Chapter 13: Methodist Order of Deacons

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13.1 To share Christ’s love through service and to help the Church respond to the needs of the wider community.

13.1.1 Deacons belong to an ordained ministry of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. Their ministry may include working in a pastoral context in a Society or Circuit, or, working in secular employment e.g. education, health care, welfare and social upliftment organizations. Deacons seek to be Christ’s servants in the world and encourage the Church community to a ministry of servanthood. Apart from local pastoral ministry or church planting projects some practical aspects of service that the Order of Deacons could engage in are: poverty alleviation; care for the sick and dying; care for the aged or youth; evangelism and mission outreach; parachurch organisations.

13.2 Members of the Order are known as “Deacons” a term reserved in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa for members of the Order of Deacons.

CONNEXIONAL COMMITTEE


13.3 The Order is under the direction of a Connexional Committee consisting of the Presiding Bishop, the Executive Secretary, a Bishop, the Warden, and three Ministers, five lay members and two Deacons nominated by the Executive Committee.

13.4 The Connexional Committee shall report and make recommendations to the Connexional Executive on Candidates, Probationers, Candidates for Ordination, and the examinations.

13.5 An Executive Committee may be appointed consisting of the following members of the Connexional Committee: the Executive Secretary, the Warden, three Ministers and two Deacons. The Committee is also the Examining Committee and the Stationing Committee.

CONVOCATION


13.6 An annual Convocation of the Order shall be held at a time determined by the Warden in consultation with the Presiding Bishop. The Convocation consists of the Presiding Bishop, the Executive Secretary, the Warden and the members of the Order. The Presiding Bishop is the President of the Order. Probationers shall attend but may not vote. The Agenda for the Convocation is contained in Appendix 7.

13.7 The Convocation shall nominate a Warden to the Connexional Executive who shall make the appointment. The appointment shall be for three years. The Warden shall be the representative of the Order at Conference.

CANDIDATES


13.8 The primary qualifications for the Order are the sense of a divine call, spiritual and intellectual gifts, the graces of Christian character, and the fruits of Christian service. Candidates shall intend to give their life’s service to the Order.

13.9 The minimum educational standard of Candidates is the Senior Certificate, Matriculation, or an equivalent. Where the primary qualifications are clearly evident consideration may be given to those who have not yet reached this standard.

13.10 No age limit is laid down for candidates. Candidates must be willing and able to fulfil the conditions of probation that will include academic studies and internship training as laid down by the Order, under the general auspice of the Education for Mission and Ministry Unit.

13.11 A Candidate shall apply through the Superintendent to the Warden who shall supply an Application Form.

13.12 A Candidate shall also provide a recommendation from the Superintendent, and the name and address of the Minister of the Society and a Leader of that Society as referees.

13.13 Once the Candidature has been provisionally approved by the Examining Committee, the Superintendent may nominate the Candidate at the next Circuit Quarterly Meeting. The Superintendent shall forward the nature of the voting to the Warden.

13.14 If the Quarterly Meeting approves the candidature, the Warden shall provide the Superintendent with directions for the Candidate’s appearance before the Examining Committee.

13.15 Prior to appearing before the Examining Committee candidates shall write two assignments as directed by the Examining Committee. One assignment shall be on The Word and the other on Service. A pass mark is 50% in each assignment.

13.16 The recommendation of the Examining Committee and the results of the examinations shall be considered by the next Synod which shall make a recommendation to the Connexional Executive, which shall accept the Candidate or otherwise. Candidates shall give testimony regarding their Christian experience, call to the Order, belief in Methodist doctrine and adherence to Methodist discipline at Synod.

PROBATION AND ORDINATION


13.17 Probation is normally four years. Part of the Probation may be in collegiate training as decided by the Connexional Committee. The cost of training is borne by the Training Fund although the Probationer should bear as much of the cost as possible. Training shall be determined by the Order in consultation with the Education for Mission and Ministry Unit. A syllabus shall be published in the Yearbook

13.18 Probationers who have successfully completed their probation shall appear before the Connexional Executive for admission into membership of the Order. They shall be ordained by the Presiding Bishop at a service arranged by the Warden.

APPOINTMENT OF DEACONS


13.19 The Stationing Committee, of which the Warden shall be a member, shall decide the appointment of Deacons after the recommendation of the General Committee. Deacons serve under the direction of the Quarterly Meeting and the Superintendent.

