My Beloved the benevolent,
Grace and peace wishing you every goodness and blessing.
I would like to congratulate you on the Pentecost Feast and the beginning of the Apostle’s Fast.
The period of the Apostle’s Fast is a time that reminds us of the model of service which the first church presents, especially during the age of our fathers, the Apostles.
One of the distinctive services that the church of the Apostles offers is the ministry of Deaconship. The word Deacon originally is a Greek word which, in the New Testament, meant serving the tables and serving the needy, and the Apostles appointed Deacons for this service.
The fist church at the time of the Apostles cared for the needs of the believer as a whole. The book of Acts describes the life of the church at the time of the Apostles, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” [Acts 2:42-45]
Life of fellowship was a characteristic in the life of the church. The basis for a life of fellowship is a new life in Christ who gave the believers, through Him, a new nature, to be united with Him through communion which is the breaking of the bread as the Book of Acts describes it. Life of fellowship, or Kenonia, extended to include every aspect of the life of the believers. This is why it says in the Book of Acts, “They had all things in common” The life of fellowship extended to material things, therefore the Book of Acts added, “sold their possessions and goods and divided them among all as anyone had need” The service of distributing things according to people’s needs was the service of Deaconship. Deaconship was established on the basis of fellowship among the believers, it is not simply a social service or humanitarian service, but a spiritual service based on the life of fellowship in Christ. As all the believers have communion in the Body and Blood of the Lord, they have fellowship in material gifts that God granted them.
Deaconship service started to evolve in different ways according to needs. At the beginning, the Apostles started to distribute according to need, “Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.”[Acts 4: 34-35]
Deaconship service used to be done through the fathers, the Apostles; the rich would bring the proceeds of their possessions and lay them at their feet, and this would be distributed according to need. But the service evolved because of some weaknesses; not all who sold their land did it with a pure heart, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, and the expansion of the service led to complaints, “Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows wee neglected in the daily distribution.” [Acts 6:1] The Apostles dealt with this by appointing a rank for Deaconship. The Apostles cared about the qualities that qualifies a person for this rank because the Apostles considered the Deaconship service as a spiritual service that expressed the life of fellowship. So they said to the disciples, “Therefore brethren seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.”[Acts 6:3] We see St. Stephen as an example of being filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom.
The ministry of Deaconship is an essential service in the pastoral care of the church; therefore we hold a special division in the Diocese for the ministry of Deaconship in which a Bishop’s helper takes the responsibility to deepen the ministry of Deaconship in every church in the Diocese.
May the Lord ignite your hearts to the Deaconship service so that no one among us would be in need.
May the Lord bless your offering to support St. Verena Charity Programs.