There are people who “work behind the scenes” at every church to handle its functions and operations. Most of their efforts and numerous hours are unknown and unnoticed. One such group are the deacons and deaconesses, called to a ministry of service and following Jesus’ example of meeting people’s physical needs and then their spiritual ones.
While traditional roles have generally included greeting and ushering, church property maintenance, security, baptism, and communion assistance, and caring for the physical necessities of the congregation, many churches have expanded the role to use their spiritual gifts. It can become a ministry tending to the emotional and social needs of the church.
Deacons and deaconesses have joined pastors and elders visiting church members and those in need and are a place of support in the cycle of life and death. And, with the demands on today’s pastors’ time and energy, they have become a support team for those who have given so much to tend to God’s children. And this legacy of service and support is being passed onto the next generation of church leaders.
At Littleton Seventh-day Adventist Church, junior deacons and deaconesses have been called into action in the ministry of service. At each Sabbath service, the junior team works along side the adult team. Wandee Kirkland, head deacon at Littleton Church, recalls watching his father act as deacon in the Potomac Conference as a youth in the church. His father’s example set the path for his leadership role as he became an adult and a father.
He shared this about his time as a deacon: “Anyone can be a deacon. It is just about service and doing God’s work. It is, however, more than just a title, collecting offerings, and setting up events. It’s meeting the needs of the congregation and church staff. The pastoral staff are the shepherds, and we are the sheep dogs. My two sons, Turi and Didrik, are junior deacons at the church, and I am proud to watch them heed the call of service.”
The Kirklands are not the only ones sharing the family legacy of service. Deacon duties for select Sabbaths are held by Chris Fritz and his son Owen and Gary Treft and his son Spencer.
Chris Fritz shared this when asked what his time as deacon has meant to him: “It has created a community of men in the church that may have never connected otherwise.” He has involved his son to get him active in the church and learn responsibility.
Gary Treft, when asked the same question, said, “My gifts are not to be upfront but to help out as I can.”
The impact of the duty is not just felt by the adults. Littleton Church junior deacon Turi Kirkland said, “There are always things going on in the church that need help from junior deacons. I feel proud to help and not just be a spectator.” Turi shares the junior deacon role with is younger brother Didrik who said, “What I like most is that I am doing something to help that God would like rather than me just running around with my friends.”
Junior deacon Owen Fritz said, “I like to be there and help. It’s fun to count the money.” When asked what his favorite part of deacon duty was, Spencer Treft said, “My favorite part is cleaning up.”
We are reminded in 1 Corinthians 12:12 that “For even as the body is one yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” We give gratitude to those who have heeded the call, both young and older, to be this part of the body of Christ working toward the common goal of the church of making disciples of Jesus Christ.