ASSOCIATION FOR EPISCOPAL DEACONS
The Association for Episcopal Deacons is a member-funded association of persons and dioceses in The Episcopal Church whose mission is to increase participation and involvement of all baptized persons in Christ’s diaconal ministry, especially by promoting and supporting the diaconate. AED began in 1986, following the revision of the Book of Common Prayer in 1979, in which the understanding of baptism and the diaconate were revised to bring them in line with the church in the first three centuries. AED began as the North American Association for the Diaconate and included Episcopal deacons as well as deacons in the Anglican Church of Canada. In 2013, the name was changed to the Association for Episcopal Deacons as the ACC deacons had created their own organization, which works very closely with AED.
Over the years AED has played a major role in the revival of the Episcopal diaconate as a full and equal order. In our denomination priests are required to be ordained as deacons before their priestly ordination and it used to be very unusual for person to live out his or her ordained ministry in the diaconal order. Now there are over 3000 “vocational” deacons in TEC. AED has worked on the creation of the canons governing and defining the formation and ministry of deacons and has provided support and community for deacons in The Episcopal Church.
The majority of Episcopal Deacons are not paid for their work in the church. Episcopal Deacons are bi-vocational, earning their livings outside the church and working inside the church to connect the church to the world. The job of a deacon is to speak to the church about the needs, concerns and hopes of the world.
Because there are so many deacons, AED has a strong focus on communication among members of our order. An extensive website shares news and resources. Monthly news updates by email are posted. A quarterly journal – Diakoneo – offers deacons reflective articles on the diaconate.
Every year diaconal leaders who are in charge of formation – which is based in each diocese rather than in a seminary – meet to discuss concerns and share resources and ideas. This group has created competencies which define the necessary skills fora deacon that can be used by any diocesan program.
in June, 2019 a triennial Diaconal Assembly was held in Providence, Rhode Island. 250 deacons were able to attend this four day event. Our keynote speaker was The Most Rev. Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.
Despite our challenges, the diaconate is growing in The Episcopal Church because our ministry touches the strong desire of many Christians and would-be Christians to do Christ’s work of service in the world. The call of AED is to encourage, engage and enable that growth.