A deacon is a minister whose call of God to Christian ministry, gifts, and usefulness have been demonstrated and enhanced by proper training and experience, who has been separated to the service of Christ by a vote of a district assembly and by the solemn act of ordination, and who has been invested to perform certain functions of Christian ministry.
The deacon does not witness to a specific call to preach. The church recognizes, on the basis of Scripture and experience, that God calls individuals to lifetime ministry who do not witness to such a specific call, and believes that individuals so called to such ministries should be recognized and confirmed by the church and should meet requirements, and be granted responsibilities, established by the church. This is a permanent order of ministry.
The deacon must meet the requirements of the order for education, exhibit the appropriate gifts and graces, and be recognized and confirmed by the church. The deacon shall be vested with the authority to administer the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and to officiate at marriages where the laws of the state do not prohibit, and on occasion to conduct worship and to preach. It is understood that the Lord and the church may use this person’s gifts and graces in various associate ministries. As a symbol of the servant ministry of the Body of Christ, the deacon may also use his or her gifts in roles outside the institutional church. (30.2, 514.9–514.10)
A deacon candidate professes a call of God to this ministry. The candidate currently holds a district license, and has at one time held a license for not less than three consecutive years. In addition, the candidate has been recommended for renewal of district license by the church board of the local church in which he or she holds membership or by the District Advisory Board. Further the candidate:
- has fulfilled all the requirements of the church for the same,
- has successfully completed a validated course of study prescribed for licensed ministers and candidates for ordination as deacon, and
- has been carefully considered and favorably reported by the Ministerial Credentials Board to the district assembly.
The candidate may be elected to the order of deacon by two-thirds vote of the district assembly; provided he or she has been an assigned minister not less than three consecutive years; and provided further that the candidate must currently be serving in an assigned ministry. In the case of part-time assignment, it should be understood that there should be an extension of the consecutive years of in-service time, depending on their level of involvement in local church ministry, and that their testimony and service demonstrate that their call to ministry is primary to all other pursuits. Further, any disqualification that may have been imposed by a district assembly has been removed in writing by the district superintendent and District Advisory Board of said district; and provided further that his or her marriage relationship does not render him or her ineligible for ordination. (30.1–30.3, 203.6, 320, 527)
If in the pursuance of his or her ministry, the ordained deacon feels called to the preaching ministry, he or she may be ordained elder upon completion of the requirements for that credential and the return of the deacon credential.