Waiting... But What about our Breath?


Many of us are eager to know just what the BOT did in September with regard to the synodical decision about creating a task force to look at the office of Deacon.  Wait just a bit longer....

You know the saying, "waiting with baited breath?"   OK, except for the spelling of "baited"...     Here's the thing - who knows the word "bated"?   Why would anyone say, "waiting with bated breath"?   

"Bated" isn't a word, but if the correct word is "baited", then what would breath be baited with?   Chum?   One poet (?) had a little fun with the idea of "baited breath".  Geoffrey Taylor, in his little poem Cruel, Clever Cat, 1933, used the confusion over the word to good comic effect:

Sally, having swallowed cheese
Directs down holes the scented breeze
Enticing thus with baited breath
Nice mice to an untimely death.

Anyway, my point, such as it is, is that we are waiting with bated breath to see what the BOT has done with the deacons task force.   [Bated is short for "abated", which means suppressed by some physical or emotional sensation.  Thank Shakespeare for the phrase.]

Are you eager to know the reporting deadline?  Are you even more eager to know who is on the task force?  I am!  Did the BOT amplify the instructions to the task force in any way?   We'll see.

Here's my real point - we don't need to wait; we can get to work.  Deacons can do their work in ways that will help the task force to rethink the office!  Deacons can discover new ways to fill their role.  They can experiment with new ways to work.  They can open up new ways to imagine what deacons do in the new millenium!   And then we can tell our stories - to the task force!

Well, we'll find out about the BOT's decision soon enough.  We'll hear the report of the task force soon enough.    Meanwhile, we can all help think and pray and explore - and model new exciting dimensions of being a deacon that we'll discover as we engage with our congregations and our communities.   Let's see if the task force can catch up with the deacons!

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I sorry, but I think most people's lives consist of more than thinking about "The Bot Decision ".

Community Builder

Maybe not the BOT decision specifically, but I do hear from many in diaconal work who are wondering what will happen, how we can transform the office of deacon to be more effective and seen as more than a precursor to becoming an elder someday. How can we make deacons of everyone in the church, not just those with the official title? We are all called to such ministry.

Have them talk to the members one on one with humble hearts and a open minds. You will be busy for years. I'm being serious!

Community Builder

Dear kelib,

You are certainly right that people are not living for the BOT decision!  I know that there is pain that makes BOT decisions seem silly and irrelevant.   I know it's a time of joblessness, and loneliness, and illness, and being without insurance,and wondering whether anyone cares.  I know that there are plenty of people in our world who couldn't care less what the decision makers in the CRC do or don't do.

You, kelib, know about pain.   I read between the lines and I hear your heart.   You are hurting and the BOT decisions seem useless.   Where is comfort ?  Where is real mercy?

kelib, when you open your heart just a little bit, and let the hurting show, you take a big risk.  You  know that.  You risk being misunderstood, and you risk rejection.  You risk more pain.   I'm sorry that is true.   At the same time, I don't know how you can find mercy and friendship and healing unless you DO take the risk.  God's people are called to be a healing community, a community of love and grace and mercy.  I pray that may be your experience, and I pray that you won't pull back when the pain is great.  May you find the kind of deacons who will come around you with arms of love in the name of Jesus.   No one deserves less than that, and everyone has a need for that, no matter how much it may look like we have our lives all  together.

Thanks Karl, You are so correct. I'm totolly broken, sick, lonely and totally reliant on Jesus and his promises. God prodded me to become  humble and open so he can use me. It's been exciting and heartbreaking to be in God's service. Karl You are the first person to read between my poorly chosen words and dubious methods to see what God has placed on my heart. I could hug you! This isn't about me per se but about what the Jesus told us to due and how you can accomplish this with being humble and acting out of Love.  My christian brothers, we so easily trust knowledge at the expense of God's wisdom as explained by Jesus, Love God above all else(including religiousness) and Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus made this summary of law distinctly simple. 

Thanks Karl, I have a favor to ask. Could you please continue push these obervations here. I'm to ill equiped to represent God the way He should be. God has told me that his grace is  a enough for any of us and there are no small parts in his Kingdom building!   God bless you

Community Builder

kelib, you DID give me a hug with your note!  Thanks!   Humble loving actions are at the heart of the Christian life, and you nailed it.  LOVE is the greatest of these!!   

