Meet Your Fellow Deacons
 
This series is featured in our quarterly e-newsletter, “The Mercy Minute“.  
If you would like to see your diaconate featured, please contact Sarah Klazinga.
 

Meet Your Fellow Deacon: Jack Frahm

Meet Jack Frahm, Deacon, Covenant OPC, San Jose, CA

Jack Frahm admits that some aspects of being a deacon are a struggle for him. Sitting down to talk to people is outside of his comfort zone. “I’ve really had to grow as a deacon by taking the time to build relationships with people—to actively listen. It’s so much easier for me to ask, ‘what’s the problem and how do I fix it? Let’s do it.’ And sometimes that’s not what’s called for. It’s more of a need for a shoulder to cry on.”

Jack has lived within 30 minutes of the same place for over 30 years—somewhat ironic, since in his teens he couldn’t wait to move away and explore! “I grew up in Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church on Leigh Avenue and lived a block away from the church. My parents’ house was just down the street so we would often walk to, church, and functions at the church and I remember thinking as a kid how I just couldn’t wait to get out of the Bay Area. I wanted to travel!” Obviously, God had other ideas.

Growing up, Jack admittedly gave his parents a run for their money; adopted when he was five years old, he pushed the limits of his parents’ Christian, loving, guidance and at 18, Jack found himself in serious trouble with law enforcement. His father reassured him, “You’re my son, and we’re not going to abandon you.” That was a turning point in Jack’s life—a pivotal moment. Soon after, Jack made a public profession of faith at 20 years old. Jack married his wife, Michelle, 25 years ago and they have three children, Caleb, Ethan and Grace; the boys in college and Grace, a senior in high school.

Jack has been serving as a deacon for nearly ten years at Covenant OPC, San Jose, California. Even before officially being ordained as a deacon, he felt drawn to helping, “[Going] to the church workdays, helping to clean up after committee meetings, ushering, doing all the different little things that you can [to] help at church and then an elder comes along and taps you on the shoulder, ‘have you ever considered being a deacon?’ And so it kind of just seems like a natural outflow of how I feel, that all church members should be relatively active with their local church. Doing things, helping in any way they can. I’m kind of a handyman; ‘Jack of all trades’. I often get teased because I’m mechanically inclined and if something is broken, I’d rather fix it, rather than throw it away. I think the gift that God has given me is wanting to fix things and a willingness to just jump in and figure it out.” 

Covenant OPC is no stranger to outreach in their community. For several years, the deacons at Covenant led the church in ministry to the downtown homeless community until lack of participation made it impossible to continue. Since then, the deacons then began leading the church toward working with a faith-based ministry called, CityTeam

Through CityTeam, Covenant OPC has adopted a low-income housing community in an apartment complex. Covenant supplies all the food for a year and the congregation hands out food in the hopes of creating some relationships. Jack and his diaconate is encouraged, “We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve had to turn some church folks away that want to help. We get 20 or so folks from our congregation who want to participate in the program. This ministry began during the pandemic, and like many other things, has been a challenge. The model for the program is a sort of marketplace where folks come down from their apartments, come through and pick things up from the table, offering an opportunity to interact and share the gospel. With the pandemic, we’ve had to alter and deliver boxes of food to apartments; ring a doorbell and wait the few minutes hoping that someone will come to the door while we’re there so that we can talk.” 

“The challenge has been in how to take it to that next level of making sure that the gospel is presented. Please pray that the opportunities continue to grow and continue to be fruitful. There are now other churches that want to partner with us to help at this food pantry, and if it gets to the point where we have 30 or so people, we may be able to open another pantry. We could possibly serve two different locations!”

Covenant’s four-man diaconate is made up of diverse backgrounds, which lends itself to healthy conversation and decision-making—even as meetings have been restricted to meeting virtually. Jack, Miguel Alvarado, Steve Trigero and Juan Valle don’t always agree, but Jack says they work well together and he’s thankful for them.

