On May 25, 2021, the Rev. Tracie Middleton, president of the Association for Episcopal Deacons, and deacon serving at Trinity Episcopal Church, Fort Worth, part of The Episcopal Church in North Texas, took part in “The Word and the World, The Preaching Role of Vocational Deacons,” a panel discussion presented by the CEEP Network and the Episcopal Preaching Foundation.
Other panelists were the Rev. Dr. William [Bill] Rich, vicar of Trinity Church Boston; the Rev. Kim Jackson, vicar of the Church of the Common Ground in Atlanta and Georgia state senator; and the Rt. Rev. William H. (Chip) Stokes, Bishop of the Diocese of New Jersey. The moderator was the Rev. Stephen Smith, dean of faculty at the Preaching Foundation.
In the description of the program, CEEP wrote, “The Vocational Episcopal Deacon is a sometimes under-recognized and under-utilized resource in our polity. The Church’s canon defining the vocational deacon’s role as prophet, interpreter, and catalyst for social change is not well known and some don’t perceive the great value the diaconate brings to the Church. Beyond simply providing relief for the priest or filling in for absent clergy, a deacon can lift up a different voice from the pulpit. Utilizing the deacon’s preaching skills expands the range of sermons the congregation hears and adds to the perspective of the Church at work in the world.
“The panelists in this workshop will discuss the benefits that accrue from greater diaconal access to the pulpit. The panel will also tackle some of the obstacles that still makes diaconal preaching a challenge in many placements. There will be time for comment and reflection from attendees. The CEEP Network is proud to partner with the Episcopal Preaching Foundation to present this important panel.”