One year ago on November 1 my 38 year old daughter went to be with Jesus in heaven.  She had leukemia.  Oh how we miss her.  She was beautiful inside and out with a loving nature.  She had a sharp tongue too, but always admitted it and asked for forgiveness.   sometimes the sharpness was both painful and funny.

Why do I share this here?  Because when I think of her life, I see so clearly that her daily walk was a humble one, a loving one.  Not dramatic, not spectacular, not outstanding in any way.  She used to say, "I love my life."   And it was a simple life.  She learned, especially in her 21 month journey with leukemia, to love the blessings she experienced in every day ways.  She loved looking out of the hospital window at fall colors.  She arranged her room to be "homey".  She took great joy in her cats whenever she got to be at home with them.  And she loved her husband and her friends and her parents.

I celebrate Sarah's life.  I celebrate the presence of God's grace in her - her faith, her dignity, her unshakable steadiness, her trust that her life was in God's hands.  These are the "eternal verities" , kelib, and she "got it"; you get it too. My wife has a great gift of contentment.  I'm learning it - slowly.   I pray that the daily reminders of God's goodness that we experience in the "dailiness" of our lives will become more and more visible to us, and that we will continue to bless each other by our faithful testimony to his steadfast love, which endures forever!

I cannot imagine your loss or spiritual battles you would  be requred to fight. I see Jesus has provided you divine perspective about who Sarah is and her inspired wonderful approach to life and death. You will be with her again.

God Bless you for honoring me with Your story. It speaks like any sermon and blesses us who can relate. Thanks Karl

A few observations:

Some classis have "Diaconal Conferences where deacons get together 3 or 4 times a year to share their work and to network, discussing common areas and at times develop projects shared among many churches. Training for new deacons is also an ongoing task.

At the same time, deaconal concerns are rarely dealt with at classis/synod with many deacons present. Discussions can easily go off track. 

In order to balance discussions and deliberations, many people are trying to figure out how to increase deaconal representation at Classis and Synod without increasing delegate count by 33% which would make decision making even more cumbersome and frustrating.

If deacons feel isolated, unappreciated and untrained, perhaps the first attempt to correct this is to establish a local Diaconal Conference.


Community Builder

Thanks!  Yes and Amen.  The kind of Deacons Conference you describe is wonderful for training,encouragement, spiritual growth, and collaboration.  I also agree that deacons belong at classis and synod.  I'm very hopeful that the newly named deacons' task force will address this issue.  I'll have more news about that as soon as its membership is all confirmed and the news is public.   The assignment from synod gives us all a great opportunity to think in fresh ways about the office and role of the deacon.  

But wouldn't you say that diaconal conferences work best in a classis where the churches are in pretty close proximity to each other?  My classis encompasses an entire state.  Other classes are even larger, stretching over more than one state.  And since diaconal work is so contextual, it's hard to get people together on the same page, harder when some work in urban and some in rural areas. 

Community Builder

Jeff, your comment is right on ....  yes, diaconal work is SO contextual (or should be)!  That's a key point, and yes, the variety of communities and congregational settings makes it hard to get on the same page.  I wonder how others have handled this.

I wish so hard that congregations could support each other more in diaconal work, learn together, and even when appropriate develop cooperative ministry.   Yet sometimes it's even hard to get folks from the same congregation on the same page!

This is a great opportunity for me to say that there is another dimension of The Network being developed - networks of regional resources IN REGIONS where CRC congregations are present.   This dimension is intended to complement and further expand the networking that is online.  We are experimenting in a half dozen regions, to see if we can instigate some inter-congregational networking where that is not happening and where it would be helpful.   Your comment on how diversity in congregational settings makes that hard reminds me that sometimes what we might need is "affinity" networks, not just geographical ones.  How might your congregation, for example, find others who are in similar circumstances and have similar challenges and opportunities?  And how might you get in touch for encouragement, learning, intercession, and the like?   What do you think?   Could I be helpful in that, wearing my Network Developer hat?

the Diaconal Conference for Alberta North Classis meets just outside Edmonton Alberta and deacons within a two hour drive usually makes the meetings. That does exclude a few churches to the north of us within 6 hours drive.  Having both city and rural based deacons at the same meeting is very helpful. We can learn from each other!

