Hello ECMN Deacons,

Blessings to you during this season of Epiphany!
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 Chip Whitacre, Deacon Trinity Episcopal, Excelsior

Last year around this time I was approaching the seventh anniversary of my ordination to the diaconate. At the same time, I realized that I had been in my assignment at Trinity Excelsior for most of those seven years. Later in the year, as we prepared to send our discernment letters to Bishop Prior and Bishop-elect Loya, the thought of taking a sabbatical occurred to me. That thought was born of reflections on what it meant to “do” ministry that arose as a result of the limitations brought on by the pandemic.

So it was that in August I began a sabbatical, which just ended with the last day of 2020. To begin I went back and pulled out my original sense of call. You will all remember that as the idea we were endlessly asked to articulate during the course of our discernment and formation. Surprisingly, what I found was still valid.

My next step was to reflect on the various conceptions of the ministry of the deacon. I found an ordination sermon in which the deacon-as-the-last-person-in-the-kitchen, sleeves-rolled-up, not-leaving-until-the-tasks-at-hand-are-done was the model presented. I found the deacon-as-bridge-between-the-church-and-the-wider- community model. And the deacon-as-community-organizer model. I went back and re-read some of the original books that we were asked to read during our formation. And that is where I found something provocative. The model of deacon-as-interpreter. In all honesty, I should not have seen that as something new. After all it's right there in the ordination liturgy: “You are to interpret to the Church the needs, hopes and concerns of the world”.

Nonetheless, I encountered those words, with the help of the deeper insight of those authors, in a new and more meaningful way. It helped a bit that in my professional life I had occasion to work with many actual interpreters. People who were responsible for simultaneously translating spoken word from one language to another. It is challenging work that requires intense focus and deep knowledge of both languages. Not just the meaning of the words, but their meaning in the context in which they are used and the cultural values that lie behind them.

The combination of a new insight into the charge received at ordination and my life experience have opened up for me in a new way what it means to “do” the ministry of a deacon. I imagine that every deacon will, at one time or another, function in each of the other models I recalled above. Probably many others as well. But now I am struck by how deep knowledge and understanding of two communities simultaneously is a necessity; how important the specific values of the faith communities in which we serve and the communities in which they reside are to our ministry. And how important deep and abiding relationships in both communities are, not only to achieving that level of understanding, but also in shaping the actions we take together.

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).

Spring Deacon Retreat
A Spring retreat is in the planning for after Easter. This retreat will focus on expanding what we talked about during our Fall 2020 retreat. Once again Chris Johnson will facilitate the conversation. Please watch this monthly newsletter and the deacon’s Facebook page for more information as it develops.
Deacon Facebook Page
There are always new and informative posts on the deacon’s Facebook page. Please check it out.

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, in discernment
  • Lowell Johnson
  • Mary Fred Watkins
  • 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. Janet MacNally, Vice-convener (St. Paul's Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis)
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. 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)