Hello ECMN Deacons,

Christmas blessings to you all!
 
Please email the Commission at deacon@episcopalmn.org to add prayer requests, reach-out, and if you have any questions around the following resources. 
 
The Deacon's Forum by Guy Drake, Deacon Emeritus St. David's Episcopal Church, Minnetonka, MN

A Long Road by Guy Drake
Living in Grand Island, Nebraska in 1979, Bishop Warner authorized the 4-year EFM curriculum as a road to the diaconate, eager to ordain some deacons in the vast reaches of the western part of the state, where Episcopal clergy were few and far between. My wife, Nan, and I went through the process of becoming certified EFM mentors and formed a group of 8 students from as far away as Holdrege to the southwest. We studied together for 3-12 years, when I received a job transfer to the Twin Cities, where we both grew up. Bishop Anderson did not recognize EFM for ordination, but we formed a new group at St. David’s and stayed together for another four years. Meanwhile, all 6 of our Nebraska cohort were ordained six months after we left in 1982. With a new position at work and a young family, I was working around the clock and did not attend any seminary classes for a long time. Eventually, when the School for Formation was launched, I started taking one class per semester, when I could fit it in between 25 surgeries I had from 1986 to 2013. In the spring of 2013, I received a letter that I had taken enough courses over 6 years to be ordained as a deacon in June of that year. All of the members of our original cohort in Nebraska had retired from ministry by then.

I have been blessed to serve these last 7-12 years as deacon at St. David’s in Minnetonka, the parish that Nan and I joined upon moving back to Minnesota in 1982. Last year Bishop Prior changed my title to Deacon Emeritus, in order to provide an opportunity for new deacons at St. David’s. So far, everything has remained the same, and I will be allowed to stay with my St. David’s family until I ride off into the sunset. I am so grateful for that, especially since in 1983 we bought a house just a couple of blocks from the church and are still there.

My entire time on the staff at St. David’s has been spent serving with our rector, The Rev. Katherine Lewis, and our adjunct clergy, Len and Lindsay Freeman. I could never have asked for more capable and inspiring mentors. Becoming a parish deacon was a long learning curve for me, much more so than I had expected after being in discernment for 25 or 30 years! I still feel like a beginner in so many ways, and 2020 has clearly been an entirely new experience for me, unlike anything before in terms of pastoral care, outreach, preaching, and parish leadership.

I still feel a strong bond with the gang of deacons who were ordained with me in 2013-14 after our years together in The School for Formation. I think there were 13 of us ordained as priests and deacons in my ceremony alone on June 27, 2013, in a stifling field house at Breck School. But the class before ours in January and the class after ours the following January were filled with the folks I studied with for all those years. God bless all of you in your journey. It’s been the joy of my life to have shared the ride.
 
We would love stories and ministry ideas to share in our monthly newsletter. Please send any articles you would like to submit to this email address (deacon@episcopalmn.org).

The Longest Night Service offered by St. Mark’s Cathedral
The Longest Night ends at the brief moment when the sun is exactly over the Tropic of Capricorn, but it contains God’s promise of ever-lasting presence in suffering and loss. It is a doorway to the Incarnation and the Resurrection.

This will be a service of scripture, prayers, psalmody, and music. With your input, we will have a candle lighting ritual, to recognize the losses and griefs on our hearts.

We invite you to send us confidentially the losses you would like acknowledged during the candle lighting part of this service. You can do so by emailing pastoralcare@ourcathedral.org or leaving a message on our Pastoral Care voicemail 612-400-1200 ext. 101.

The Pastoral Care Ministry of St. Mark’s will offer again this year the service of the Longest Night on December 21st at 2PM. This service will be live-streamed. Please check ourcathedral.org for a link to this and all services. 
 
Retired Deacon Stories
The Commission is working to collect ministry/life stories from retired Deacons in Minnesota. We hope to produce a compendium of Deacon stories that reflect the life of Deacons in Minnesota that will monument our history. In addition to interviews, stories of Deacons who have passed on are welcome, and will be added to the collection. For further information, contact The Rev. Harlan Strong at harlanstrong@comcast.net.
 
