United Methodist Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner
While the Office of Deaconess has been a part of the Methodist tradition since 1888, the Office of Home Missioner was established at the 2004 General Conference providing lay men with an opportunity to serve in a life-time relationship in The United Methodist Church. This has been the first opportunity for lay men to be in an official life-time relationship in ministry since the closing of the option of Diaconal Minister by the 1996 General Conference. The Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner is the only currently active recognized office in The United Methodist Church for those called to full-time vocations in servant ministries as laity.
United Methodist Deaconesses and Home Missioners follow the following mandates which are set forth in the United Methodist Book of Discipline:
a) Alleviate suffering;
b) Eradicate causes of injustice and all that robs life of dignity and worth;
c) Facilitate the development of full human potential; and
d) Share in building global community through the church universal.
Deaconesses and Home Missioners are consecrated by a bishop to a lifetime of service under the authority of the church. Their ministries may be in a church-related vocation or helping profession. Current ministries include but are not limited to issues related to prison, environment, refugees, immigration, health care, education, homelessness, women and children, youth and families, senior adults, peace with justice, and a wide variety of church and community ministries.
Together, deaconesses and home missioners form a covenant community that is rooted in scripture, informed by history, driven by mission, ecumenical in scope and global in outreach.
Two major accomplishments occurred for the Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner since our last DOTAC gathering. At the 2016 General Conference, the office of Deaconess and Home Missioner officially became recognized as an Order of the church. At this same General Conference, they also gained ecclesiastical support for those who work in chaplaincy.
While the United Methodist Church is struggling as a denomination, the Order of Deaconess and Home Missioner continues to grow. Deaconesses and Home Missioners are facing new challenges with the uncertainty of the future of the UMC. In these current times, the United Methodist Church is anything but united. However, the Order of Deaconess and Home Missioner is committed to living into their calls to love, justice and service and will continue to be a diverse community for all laity to serve.