Karl or aguilla1,

Would you have examples of Diaconal Conference agendas, speakers, topics, etc...that would be helpful in setting up a conference?  I think that one existed in our classis back in the 80s but ceased operating some time ago.  No idea where the information would even be found.  Do you meet monthly or quarterly?


Here are the typical minutes of a Diaconal Conference Board meeting. I removed / replaced most names for privacy reasons.




Minutes of the board meeting held January 21, 2010 at Ebenezer CRC, Leduc, AB

Present: Deacon, Pastoral Advisor, West End; Deacon, First-Edmonton; CRWRC Rep, Deacon, Covenant-Edmonton; Refugee Coordinator, Fellowship; Deacon, Trinity; Deacon,NADC Admin, Ottewell; NADC Exec, Deacon Bethel-Lacombe; Deacon, NADC Exec, Ebenezer; NADC Exec, Neerlandia; DMC/NADC staff, Deacon, Inglewood; Deacon, DMC Rep, Woodynook; DMD, Wolf Creek;

Absent with notice: 3

*Denotes Action Required

1.       OPENING: Chair read from II Kings 4:9, noting that our lives are a powerful witness, then opened with prayer.

2.       AGENDA: was approved with one addition

3.       INTRODUCTIONS: Self introductions were made

4.       MINUTES: The minutes of Sept 10/09 were received as information

5.       NADC EXECUTIVE: There are two openings for members of Executive. If you are interested, or know anyone who might be, please let Henry, or any Executive member know.  Interested persons need not be serving deacons, but must have a passion for diaconal work. It is necessary to fill these positions in order to keep the NADC functioning, which is very important to the ongoing success of the various projects NADC undertakes, as well as communication and support among the deacons.

6.       TREASURER'S REPORT: DMC/NADC staff reported that the final quarter report was received from the Classical Treasurer (attached), and indicated that it contained no surprises.    

7.       CRWRC:

·         CRWRC Rep distributed a letter from Henrietta Hunse regarding relief work in Haiti. CRWRC's work will be focused in Leogane.  He noted that donations can be made for immediate relief, which will be matched by the Canadian government 1-1;  or for development work, which may be matched 2-1; or donations can be designated to where most needed. He stressed that the website is updated regularly, so for most recent information, go to www.crwrc.org.  He noted that a powerpoint presentation and bulletin insert are available from the website.

·         He noted that 2009 was not good financially for CRWRC, with aid to all countries being cut by 10-15%, and 10 staff persons were laid off, with a 20% pay cut for remaining staff. This could result in some strain on CRWRC's relations with CIDA, if confidence is eroded.

·         the AIDS awareness campaign went very well.

·         Thanks for ongoing support of CRWRC!


·         NADC Staff reported that the Day of Encouragement went well, registrations were up a bit, the inclusion of the youth workshops was very well received, and evaluations indicated that the day was a blessing for those who attended.

·         Next DOE:  Deacon asked if we could invite each church in Alberta South, as their DOE was cancelled. The answer is yes, and this will be taken up in the planning committee, which is in the process of being formulated. This suggestion may come back to the Board for approval at the May meeting. NADC Staff reported that Ron DeVries, Youth Ministry Consultant for Classis Alberta N. would like to be involved in the planning, and it would be good to have Home Missions representation as well.


·         DMD has been very busy with new deacon workshops, which she did at the DOE and in several  churches. She will be doing a circle of chairs soon. She just returned from a DMD gathering in Burlington.

·         NADC Staff said that the Edmonton area churches can call DMD for any training, or to invite him to your deacon meetings. He is also planning a circle of chairs meeting soon.

10.   DIACONAL MINISTRIES CANADA (DMC): DMC board and Operation Manna meetings are scheduled for the near future. DMC has also experienced some financial constraints, as income from above- ministry- share-offerings is down.  Operation Manna (OM) funding through offerings experienced a decline which resulted in a reduction of funding to the OM projects. DMC staff and the OM committee  have initiated a review of the OM program, including income streams.


·         REf Coor reported January 6/10 CRC news had an article on how CRCNA helps refugees. Rose Dekker made sure Bethel CRC (Edm) family and existing filings by Fellowship, West End, Maranatha and St Albert were mentioned.