School for Formation (SFF) Opportunities:
Do you get the School for Formation newsletter? Do you want to stay up-to-date on the SFF's offerings? Sign up for the newsletter here and join in on the donation based Spring courses.

Upcoming courses include:
  • Safe Church Training
  • Security and Emergency Management
  • Building Bridges Across Race and Culture
  • Christian Spirituality
 
NEW On-Demand Course:
Make Me an Instrument of Peace: A Guide to Civil Discourse For Groups. A new offering from the School for Formation's partnership with ChurchNext. This free 5-week online curriculum was built in conjunction with The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations and its Department of Faith Formation. "Civil discourse is engagement in conversation intended to enhance understanding. The goal of these conversations is to be in deeper relationship and to more truly know each other’s’ dignity and worth." Log in to find it here: https://ecmn.pathwright.com/
 
There are several other on-line learning opportunities through the ECMN School for Formation that can be found HERE.
 
Twin Cities Stand Together (TCST)
ECMN is partnering with TCST to operate a community center out of the Gethsemane building that will house programs for downtown residents of all ages, serving the needs of our most marginalized citizens, and will act as a hub for groups who are working to address systemic racism in our city. For more information click HERE.
 
Hunger in the Time of Corona Virus
The Rev. Georgianna Smith offers the following website for a summary of food insecurity in key U.S. locations, link HERE.
 
In our Prayers
  • The Rev. Loxley Jean Koshnick, Detroit Lakes.
  • Bob Hoffman
  • Lowell Johnson
  • Mary Fred Watkins
  • Patricia Benson
  • Harold Breed and family
  • Vaccine for COVID-19
  • People of have contracted and/or died from COVID-19
  • Are there others, email deacon@episcopalmn.org?
 
Chaplains for the Diaconate
The Reverends Harlan Strong, Brenda Hoffman, and Rick Todd are the members of our Commission who serve as Deacons for all the Deacons in Minnesota. They are here to offer connection, prayer and support for us and they welcome your emails. They are happy to talk with you one-on-one regarding and needs. Harlan can be contacted at harlanstrong@comcast.net, Brenda at bgrhoffman@hotmail.com and Rick can be contact at rick.todd1626@gmail.com.
 
Your work matters to the Commission, and to ECMN, and you deserve to be heard and recognized. We want to hear your concerns and suggestions for improving our ministry and for being in solidarity with each other as we build up the body of Christ. Email the Commission at deacon@episcopalmn.org.

Peace and Blessings,
Brenda and Terry
Commission for the Diaconate Communicators

The purpose of the Commission for the Diaconate is to serve as a resource for the community of deacons within ECMN and they hope to do this through networking, coordinating events, and pastoral support.

As a way of increasing communications for and among all deacons in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, the Commission for the Diaconate has launched an online newsletter. It is intended to be a monthly communication, and will follow monthly commission meetings. The format will include updates, announcements, and events. The Commission will be working on creating an accessible on-line forum space where deacons can share ideas, post articles, and network with each other. Stay tuned for that information! For now, please consider joining the ECMN Deacon Facebook group.

To communicate with The Commission, you can always email deacon@episcopalmn.org. The current Commission members are:
The Rev. Dawnlynn Greeney Convener/Chair (St. James, Marshall)
The Rev. Georgianna Smith (St. Clement's, St. Paul)
The Rev. Harlan Strong (Epiphany, Plymouth)
The Rev. Rick Todd (St. John's, White Bear Lake)
The Rev. Janet MacNally (St. Christopher's, Roseville)
The Rev. Brenda Hoffman (Ascension, Stillwater)
The Rev. Terry Erickson (St. Mark's Cathedral, Minneapolis)
The Rev. Lynne Sprick (St. Mark's, Lake City)
The Rev. George Ham (St. John's, St. Cloud)