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Deacons & Diaconal Ministers

25th Anniversary of UMC Deacons

The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church (UMC) joins congregations and communities around the globe in honoring the 25th Anniversary of the Order of Deacon in the UMC. Established in 1996, deacons are called to the ministry of serving those on the margins of society, to witness to the Word in their words and actions, and to embody and lead the community’s service in the world for the sake of enacting God’s compassion and justice.

The 25th Anniversary of the Order of Deacon celebration is a collaboration of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, the Deacon Order Chairs Planning Group and GBHEM. Included in the festivities are three events and a service of worship during April 2021. All events will be held virtually via Zoom.

Please unite with your fellow deacons and other celebrants in this joyous occasion. To register for any or all of the four events, visit the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and click on the “Register Now” button.


Deacons are clergy leaders who are called by God, authorized by the church and ordained by a bishop to a lifetime ministry of word, service, compassion and justice. Deacons exemplify Christian discipleship, nurture others in their relationship to God and lead church people to respond to the needs of the needy, neglected and marginalized of the world.

In the congregation, deacons teach, preach, officiate at funerals and weddings, offer pastoral care, assist the elder in administering Baptism and Holy Communion, lead discipleship development ministries and help lay people identify and claim their own ministries. Deacons lead the congregation in its servant ministry and equip and support all baptized Christians in their ministry. Through the Order of Deacons, The United Methodist Church affirms this historic, central and distinct ministry.

Outside the walls of the church, deacons share the good news in word and in their advocacy for the poor, neglected, oppressed and discouraged; provide ministries of mercy; and invite Christians into these ministries.

Deacon Conference Membership

United Methodist deacons are clergy members of an annual (regional) conference and have the rights of voice and vote in the clergy session and the annual conference where they hold membership. They serve as clergy on boards, commissions or committees of the annual conference. They can hold office within their annual conference and are eligible for election as a clergy delegate to the general, central or jurisdictional conferences. They are to participate in the life of the order of deacons in their conference.

Diaconal Minister

Diaconal ministers are United Methodist laypeople who lead in service ministries. The United Methodist Church no longer consecrates new diaconal ministers. However, many diaconal ministers are still in active service. If you are a diaconal minister, visit this section of the Board of Ordained Ministry Handbook for information on how you relate to the annual conference

If you feel called by God to be a layperson in a ministry of love and justice, check out the Office of Deaconess & Home Missioner.

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