Does Your Unitarian-Universalist Church Have Deacons?

Rev. James Ford has a nice short post up today (and promised perhaps more later) about the tradition of observing communion at his UU church, a topic that has been raised on this blog before.  Rev. Ford also mentions deacons, indicating that this is something else that is not very common in UU churches.  Of course there are UU churches with deacons, such as the Universalist Church of West Hartford, but as Rev. Ford observes it doesn’t seem to be all that widespread a practice.  At the same time, there are other, somewhat similar models that some churches have adopted, such as the lay chaplaincy program at the First Unitarian Congregation of Waterloo.

What about your church: does it include deacons?  What steps does one take to become a deacon, and what responsibilities do they hold?  Are you a deacon, and if so, what has the experience been like?  If your church doesn’t have deacons, is there a specific reason that you are aware of?  Perhaps deacons are mainly confined to the older UU congregations; indeed, are there any congregations from the Fellowship Movement that have deacons?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Does Your Unitarian-Universalist Church Have Deacons?

  1. Our deacons at the First Unitarian Church in Providence have since sometime in the twentieth century been elected, these days for a five year term. Prior to that they were appointed.

    They tend to be “elders” of the church, folk who have served in other positions such as on the Prudential Committee, our board of trustees, or similar positions of signficant responsibility.

    Their primary responsibility is to oversee that spiritual needs of our community are met. In practice they look for concerns that might need attention, as they see it, and address it. So, they have for a few years taken on a practice of contacting everyone in the congregation just to check in.

    While they do not function in the traditional understanding of deacons, a position we have, but call lay ministers, they have prior to the development of that program taken up some of those traditional tasks, specifically arranging meals for members in acute situations…

    An interesting office within our congregation.

  2. When I arrived in Muncie eight years ago I was surprised to find that we had Deacons here. However the term applies only to what would be called ‘ushers’ anywhere else. I imagine that someone growing up in some other church only knew of Deacons as those people who greeted you at the door and gave you hymnal and order of service. We do have a form of lay-chaplaincy program, but those people are called Pastoral Associates. We also have long-standing-core-lay-leaders but they have no formal recognition or title. I have often joked about how silly is our use of the word ‘deacon’ and I often use the word ‘usher’ instead, but the habit is too ingrained to change easily.

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