·         CRWRC's web page on Refugee Settlement now contains links to other sites.

·         Deacon (West End) contacted Ref Coor. She works for Brendan Institution specializing in helping professionals with post secondary degrees seeking suitable job placement and career paths.

·         NADC Staff distributed a letter from Rose Dekker and Rebecca Walker, CRWRC Refugee staff (attached).


·         NADC Staff distributed his report (attached) and commented on some hi-lites:  Jose Ramon's visit; church planting conference in Calgary with Michael Frost who emphasized that God is a sending God, sent His word to create, sent his Son to save, sent the Holy Spirit to empower, and sends us to do His work.

·         DANC Staff reiterated that it is important to keep the Conference (NADC) alive, as others have folded, but if  we see benefit in having the Conference, we must work to keep it going. There are 4 areas of focus: three  Board meetings per year; Honduras Water Project; the Kenya Project ;  and the NADC office(contact point/dissemination of information/administration of other areas).

13.   STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEES: Rep asked if other churches have them, and suggested a circle of chairs meeting combined with stewardship committee members. He is interested in getting a dialog going among churches who have a stewardship committee and possibly invite guest speakers, so if your church has one, could you* please get a member of your stewardship committee to contact Norm at [email protected].

14.   KAREN REFUGEES: NADC Staff advised that he received a call from CRC member, who said there are lots of Karen refugees who would like their kids to go to the Christian school, but cannot afford the extra fees.  Maranatha CRC is working on a proposal to provide some financial assistance to these families. This should be ready to be presented at the May meeting.

15.   KENYA PROJECT: NADC staff thanked the churches for continuing to take offerings, and advised that some funds were released to a former partner on an emergency basis during the drought. They were also able to offer some assistance to a reconciliation process after tribal clashes, as well as some health assistance. The mobile clinic is busy with immunizations, clinics, etc. The Participatory Rural Assessment has gone well.

16.   HONDURAS WATER PROJECT:  bulletin announcements have gone out for our 16th water project. NADC Staff advised that costs have increased, and it would be good to have a better balance between the cost to get the team there and what is spent on the project. Project costs are what offerings are used for. If we did not support the projects, they would not happen. Deacon moved that NADC increase our financial support to $1200 per person (from $1000) to a maximum of 12 people (or $14,400). CRWRC Rep seconded the motion, and it was carried. For clarity, the purpose of the increase is not to reduce what team members have to pay in, but to increase what is contributed to project costs.

17.   SHARING & CARING:  A time  of round table sharing was enjoyed by all. Details of the concerns, joys, happenings will be published in the next Network News.

18.   CLOSING: pastoral Advisor closed the meeting with prayer.

Next Board Meeting: 7:30 on Thursday, May 6, 2010 in Ebenezer CRC, Leduc 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He's going to be up all night anyway.            ~Mary C. Crowley                 

Dear Karl, As a layman, I was always reminded that our first ministry is to our family. Should our Deacons have the same approach with the church body being our family? I thinf the Deacons should start there, then incorporate the people to help the Deacons with their external mission. Deacons should be leaders with help of people in the church. Get everyone involved for it will instill the sense of giving to the people.  I think church budgets would benifit because people would see their own blessings in a new light.

Community Builder

I think you are right that our first responsibility  is to those with whom we have direct relationships.  And that's the beginning.

God's blessings are always for the purpose of equipping us to bless others.   The deacon needs to see that her or his responsibility begins with motivating and equipping God's people to participate, to share in serving the needs of others.  I think deacons help God's people to know the joy of gifting each other so that together they can gift the world.

When we see this inter-connection between serving and equipping and involving the family, and the "external mission", and stewardship, we are on our way to a very "wholistic" understanding of what it means to be a deacon.  The responsibility of the deacon is to enable the family of God to join in to serve, to give, to participate in mission.  In this important sense deacons are servant leaders.   The more people are involved with the deacons in stewarding their gifts, and making them available to the congregation's mission, the more the work of the deacon is effective.

A good leader like Jesus did delegate the Gospel to humans to spread the good news, it makes since to me to follow his pattern of leadership to be effective.  Thanks Karl for the thoughts