On Sunday our congregation celebrated with Avis on becoming Deacon Emeritus. All churches have different traditions and Deacon Emeritus happens to be a rather unique tradition here at Colchester Federated Church. From our By-Laws we can read that Deacon Emeritus is an honorary position that has been granted to any member who has served on Diaconate and earned the title through honorable service over a period of years. Diaconate considers the nomination of a current Deacon, and if approved, that Deacon goes before the congregation at an Article V Meeting for a vote. Deacons Emeriti have all rights and privileges of a voting Deacon.
At one time in our church’s history, women could not be Deacons. I have heard stories over the years of men being Deacons and women being Deaconesses. As one older member (now deceased) told me, “We (Deaconesses) could prepare the elements for Communion. But the Deacons got to serve the congregation. Though we did get to clean up afterwards!” We both laughed (and rolled our eyes). Thankfully the church has made progress on this front.
Though it highlights all the more reason why it’s remarkable (when one really stops to think about it) that four of our five current Deacons Emeriti are women! We are grateful for the faithful service over the years of Avis, Jeannette, Dolores, Deborah, and John. (And my thanks to Susan Sanford for capturing this lovely picture of Avis, Jeannette, Dolores, and Deborah from the reception on Sunday).
Church traditions can be great. But even traditions change! If they didn’t, then some of these wonderful lay leaders, these faithful women who have served our congregation for many decades in some cases would not be recognized in this lovely way for their service. Because they wouldn’t have been Deacons in the first place. To me this all serves as a reminder that churches are at our best when we have roots in the past and arms wide open to where God is leading us next.
Photo by Susan Sanford.
Thursday Thoughts 5/19/22