OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries

Helping to Train, Encourage &
Connect Deacons
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

The Latest

NDS IV Postponed to June 9-11, 2022

Special Notice!

Due to ongoing restrictions and uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee on Diaconal Ministries has regretfully decided to postpone the National Diaconal Summit IV, scheduled to take place June 10-12, 2021 in Wheaton, Illinois.

The primary reason for this decision is that ongoing state restrictions in Illinois, which forbid indoor gatherings of more than 50 people, will not be modified or lifted until an effective vaccine for the virus can be developed and widely distributed. Given the uncertainty of an effective vaccine being produced and distributed before the summer of 2021, and given the need for speakers and participants to make travel plans months ahead of the this Summit, the CDM believes the current year’s plan is no longer feasible. After considering various other possibilities, the CDM has decided to postpone the event and reschedule for the summer of 2022. The Committee has tentatively reserved June 9-11, 2022 for NDS IV and is working toward confirming the plenary and workshop speakers’ availabilities.

The CDM extends its sincere apology for this inconvenience. Many officers over the years have expressed a deep desire to attend these rich lectures, workshops and unique times of fellowship, which is why the CDM will be doing the best they can to resume in 2022.

In the meantime, please make use of the videos from previous summits to enrich your work as servants of the Lord. There is so much wonderful content in them and we would be pleased if you would use them for the benefit of your congregations and the glory of the Lord.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the CDM: diaconalministries@opc.org.


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Meet Your Fellow Deacons: Redeemer OPC, Charlotte, NC

Matt Browning says, “I’ve lived in Charlotte for fourteen years now, and am a practicing “Mad Scientist”. Cassie and I met at Redeemer about ten years ago, and we’ve had two kids there, Jack and Lucie. Well, we didn’t actually have them at the church. They were born in a hospital, much like normal children. Lately, we’ve been pretty involved with the homeschool community among the reformed churches in the area. We enjoy gardening together, cultural warfare, and driving incredible distances to visit family during the holidays. 

I love getting to serve our church families in simple things like moving house or helping with home repairs. Building a Christian community and culture is so important, and getting down to some physical work together is a great way to build community, especially for dudes who need something to do. The quality time of physical service is its own reward! I also really love teaching kids’ Sunday school and generally organizing our Sunday school program. It has given many adults a chance to get involved where otherwise they’d be somewhat on the sidelines. 

A kind or encouraging word to a brother or sister can do much more than one might think. So can little things like dropping off a meal just to give a mom a break, or grabbing lunch with a brother. Time is usually more valuable than money. If there’s not a fire that needs putting-out right now, look for the little opportunities to encourage. Also, get your wife involved in your service. She’s a better cook than you.

Matt Posvar has been a deacon at Redeemer OPC since the summer of 2005. He grew up in the RPCNA and the OPC was always close by with school friends being at the OPC church in his town. He says he has always enjoyed helping others, sometimes to the detriment of his own family and duties at home. Being a deacon for over 15 years now has helped him to learn to balance those things and also to learn to allow others to serve in areas that he no longer can.
 
Matt was drawn to the local diaconate because he desired to serve the body in any way he could. This started out at first with more physically-oriented service that was easily visible as sure and obvious needs. He tells us, “It has been a joy to continue to do those things and to ‘wait tables’ so that the session can do their work, but I do greatly enjoy the more spiritual side of it, too.” He looks forward to broadening the focus to those outside of the church as the deacons grow in their outreach to those in need in their community.

Matt is grateful for the work of their diversely skilled diaconate and the love they have for their congregation. He has learned to be more compassionate in general, and especially when it comes to others’ needs. It is easy to go about your own work and to not see others in need or suffering around you. Matt explains, “Forcing myself out of my comfort zone to reach out to others has been wonderful and has been a true blessing to be on the receiving end, as well. It’s wonderful to be able to be an extension of Christ to the Body despite the weakness and imperfect nature of this feeble extension.”

David Vogel has been a deacon at Redeemer since 2015, and tells us, “My wife grew up in the OPC, but I have a varied church background. I met Leah at Redeemer and married her a couple of years before I became a deacon. We have two little girls and I’m a third-year student at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s M.Div. program. I hope to become a pastor upon graduation. Serving as a deacon played an important part in my feeling a call to ministry.”

David believes the greatest strength of the men he serves with is their godliness and humility, “They truly exhibit the requirements of 1 Tim. 3 in their lives, and it is a joy to work together with them to serve the church. When we have a difficult case, I am confident it will be handled with prayer, patience, and diligence.” 

“Our community is largely upper-middle class, so we don’t have much natural exposure to many types of need which can provide a field for fruitful diaconal service. We are also all relatively young men with families, which helps in some ways but also means we’re consistently busy and our biggest limitation is usually our own time.”

David believes the biggest lesson is to be proactive about the big picture and to go slow on details—not to wait for trouble to develop. He hopes deacons will be aware, and have conversations before the crisis comes, if possible. However, once you’re having the conversation, take time to listen and don’t make assumptions. He admits, “Not saying I do this well yet, but I hope I’m learning!” 

The biggest encouragement to David has been a sense of caring for Christ’s bride during times of real need and feeling His help and blessing as he does so. He adds, “Being a deacon has given me a greater sense of connection to the church, as well as a greater love for her.”


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Ministering During Covid in the Developing World

What has it been like living during COVID-19 in Uganda? When the first cases arrived at the beginning of April, the president locked the country down tight. We had a curfew from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am. All public transport was shut down: buses, taxi’s and boda-boda’s (motorcycle taxis). All private transport without a permit was banned by the RDC (like the county sheriff). All schools were closed. All businesses were closed down unless they were essential—basically only grocery stores and farm supply stores. The regions looked like ghost towns. Public worship was banned from April to October.   

Like most, after a few months of this, we were really feeling cooped up but we continued our work at the mission. We continued the farm project, though scaled down quite a bit. Maintenance continued, though it was difficult to get supplies. For a few months, we gathered with the Robbins family for worship on Sunday mornings and with the Folkerts on Sunday evenings. After the Robbins left for furlough we gathered with a few families from the church in the village. This turned out to be a sweet time of fellowship and was encouraging to see the desire of the church members for the fellowship of the saints.  
As time went on, the government realized that this kind of lockdown was unsustainable economically. The virus had been contained to a few hundred people. Things have slowly opened up and many things are back to normal even as COVID-19 is spreading throughout the country.

One of the things the mission has been able to do is buy radios to hand out with recorded sermons, songs, and scripture. This has been a tool to penetrate into the villages and reach people with whom we would not normally be able to reach. Some of the church members have produced some new songs based on the Psalms and have recorded them for the radios as well. We are very thankful for the Lord’s goodness to us in all these trials, reminding us that he is still King and still in control, working salvation for his elect. We are thankful to be His hands and feet in such a time as this!


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