grow in faith, as we have shared together in nurture groups. It has been a privilege to walk alongside the people of Rumney in their journey of Christian discipleship.
I look forward to continuing that journey as priest — to sharing with them the gifts of Word and Sacrament. And so, of your charity, may I ask for your prayers, as I prepare to be ordained priest (God, Bishop, and people consenting) this Petertide.