Methodist diaconal order
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In the Methodist Church of Great Britain, deacons are members of a permanent order called the Methodist Diaconal Order (MDO). The MDO is therefore both a religious order and an Order of Ministry, or in other words, an order of Clerks Regular.
One distinctive feature of the Methodist ecclesiology is that a deacon has a permanent ministry as a deacon. It is seen as an equal but offering something different from that of the presbyteral ministry.
Unlike the position in the Roman Catholic Church, and formerly in the Church of England, in the Methodist Church the term deaconess simply means a female deacon, and is not distinct from the male order.
History of the Order
Wesleyan Deaconesses and the Wesley Deaconess Order were founded by the Rev. Thomas Bowman Stephenson in 1890. Deaconesses began to work overseas from 1894 following a request for a deaconess to serve in South Africa. The Conference of the Methodist Church of 1998 admitted all existing members of the Methodist Diaconal Order into Full Connexion.
Form of address
Formerly, deaconesses were addressed as Sister, but since the admission of men to the order, and once it became an order of ministry as well as a religious order all members are now called "deacon". Other titles such as "sister" may still be used in a local situation, but is not the official title. The term "deaconess" is no longer used."
There is no formal uniform of a Methodist deacon, some deacons may decide to wear what is regarded as ‘traditional dress’ for the MDO – a navy blue suit and a white shirt of blouse, particularly for formal occasions, whilst others may feel that they would prefer to wear the polo shirts and sweat shirts commissioned by the MDO particularly if the circumstances are less formal. Deacons are permitted to wear Clerical Shirts, however these must be navy blue or white and they must wear the diaconal order badge they were presented with at their Ordination.
Deacons wear the cross of the MDO, given at their ordination.
- "History of the MDO". Retrieved 8 October 2012.
- Graham, D., Relations between the Wesley Deaconess Order and the Missionary Society, accessed 26 December 2016
- Constitutional Practice and Discipline of the Methodist Church [of Great Britain], 2016