Dear Hope Church,
It’s late January, the middle of that long barren stretch of winter, but our church is alive and growing, and good things are underway. This is the time of year when the church welcomes nominations for men to the offices of elder and deacon. Those positions, or titles, can feel out of reach when we are new, when we don’t know exactly what the office entails or if we are the “right person” to make a nomination or even fill the position. However, God encourages us to view our church (Hope) as our family. In a family, every member is of equal value. We all of us have a seat around the table to peer into the inner workings of the church for the purpose of understanding and participation.
I’d like to shed a little light on our deacons, a group which often flies under the radar. With a few on sabbatical, there are currently eight men in active positions of service. If I think of the church as a physical human body, the way Scripture suggests in 1 Corinthians, I imagine the deacons as the strong, broad shoulders. These are the men who bear the responsibility of the physical needs of the church, the men who do the literal and figurative heavy lifting. We watch them set up and clean up the church each Sunday morning. They move and stack tables and chairs, grill hot dogs, serve communion, and carry down Christmas decorations from the attic. Whenever we pull together as a church for an event, like a Pavilion service, a special meeting, a dinner, it’s the deacons who are called upon to help execute it. This more physical side of their work is the side we see, but it is the quiet, unseen work I find to be most beautiful.
The world still sees the church as a refuge, even for people who don’t attend. Desperate people, since its beginning, will often approach the church seeking mercy. Hope receives innumerable requests, from members and attenders, as well as strangers from all over Winston-Salem, for help. Help to pay rent. Help to feed children. Help to cover utility bills. Help moving furniture. Help finding a safe place to live. These, and so many other, tangible needs–for safety, food, money, shelter–we as Christians are called to see, acknowledge, and respond with generosity and open-handedness. Hope’s primary avenue for obeying this call is through the deacons. Our deacons receive requests, discuss and discern, make plans for how to help, and allocate money from the Mercy Fund, or time from their schedules, to say “yes” when God places a need at our doorstep. In this way the deacons, gentle, humble men with spirits inclined to serve, shoulder the church’s mission of mercy as we are called to love our neighbors in tactile ways.
Now, with over three hundred regularly attending Sunday services at Hope, the needs have grown exponentially and eight feels too few, the burden of duty overly large. Our church is in need of more men to serve in the position of deacon. Like pastors and elders, deacons are ordained into the position. Ordination is lifelong, which means once a deacon, always a deacon. However, what it does not mean is that a deacon will be required to serve at Hope church forever. It simply means that he will always hold the position of deacon in the Presbyterian church, whether active or not.
Hope is growing. Our family is thriving, extending, adding people to the table at a steady rate, and as in a family, we are all meant to pull our weight, participate, as well as be fed and nourished. Another way of saying this is that God calls us all to give of our lives toward the family of our church and to our community. If you have been considering ways to become involved at Hope, would you consider the position of deacon for yourself, or for someone you know? If you have additional questions about this, or the position of elder, please feel free to email or call one of the pastors, or an elder or deacon directly! Their phone numbers are listed weekly in the bulletin.