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Okay, everyone back in your corners over Overtures 3 & 4.  Thanks to so many for genuine engagement and thoughtful contributions.  Let’s hope that spirit of thinking aloud, iron-sharpening-iron, and clarification continues around here.

By far, the issue with greatest coverage in the Agenda is the Diakonia Remixed report (Agenda for Synod 2013; pp 263-299). I really recommend reading it for yourselves as I believe the report is a model of how these things ought to be laid out.  It is confessional, conversant in the relevant threads of church polity and winsome to boot.  To cut to the chase, though, the recommendations of this study committee are the word-smithing of numerous articles of church order, liturgical forms and the like for the purpose of:

“A Re-imagined Diaconate”

This study report “requires a major rethinking of how the CRC does ministry.”  (Well, that should be met with opinion of some sort, I imagine.) “At a community level, it places new leadership expectations on the local diaconate. At the national level it assumes that deacons have input into the diaconal dimension of the CRCNA’s ministry planning.”

The report continues with steps for practical implementation of that vision but what do you think?  Does the CRC require “a major rethinking” with regard to ministry? 

  • What is to be gained by the seating of diaconal delegates at Classis and Synod?  What would be lost by the same?
  • How does this report dove-tail with the increasing “missional” emphasis in church planting?
  • What connection, if any, does this report have to the discussion of the Belhar Confession last year?  The shifting or additional emphasis on orthopraxis (right practice) alongside orthodoxy (right belief)?



Regarding your second question, it seems that the diaconate is the most "missional" of the offices.  I think that when looking at church history, a case can be made that the diaconate comes into its own at times of missionary/missional impulse.  When that impulse fades, we don't really know what to do with the office.  In times like that, we see, beginning in the first centuries, a cycle that repeats itself, the "cursus honorum", or "path to glory".  (don't know if I'm spelling that right) The diaconate then becomes merely a "stepping stone" office on the way to something else higher...something an individual graduates from.  We can see this pattern in our own denominational history.  The typical pattern, unfortunately, is "once an elder, always an elder"...we graduate people from the diaconate into the eldership, and rarely back the other way.  It's our own cursus honorum.

The culture is shifting around us, and as a denomination we are out of necessity becoming more missional.  Because of that, the diaconate is coming into its own.  I'm excited about this report because I think it is coming at just the right time in our life as a denomination.

Meg Jenista on May 20, 2013

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you so much for your reply.  I confess to being disheartened by the lack of responses to what I think is a really interesting study report.  I appreciate the historical insight you bring to this.  I have also been wondering about the connection between recieving The Belhar Confession as a gift/ecumenical confession and enacting it's impulses in the very practical ways demonstrated by this study committee report.  Orthopraxis alongside orthodoxy.  Who woulda thunk it?!?


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