13.20 A Deacon may be invited to serve in a Circuit following the system applicable to Ministers, but the Warden shall be consulted at every stage of the negotiations.

13.21 If the Quarterly Meeting decides no longer to provide an opportunity for service by a Deacon the Superintendent shall immediately inform the Warden. 13.22 A Deacon is a member of the Leaders’ Meeting, the Quarterly Meeting and Synod.

STIPENDS AND ALLOWANCES


13.23 A Circuit providing an opportunity for service for a Deacon shall pay to the Connexional Office on or before the 15th of every month an assessment determined by Connexional Executive. The Connexional Office shall pay the stipend to the Deacon before the end of the month. The Connexional Executive shall determine the stipends and allowances.

13.24 Deacons are members of the Supernumerary Fund, and contributions shall be made to the Fund and benefits received in terms of the rules of the Fund.

13.25 Deacons shall be admitted to the Long Leave Roster, the conditions and benefits being decided by the Connexional Executive.

13.26 Deacon who are paid a stipend through the MCO participates in the Pharos Medical Plan and Extraordinary Affliction Fund on the same basis as Ministers.

13.27 A Circuit providing an opportunity for service for a Deacon shall provide suitable accommodation and shall make adequate provision for travelling.

DISCIPLINE


13.28 The disciplinary procedure provided for Ministers in Chapter 11 shall, mutatis mutandis, apply to Deacons.

13.29 Rule of Life
Devotional Life Deacons are called to:
1 Attend worship regularly, especially Holy Communion.
2 Daily devotion that should include Scripture reading and prayer. Deacons are encouraged to pray for Members of the Order.
3 Set aside time for regular self-examination which should include a time to reflect upon failure to love God and neighbours, and to give thanks for blessings received.

Discipline Deacons commit to:
1 Attending Convocation (Dispensation from the Warden for nonattendance is required)
2 Participate in the life of the area groups, by attending meetings, sharing in fellowship by letter and telephone.
3 Being sensitive to the needs of family, dependants and friends.
4 Involvement in the community in which they live.
5 Good stewardship of time, to accommodate reading, study and appropriate relaxation of a day off once a week and an annual holiday.
6 Good stewardship of money.

13.30 ORDER OF DEACONS – GENERAL REGULATIONS



13.30.1 Stipends and Allowances
A Circuit employing an Ordained or Probationer Deacon shall pay to the Connexional Office a minimum stipend assessment which is 75% of the minimum stipend assessment for a Minister or Probationer Minister as the case may be. The Connexional Office will pay to Deacons an amount proportionate to their years of service. Circuits should work towards the target scale. A Circuit employing a Deacon is encouraged to supplement the above minimum stipend.

13.30.2 Allowances for Uniform
An annual uniform allowance may be given. The amount as decided from time to time is recorded in the Yearbook.

13.30.3 Book Allowances
The Diaconal Order Fund is authorised to pay to the Bookroom an amount for each probationer to assist in purchasing books from an approved Book list in consultation with the Warden. Circuits employing Deacons are to be approached to cover this expense. The cost of books for Probationers’ studies will be refunded if they pass. The Circuit shall provide suitable accommodation comparable with that provided for Ministers.

13.30.4 Travelling
Circuits employing a Deacon should pay a travelling allowance on the same basis as is paid to Ministers. An Associate Membership subscription may be levied where possible in order to cover cost of printing and postage.

13.30.5 Status of Deacons
Deacons are recognised by the Church as called of God, and trained and Ordained for the service of the Church; Their service is primarily evangelistic and pastoral, but they should not be denied opportunity to exercise gifts of preaching, initiative and leadership; They are colleagues on the staff of the Circuit to which they are appointed, responsible to the Superintendent, and thus share in the work of the Circuit.

13.30.6 Furlough
Furlough is due to Deacons on the same basis as Ministers and is shown in the alphabetical list of Deacons. Ordained Ministers may invite ordained or probationer Deacons to assist in the distribution of the elements at Holy Communion. Probationers who are authorised by the Presiding Bishop to administer the sacraments may invite ordained Deacons to assist in distributing the elements without obtaining the Superintendent’s approval, but shall obtain such approval in the case of probationer Deacons.

13.30.7 Deacon
The Connexional Executive resolves that the use of the term ‘Deacon’ in the MCSA be reserved for members of the Diaconal Order.

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