Coming Together as Deacons: NDS IV 2022

photo by OPC Member, Katie Plas

As many of you know, the OPC National Diaconal Summits have always been an exciting time for the OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries. This year was no different. Nearly 200 men (deacons, deacons-in-training, elders, and pastors) traveled to Wheaton, Illinois for our fourth National Diaconal Summit, June 2-4. The purpose of the Summit is straight-forward: training, encouragement, and refreshment to strengthen the brotherhood of deacons. I had the unique privilege of attending the Summit, as the OPC CDM’s Communications Coordinator. 

The Summit agenda gave time for instruction during plenary sessions and then again in small group workshops. Mealtimes, where men sat with other deacons from their presbyteries and end-of-the-day free time allowed for men to get to know one another in a casual setting. The entire experience has proven in the past to be a unique one. But this conference isn’t just about formal learning. It’s about building comradery, deepening relationships, and finding there is diaconal strength in numbers. 

On Friday evening, I had the amazing opportunity to fall into a lengthy conversation with deacon Rob Moser, a warm, well-spoken, unassuming man from Grace and Peace OPC in California, MD. I knew Rob, or at least I thought I did. I had met him via Zoom when his local church reached out to OPC Disaster Response for a member of their church, whose house had flooded and needed repair. But now was an opportunity to talk face to face. 

After sitting down in a lounge area in Fischer Hall on the Wheaton College campus, Rob readily shared with me the tragic story of his only son who died from a heroin overdose. He’s surprisingly open about it, in the hopes that others can be encouraged, but admittedly, I was caught off-guard. Rob described the battle with their son over his addiction as being exhausting, both physically and financially. He related the years of torment and then the tragic end, where his son was found on the couch, in their home. The battle was finally over, but in its wake, left unimaginable pain for his wife, his daughter and him. Throughout this tumultuous time, Rob was open with his church, and they supported the Mosers, in love and in prayer. 

It’s been six years of grief now, but Rob, through the sadness, seems uniquely energized by what has happened. He knows the Lord has sustained and grown him. This tragedy has, by God’s grace, allowed him to reach out in a distinctive way in an area of town near his home, known for drugs and deep desperation. Rob recounted how he met a young woman hanging around a store, begging for money. He got her something to eat and she quickly confided in him that she was an addict, that she wanted very badly to get help, and added, “you probably wouldn’t understand.” Of course, Rob knew all too well and God was using Rob’s story to open a door. 

The woman explained that she had a job interview coming up and needed proper clothes. He offered to take her to the store, and stressed that it was, “in the name of Jesus.” He explained that the money for the clothes (and the meal she had just eaten) would come from his church. She was receptive and even expressed interest in attending church with him the next day. Sadly, Rob never saw her after that night, even after some searching. He’s encouraged to know that a seed had been planted. 

As I listened, I realized, this kind of conversation can’t happen remotely. It made me thankful for Rob’s openness and the reminder that the Lord uses all our challenges for His good. This is one big part of what the Summit is about, and I imagined conversations something like this happening frequently over those three days.

The Summit ended on Saturday, after lunch and some final goodbyes. Mine and Rob’s included. 

Please pray with the CDM that that the deacons who attended were encouraged and readied for the challenges of their Kingdom work in the local church, and that long-term relationships were begun.

 


Read more...

A New Podcast: The Reformed Deacon

By Trish Duggan

In November 2021, the Committee on Diaconal Ministries (CDM) launched a podcast focused on the office of deacon, called The Reformed Deacon. It was developed with the local Reformed deacon in mind: to help train him, to encourage camaraderie with other deacons, and to educate a greater audience on the role of the deacon. Episodes will include interviews of local deacons, elders, pastors, authors, and others with relevant experience. The podcast will also share case studies and dig into topics often complex or misunderstood. 

The Office of Deacon 

Perhaps you have heard one or more of the following in your church: I can’t hear the preacher—I’m not sure his mic is even on! I’m sure one of the deacons will get to it. Or, I know that family isn’t really making ends meet. I’ll be sure to mention it to one of the deacons. Or, We don’t have enough chairs set up for Sunday school. I’ll let the deacons know. Or, We’re moving next week. I’ll ask the deacons for help. 

The local deacon’s role can sometimes seem to be a kind of catch-all for many of the physical needs of the church, from managing church facilities to aiding a needy family to everything in between. Further complicating their work can be its sensitive nature, along with complex family situations, distrust from those both inside and outside the church, and even dishonest requests for help. This office requires great wisdom! 

In addition, many OPC deacons may be serving their congregation alone, without the benefit of a colleague to commit to regular times of counsel and prayer. Some diaconates are small and spread thin, with somewhat unclear tasks. So what exactly is a deacon’s job, and how can he be better supported in it? 

Supporting Deacons through a Podcast 

The CDM continues to recognize the need to support the local deacon in his God-appointed work, and it prayerfully strives to meet that need. A unique aspect of the CDM’s approach is its great desire to see local deacons supported not only by the committee, but also by one another. There are, after all, nearly one thousand deacons in the OPC, representing hundreds of years of experience! 

Over the years, the CDM has organized gatherings primarily for deacons (three national summits to date and another one in June 2022) and developed training materials, a resource website (OPCCDM.org), a newsletter (The Mercy Minute), and a deacon check-in program (where deacons are partnered in order to take intentional time to talk one on one and are given counsel and financial support). 

And now, there is a podcast, too. 

In its first episode, Tim Hopper, a deacon at Shiloh OPC in Raleigh, North Carolina, said that he reminds himself often that deacons, too, need to sit at Jesus’s feet. “It’s easy for me to be doing things and staying busy,” he said, “and I’m good at making my lists and getting things done, but that’s what Martha was doing, and our Lord told her she needs to sit at his feet . . . My wife often asks, ‘Are you getting to hear the sermon?’” 

In another episode, Dr. Cornelis Van Dam explained that he wrote his book The Deacon: Biblical Foundations for Today’s Ministry of Mercy because, when he was a pastor, newly ordained deacons would ask for resources on the diaconate. “That question always kind of bugged me,” Van Dam said, “because I didn’t think there was a good holistic treatment of the office.” 

Deacons, this podcast is for you, and the CDM hopes you will benefit by listening. For those who are not deacons, the podcast may allow you to better understand and support your local deacons in their work. When you are able, remember to pray for the deacons and elders in your church as they fulfill their calling. They are likely doing more than what you see on Sunday! 

Look for The Reformed Deacon wherever you listen to podcasts. We’d love to hear from you. What topics would you like to hear on this podcast? Go to: opccdm.org/podcast-feedback or email us at mail@thereformeddeacon.org. Find show notes and links at thereformeddeacon.org. 

The author is communications coordinator for the CDM. 


Read more...

Administrator David Nakhla Interviewed on “Christ the Center” Podcast

David Nakhla was interviewed by Rev. Camden Bucey on his podcast, “Christ the Center”, released September 24. Joined by Rev. Adam York, the three talked about the diaconate, refugee ministry, disaster response, short-term missions and the upcoming diaconal summit. Check it out on the Reformed Forum website or on your favorite podcast provider.


Read more...
^