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Church of Ireland experience of deacon interns shared in Edinburgh
Added on Wednesday 2nd May 2012

edinburigh p comerfordThe Church of Ireland was represented by Canon Patrick Comerfordof the Church of Ireland Theological Instituteat a recent Seminar on Deacons, the Diaconate and Diakonia. The seminar in Edinburgh was organised by the Diaconate Working Group (DWG) of the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) as part of the Porvoo Communion consultations on the diaconate and diakonia ministry.

The seminar was chaired by the Bishop–elect of Edinburgh Very Revd Dr John Armes, secretary of the Diaconate Working Group.

The participants included the Right Revd Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, representatives of the four Anglican Churches on these islands – the Church of Ireland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church in Wales and the Church of England – and representatives of a number of Churches in Scotland, including the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church, the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, the Salvation Army, and the United Reformed Church.

Bishop Armes said the seminar had been called because the Scottish Episcopal Church, as a member of the Porvoo Communion, is committed to exploring diakonia and diaconate, and in the light of the 2009 consultation in Oslo, is committed to exploring the meaning of diakonia and what to do about diakonia and diaconate.

The seminar was an exercise in extending this discussion by listening to the experiences of the other member churches of the Anglican Communion on these islands and the experiences of the other denominations in Scotland.

Canon Comerford spoke of the new ministry training programme at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and of the experiences of third–year ordinands who had been placed in parishes as “deacon–interns” in their third year.

The Revd Deacon Frances Hillier said most permanent deacons in the Church of England tend to be NSMs, and tend to be in caring professions. Although some are canons and she is a bishop’s chaplain, they cannot be archdeacons.

Bishop Mark Strange said a number of people feel called to a different type of ministry in the community that is not tied up with being priests. He asked whether there is a role for deacons where it is not assumed that they are going to go on to being ordained priests.

The Revd Sarah Gillard–Faulkner described her experience as a deacon in the Church in Wales as being “a lone voice.”

The Revd Tony Schmitz spoke of a developing understanding in the Roman Catholic Church of “diakonia of altar, diakonia of word and diakonia of caritas.”

The Porvoo Contact Group meets in October, and the a similar seminar be called in Edinburgh again in preparation for the Porvoo Consultation in Dublin in March 2013.


Anglican participants at the Edinburgh consultation on the diaconate (from left): Canon Patrick Comerford, Revd Frances Hillier, Revd Sarah Gillard–Faulkner, Bishop–elect John Armes and Ms Elspeth Davey, Church Relations Officer of the Scottish Episcopal Church