Saturday, September 04, 2010

Stephen's Ordination

Today's ordination of Deacons in the Cathedral was a wonderful, joyful service. Our new Curate, Stephen Snelling, of course, was one of the ordinands, and, from the beaming smile on his face, clearly found the service every bit as moving as those of us who were watching. Here are some photos - a "before" and "after" shot.

In case you wonder what a Deacon is, I have pasted below the words which are read in ordination services just before the candidates are ordained.

"Deacons are called to work with the Bishop and the priests with whom they serve as heralds of Christ’s kingdom. They are to proclaim the gospel in word and deed, as agents of God’s purposes of love. They are to serve the community in which they are set, bringing to the Church the needs and hopes of all the people. They are to work with their fellow members in searching out the poor and weak, the sick and lonely and those who are oppressed and powerless, reaching into the forgotten corners of the world, that the love of God may be made visible.
Deacons share in the pastoral ministry of the Church and in leading God’s people in worship. They preach the word and bring the needs of the world before the Church in intercession. They accompany those searching for faith and bring them to baptism. They assist in administering the sacraments; they distribute communion and minister to the sick and housebound.
Deacons are to seek nourishment from the Scriptures; they are to study them with God’s people, that the whole Church may be equipped to live out the gospel in the world. They are to be faithful in prayer, expectant and watchful for the signs of God’s presence, as he reveals his kingdom among us."

In practical terms a deacon can lead worship, preach, take part in the pastoral work, and do many of the other things a priest does, but deacons can't pronounce the absolution or the blessing, or consecrate the bread and wine at Holy Communion. Clergy are normally ordained deacon first, then ordained priest a year later, so Stephen should be ordained as a priest this time next year. You can recognise a deacon by the fact that they wear their stoles diagonally across one shoulder,- Miss World style! - rather than vertically as priests do.

We will be welcoming Stephen officially at Seal tomorrow morning for his first service with us. Please pray for him and for his wife, Deborah, as they begin this new stage in their lives.

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