Jack has been encouraged in his diaconal service at the generosity of the congregation and their willingness to try to help folks. But Jack also admits, from time to time, he is more discouraged than encouraged, giving him an opportunity to pray for wisdom in how to better serve.


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Meet Your Fellow Deacons: Shiloh OPC, Raleigh, NC

 

Pictured: Shiloh Deacons: Leo Barcley, Brandon Gershman, Art Allen, Tim Hopper, McRay Simmons, Pete Tola

 

We asked a few of the deacons at Shiloh to share their thoughts about the diaconate. Here’s what they said:

Deacon Brandon Gershman has also been serving Shiloh OPC for about a year, and says that as a new deacon, this time has been incredibly sanctifying. He has been blessed by the godly example of his fellow deacons who have been serving longer and are showing him a deep compassion for God’s people. He is married to his wife Shasta and they have three children, Judah, Josie and Olive. Brendan says he was drawn to diaconal ministry because his family had been recipients of care by their deacons and saw how it affected their view of the church. “It opened my eyes to the fact that there are many people within Christ’s body who are poor and needy that we would never know are in that state. Deacons are able to approach people and ask questions in a way others are not.” Later he shares that he’s learning that “there are far more people hurting and needy than I ever suspected. Some have financial burdens but many have spiritual, emotional, and physical burdens that could easily go unaddressed. Christ, our prototypical deacon, sought these people out specifically, as we also should.” The diaconate at Shiloh offers financial education for its members, which Brandon sees as one of their strengths, along with quickly responding to those with obvious needs and direct and persistent interaction with those receiving assistance from the church. As a diaconate they continue to grow in ministering to the needs of the Session, reaching outside of the church to the needy and the stranger in the greater Raleigh area.

 

Deacon Art Allen has been married to his wife for twenty-five years, and they have one grown son. He has been serving Shiloh OPC for eleven months and shares that he sees that the Lord has gifted him with many abilities that seem compatible with diaconal ministry and that he loves working with his fellow officers in the church. When asked what is one of the greatest lessons he’s been learning in his time as a deacon, he says, “I think it’s very important to know your flock. Often there is limited time to interact, especially on the Lord’s Day so I try to make the most of these brief interactions to gauge where people are and find out what they may be dealing with, in order to help, if needed.”

 

Deacon McRay Simmons has served as a deacon in two OP churches for a combined total of sixteen years and says that one of the greatest joys of working as a deacon is seeing families changed by God’s grace. He and his wife are empty-nesters now, but have two grown children and ten grandchildren. He speaks warmly of the closeness of the brothers on the diaconate and of their unified desire to serve one another and the families they are called to minister to, sharing personally that, “As I have worked alongside my fellow deacons in serving others, the Lord has used those opportunities to show me my own sin and need for His grace and helped me focus on being an agent of His grace to others in more meaningful ways.” He desires growth in discernment with difficult situations where the best way of helping is not always clear. He shares that one of the ways that they are growing is in recognizing that there are very capable people in the congregation who are willing to serve if given the opportunity. “An example of that is the organization of our Safety Committee that was commissioned to put together a plan for nursery safety, evacuation plans for emergencies, etc. The members serving on that committee did an excellent job!”


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Meet Your Fellow Deacon, Faith OPC, Grants Pass, OR

Robert Kunda and his wife, Aja, grew up in Southern California. They met in middle school and were friends all through high school, getting married after Robert returned from a four-year stint in the US Marine Corps. They had two children while living in California, and then relocated to Oregon in 2013 where the Lord has blessed them with a daughter by birth, and just days ago, a daughter by adoption!

Robert has served on the diaconate at Faith OPC since 2019. He says that he was drawn to serving as a deacon because he desires to help the church in whatever way he can. For him, one of the greatest blessings of this office is having a front-row seat to members of the congregation as they serve and share in one another’s burdens—without the need of the diaconate. 

Robert serves alongside two other deacons at Faith OPC: Clyde Petty and Steve Carmack.


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