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Thursday, February 17, 2005

Hey there! Hi there! Ho there! She's as happy as can be! In the d-i-a-c-o-n-a-l ministry!

A couple of Sundays ago I went up to Waverly to watch the service of consecration (or maybe Service of Consecration; I'm not sure if it's a proper noun or not) for my friend Jess. What, you ask, is consecration? I'm not 100% sure myself (other than knowing that it's not the same as circumcision - talk about your embarrassing malapropisms), but I'll try to explain. The Service of Consecration (or maybe service of consecration) is the process by which one becomes a diaconal minister in the ELCA. "Diaconal minister," if I understand correctly, is sort of a new designation. Obviously it's closely tied to the word "deacon," but I think that deacons are generally thought of as being basically Ernest Frye (the guy Sherman Hemsley (of Lois & Clark: the New Adventures of Superman fame) played in Amen): the guy who sets up chairs and makes sure the candle wicks are trimmed and generally takes care of the church building. Diaconal ministers have a much more interesting and exciting role. The idea (indeed, from what I've learned, the catchphrase) is that they serve where the church meets the world. While a pastor is ordained into the ministry of word and sacrament and generally serves a congregation in a role that's theoretically primarily spiritual and theological, a diaconal minister is consecrated into the ministry of word and service and generally ends up working with an organization, dealing with social justice issues and bringing the work of the church outside of the sanctuary walls.

At least that's my understanding of it - a lot of which is lifted directly from the sermon preached at Jess's consecration. Here's Jess's explanation from her blog, and here's an explanation from the ELCA web page, both of which are far more informative and lucid. It's interesting stuff, I think, and I find it very exciting. To me, this is a formal statement by the ELCA that we understand that the church can't stay inside church buildings and still do the work we're called to do. A diaconal minister has to jump through basically every hoop an ordained pastor has to - these aren't lay volunteers who are just using the church to find projects to work on, they're men and women with the same level of theological training and formal church support the clergy has. I think that's downright nifty, and I'm proud to be able to name a good friend of mine among their ranks.

It was a delightful weekend, too - several people I hadn't seen for years were in town for the consecratin', the sermon was based on Micah 6:8 which is the foundation verse for one of the finer campfire songs to ever grace the woods of southeast Clayton county (I've had the tune in my head pretty much ever since), and Dr. Kleinhans got a chance to make fun of me for how long I was a student at Wartburg, which always seems to make her happy. I find that almost any event which triggers Wartburg memories ends up being a lot of fun (it's a shame admissions can't sell that - that's what you pay the extra $15,000 a year for).

On an unrelated note - I'm not sure I got the "Hey, Hi, Ho" in the title of this post in the right order. I was, alas, never a Mouseketeer. Anyone more familiar with the tune who wants to correct or affirm me feel free.

Be affirmed.

A former Mouseketeer
Wow, you were really paying attention! This is a really compelling explanation of DM. Thanks for helping to get the word out. Woo-hoo!
I like the new color, Charlie. And the eye quote sure is... memorable. Your entries come up in REALLY BIG LETTERS on my bowser. :-)
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