From Academic Kids

This article deals with religious officials; for the sounding rocket, see Deacon (rocket)
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Deacon is a role in the Christian Church which is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. In many traditions, the diaconate is a clerical office; in others, it is for laity.

The word deacon (and deaconess) is derived from the Greek word diakonos (διακονος), which is often translated servant or more specifically waiter. The office of deacon originated in the selection of seven men (among them Stephen) to assist with the pastoral and administrative needs of the early church. (Acts of the Apostles, chapter 6)


Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, & Anglicanism

The diaconate is one of three ordained offices in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches. The other two offices are those of priest and of bishop.

In Roman Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox churches, deacons assist priests in their pastoral and administrative duties, but (in Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy) report directly to the bishop. They have a distinctive role in the liturgy, their main tasks being to read the Gospel and assist in the administration of the Eucharist.


In Anglican churches, deacons often work directly in ministry to the marginalized inside and outside the church: the poor, the sick, the hungry, the imprisoned. Unlike Orthodox and Roman Catholic deacons, Anglican deacons are permitted to marry, as are Anglican priests.

Eastern Orthodoxy

In addition to reading the Gospel and assisting in the administration of the Eucharist, the deacon censes the icons and people, calls the people to prayer, prays the litanies (series of petitions) and has a role in the dialog of the Anaphora.

Deacons vest in the sticharion, the orarion, and the epimanikia.

Deacons may not marry after being ordained, but a married man may be ordained a deacon, regardless of whether they remain a deacon or are ultimately elevated to the priesthood. See clerical celibacy.

Roman Catholicism

Two sacraments are proper to the Roman Catholic deacon: Baptism and Holy Matrimony. Deacons are forbidden to perform the sacraments proper to priests (Reconciliation, Annointing of the Sick, and Eucharist) and bishops (Holy Orders and Confirmation). In the liturgy, it is proper for the deacon to proclaim the Gospel, offer the Intentions, and when the Eucharist is distributed under both species, to administer the Chalice.

The vestment most particularly associated with the Roman Catholic deacon is the Dalmatic. Deacons, like priests and bishops, wear the stole; however, deacons place the stole over their left shoulder and it hangs across to their right side, while priests and bishops wear it around the neck.

Often these deacons serve on a part time basis, and have another full time position. Permanent deacons may also act as parish administrators. In such a case, the deacon would be responsible for most administrative work, while a priest would serve on a part time basis to perform sacramental duties (a sacramental moderator). As in Anglican churches, deacons often work directly in ministry to the marginalized inside and outside the church: the poor, the sick, the hungry, the imprisoned.

In the Roman Catholic church, women are not ordained to the diaconate. This is matter of tradition, however, in the same way that the Church does not regularly ordain married men to the priesthood. Married men may be ordained as deacons, however they may not marry after being ordained. A married deacon may not be elevated to the priesthood. See clerical celibacy.

Prior to the Second Vatican Council ordination to the diaconate was regarded as a transitional stage leading to ordination to the priesthood. In the years following the Council, the distinctive roles of permanent deacon and transitional deacon have emerged. Men on track to be ordained to the priesthood are first ordained to the transitional diaconate for a period of not less than six months. (Code of Canon Law, 1031) They then may be ordained to the priesthood.

Men who wish to be deacons but do not seek ordination to the priesthood are ordained to the permanant diaconate. Because permanent deacons are not expected to be ordained to the priesthood, married men may be ordained; however, once ordained, a permanent deacon may never remarry, even if he becomes a widower. The permanent diaconate is particularly popular in the United States.


The diaconate is also an office in many Protestant denominations.

In United Methodism, it is one of two ordained clergy offices, the other being that of Elder. Deacons are ordained to Word and Service and assist Elders (who are ordained to Word, Sacrament, and Order) in equipping the saints for ministry.

Deacons are also appointed or elected in other Protestant denominations, though this is less commonly seen as a step towards the Ministry. The role of deacon in these denominations varies a great deal from denomination to denomination; often, there will be more emphasis on administrative duties than on pastoral or liturgical duties. In some denominations, deacons duties are only financial management and practical aid and relief. Elders handle pastoral and other administrative duties.

In the GARBC deacons can be any adult male member of the congregation that is in good standing. Most often the deacon or deacon candidate is a long-standing member of the church, being middle aged, but younger deacons are usually the members of a family that has had several generations in the same church. They are elected by quorum vote annually. Their roles are semi-pastoral in that they fill in for the pastor on occasions, or lead a prayer service. Their main roles are to accompany the pastor during Communion to hand out the sacraments of bread and wine (grape juice) and to set a good example for others to follow. Administrative duties sometimes include oversight of the treasury, Sunday school curriculum, transportation, and various outreach ministries.


For the role of Deacon in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS/Mormon), see Priesthood (Mormonism) and Deacon (Mormonism).

Church of Christ

The role of deacons in this church is also widely varied. Generally they are put in control of various programs of a congregation. They are servants, as the etymology indicates, of the church. They are under the subjection of the elders, as is the rest of the congregation. Their qualifications are found in the New Testament, in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 (Waddey, John; et al. (1981). Introducing the Church of Christ. Star Bible Publications, Fort Worth, Texas 76182. <>)de:Diakon fr:Diacre nl:Diaken no:Diakon pt:Diácono ja:輔祭


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