What do a Deacon do?

Anglican Priest wearing an alb, cincture, and purple Deacon's stole.

Anglican Priest wearing an alb, cincture, and purple Deacon's stole.

Well, in the ELCA Lutheran tradition, the position was originally called a “Deacon.”  Then it was renamed to a “Assisting Minister,” then to a “Liturgist.”  Our church still calls them Deacons.  We wear the traditional alb, cincture, and stole of a Deacon as in the Roman and Anglican churches.  The general outline of a Deacon’s job at worship services is as follows:

  1. Light the candles.
  2. Greet the congregation and read the announcements.
  3. Chant a Kyrie responsively with the congregation.
  4. Lead the congregation in a Hymn of Praise.
  5. Read the lessons from the Holy Scriptures.
  6. Read or Chant the Psalmody responsively with the congregation.
  7. Offer prayers of intercession.
  8. Assist the Presiding Minister at baptisms.
  9. Receive the offering and hand it to the Presiding Minister.
  10. Lead the congregation in the offertory prayer.
  11. Set the table for communion.
  12. Serve communion to the Presiding Minister.
  13. Assist the Presiding Minister in serving communion.
  14. Clear the table.
  15. Offer a post-communion prayer.
  16. Dismiss the congregation.

Things a Deacon doesn’t do in the normal course of a worship service:

  1. Bless people or things.
  2. Offer any of the sacraments.
  3. Give a sermon.
  4. Lead the congregation in the affirmation of faith.
  5. Greet the congregation in the apostolic tradition.
  6. Read from the Gospels.

#2 can be done by any lay person designated by the pastor as long as (a) the Pastor has consecrated the elements of communion beforehand.  This is commonly done when volunteers take communion to homebound members.  #3 – 6 are sometimes done by a lay person when the Pastor is out of town like yesterday.  But since a Deacon is not an ordained minister in the ELCA church, he or she cannot consecrate the elements of communion, bless the congregation, or officiate baptisms.



  1. #1 by Phillip on January 9, 2011 - 9:34 PM

    I’ve never actually been to a church service with Deacons. As a matter of fact, nearly every funeral I’ve been to where there was a service at the wake, that was presided over by a priest. My gramma’s happened to have a Deacon, but that may have been because he went to school with her.

    • #2 by Joshua on January 10, 2011 - 7:30 AM

      I’ve never served as a Deacon at a funeral. That usually falls to our Archdeacon, Brother John Bennethum. He’s had lots more experience and he’s retired so he can make the daytime funerals more easily than the other deacons can.

  2. #3 by Joshua on January 10, 2011 - 7:26 AM

    And would people quit telling me I should go to seminary? People somehow think I would make a good pastor. I don’t think I would and I enjoy what I do right now. So no. I’m not going to go to seminary. Sorry to disappoint.

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