A Church of England working party says in a report* published this week that deacons are no longer essential to the Church, and proposesthat the diaconate should be discontinued.
The working party, formed by the Advisory Council of the Church's Ministry, says the abolition of the order of deacons would ultimately benefit the Church by making plain the importance of the work of all Christians in fulfilling the traditional diaconate function of service.
In answer to the view that the move would prejudice relations with the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, the report says the Church of England may be able to give a lead to other Churches with a diacbnate.
Deacons, says the report, are traditionally the lowest tier of the three-tier ministry of bishops, priests and deacons. At present the Church of England uses the diaconate as a sort of probationary priesthood, a stepping stone to full ordination.
The working party says deaconesses are no more than lay church workers, and should be recognised as such. It adds that biblical and traditional evidence for the order of deacons is not certain as has sometimes been thought, and that there is no -theological necessity for first ordaining future priests as deacons.
I Deacons in the Church (Church Information Office, Church House, London, S.W.I, 50p).
Editorial — P4.