Do We Really Need Deacons In The Orthodox Church?

The epistle reading this morning at my church was from Acts 6 concerning the first ordination of deacons. Some think that deacons are no longer needed. However please consider this passage from Fr Alexander Schmemann.

“We can already note that if in our day the presence of a deacon in every church community has ceased to be perceived as necessary and self-evident, as one of the conditions of the fullness of church life…then is that not because the experience of the Church herself as the love of Christ and the liturgy as the expression of fulfillment of that love has been weakened in us, if not entirely dissipated?” (p. 108, The Eucharist)

In short, if we do not see deacons as a necessary part of the liturgical life of the Orthodox Church, then Fr Schmemann wonders if our love for the body of Christ has weakened or dissipated.  Do you have a deacon at your church? Is he doing the work of the ministry according to Acts, or is he just a liturgical helper?

More often than not, deacons who have been reduced to the sole function of liturgical helpers are usually being held back by their priest. Prayer is probably the best answer in this scenario. On the other side, not all deacons are ready and equipped for the type of ministry a particular parish needs help with. Again, prayer is the answer to discern God’s will for that deacon.

St Stephen the Protomartyr, the first deacon of the Orthodox Church

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