Ever since I was about 10 or 11, people have said to me that I should think about becoming either a priest or a deacon, and to this day I have never been able to figure out why. Now what is strange with this is that not many Black youth are told this. Just recently I was told by Deacons in this diocese that I should go to the School for Deacons and become a deacon. I just don't get what people see in me. Let me go back in time.
My parents bought a house in another area of Philadelphia. We had continued to attend the same congregation, but for some reason unknown to me they decided that it was time to find a church that was closer to home. There were two congregations not to far away. We went to one congregation and my parents I discovered later really liked it. Then the next Sunday we went to the other one. During service some people came and got my sister and I and took us to Sunday School. While we were in our classes, they had us sign some stuff. Now being the age that I was, I really didn't have a clue as to what we were signing, but it turned out that we had signed up for Sunday School. We told our parents after church what we had filled out, and they said that they guess we are going to church here now. Now that I think about it, I have a feeling that they were upset at what had happened, but they didn't express it (thanks mom and dad.)
I had noticed two clergy people at the church during service, and as far as I knew they were both priest, as I don't recall ever hearing the term Deacon before. As we were sitting there one Sunday, my father leaned over and for some reason explained that one was the priest and the other a Deacon. He then explained the two roles to me, and said that I should think about becoming one and that I should strongly consider the role of a Deacon. I think that at this point I had wanted to become a cop like one of my grandfathers was, but never a clergy person. I thought about it for a while, but because I really didn't understand the role of the Deacon, I put it out of my head.
On the day that I was confirmed, after service and some prodding from my parents, I walked up to the Bishop and asked him to sign the Bible that my parents had bought me as a gift (I still have that Bible to this day.) We spoke for a minute, then he said that I should think about becoming a Deacon. I was 12 or 13 at that point, and wasn't quite sure what I wanted to be, but I told him that I would think about it.
Again and again I thought about the two roles as people kept saying that I should become a member of the clergy, but I just didn't get it. I wasn't feeling the need or desire to become one. When I moved to California, I heard it again at the congregation that I attended, but I came up with an excuse that brought me to an understanding that I had no interest. The Bishop's Committee choose the Deanery reps, and I was asked to be one. I said OK, and when I went to my first meeting and then the convention of the diocese I knew that even though becoming a member of the clergy would be something that I wouldn't be doing. Politics killed the thought of becoming a member of the clergy. I watched the politics that were going on, and I knew that I had no desire to be apart of it. I went back and stayed within the confines of my congregation.
Years went by, and people kept bringing up me becoming a clergy person over and over. Yes I have thought about it over and over, but I really didn't understand the role of the deacon. When I became a member of the Commission on Ministry, I gained a great understanding of the role. The more that I have learned and thought about it, the more that I think back on the first mention of it by my father. I wonder if someone had really explained the role of the Deacon in my teen years, would it of made a difference in my goals in life? Would I be ordained a deacon now? Oh there is no way for me to go back in time and have that happen, but I wonder.
Over the last few years the call for me to take on that role has been pushed on me more and more it seems. I sit and I wonder about it, “Should I do it, or should I not?”, “What difference would it make to me to become one?”, “Why should I even think about wearing a collar, and how would it help me in spreading the Gospel to the world?” So many questions, with so few answers.
I know that the one thing that this diocese needs more than priest are Deacons. We have such an overflow of priest that each congregation could have 3 of them, and we would still have extras around. But this, like many other diocese in the Episcopal Church have a large shortage of deacons. I wonder if I should become one and talk with teenagers about thinking of it as a career choice to do even though they will need to have a secular job?
I don't see myself as a Deacon or a priest, but I wonder what it is that people keep seeing in me to think that I should? Oh if I were to follow that path, it will be because it is what the people desire, and I will truly be raised by the community to that role, but why does the community of the diocese wish to see me in that role is something that I wonder. What talents and skills does the community see in me that will be a benefit to the world?
I remember being at ordinations a few years ago, and ArchDeacon Anthony Turney gave the sermon. He talked about the role of the deacon and a well known charity. He ended the sermon in a brilliant way, and it really related to what he talked about. he told the newly ordained deacons that they needed to got o Hell. I wonder if I am really to do that in order to help spread the Good News of the Holy Trinity? But I also wonder if you are willing to go there with me? I love being on the Commission on Ministry, but I wonder if me being on it was God's way of telling me to think about my path and what God wants me to do?