Deacons Meet in Kearney
Thirteen deacons gathered at St. Luke’s, Kearney, August 16 and 17 to visit, eat together, worship together, and reflect on our vocations. Throughout our gathering, we celebrated the variety of ways in which the small group that had assembled manifests the ministry of deacons.
Friday night was for visiting with each other, enjoying a catered barbecued beef dinner that Deacon Colleen Lewis had arranged for us, and praying compline together.
Saturday morning began with Deacon Wes Agar’s pancakes and sausages. After breakfast, each of us shared what’s new in our ministries, and several also shared about ongoing ministries and ways of balancing diaconal service with other things going on in our lives.
We congratulated Deacon Cheryl Harris on receiving a Stephen’s Award at the Association for Episcopal Deacons assembly in June, and she shared the story of her travel adventures and what she learned at the AED workshops. As a result of Cheryl’s information from the assembly and some of the issues raised during the sharing about our ministries, there is interest among the deacons in getting the film Traces of the Trade about the legacy of slavery and the relatively unknown complicity of New Englanders and the Episcopal Church in the slave trade.
Using notes and materials from the spring AED Archdeacons conference, I shared some thoughts on the historical waves of the diaconate in the Episcopal Church and reflection on who we are now and what the diaconate might look like in years to come. With ordination dates ranging from 1984 to 2013 for the deacons at this gathering, we were able to see how the development of the order of deacons is reflected here in the Diocese of Nebraska.
Deacon David Holmquist told us about effective ways to advocate in the Nebraska Unicameral. Along with helping us understand more about the legislative process, he described several issues we may want to continue watching because of their ties to social justice issues that concern deacons and provided us with packets of information about the legislature. We agreed that a longer workshop would be very worthwhile for deacons and others who want to join us in advocacy.
After lunch and more time to visit, we gathered for Eucharist with Fr. Jerry Ness celebrating. We used the propers for St. Mary the Virgin. In the homily, I suggested that Mary’s Song of Praise in Luke 1:46-55 in the context of our common notions about Mary’s life and character could help us reflect further on our own vocations as deacons.
As we left, the consensus was that an informal annual gathering of deacons would be beneficial – and fun. Look for another gathering of deacons in 2014.
Archdeacon Betsy Blake Bennett