For many clergy, being ordained “deacon” is simply an important step on the way to being ordained “priest” (or “presbyter”) about a year into their curacy.
But some people are called to the ministry of the “Distinctive Deaconate”, without any intention that they be ordained to the priesthood or serve as incumbent in a church in the future.
This is appropriate in a whole variety of circumstances, including for women whose theological convictions mean they would not want to be ordained priest or serve as a vicar.
Distinctive Deacons frequently have a key role in teaching, leadership and pastoral care in their churches.
The process and criteria for discerning Distinctive Deacons’ vocations are broadly similar to those used for potential incumbents, and their training is funded and provided on the same basis.
Ian McIntosh, Head of Formation for the Church of England, writes:
Amongst many different types of ministry which the Church calls women and men to is that of the Distinctive Diaconate. This ancient ministry embedded deeply in the Christian Tradition combines elements of being a deacon within the Church, within the wider world and especially in the boundaries between the two. Individual deacons may vary as to which of these areas their ministry might focus upon but it remains a vital and essential ministry within the Church. More can be found on exploring a vocation to the distinctive diaconate at http://vocation.churchofengland.org/distinctive-diaconate/.