By the Rev. Becky Jones
I haven’t been this excited for our parish since our choir debuted. We’re getting a deacon!
By now, many of you know Joe Mazza. He and his wife, Carol, have been worshipping with us for over a month now. But you may NOT have known that he’s a vocational deacon. He and Carol moved from Florida to Westminster in the fall to be nearer to a certain young grandson, and for most of that time they’ve been worshipping at Holy Comforter in Broomfield. But Joe began to miss actively serving as a deacon, so he approached the bishop about getting assigned to a parish.
The bishop told Joe to look around, visit some churches, and see if he found a place he might like. That’s what he did. Then, one Sunday he and Carol visited St. James, and Joe knew in his heart that his search was over. This was the place he wanted to come.
We couldn’t be luckier to get him. EVERY parish needs a deacon, but there simply aren’t enough to go around. I’m very grateful that the bishop has agreed to Joe’s request to come to St. James, because parishes many times our size have been waiting for years, and still don’t have a deacon. It’s testament to the hospitality and vibrancy of St. James that we have been able to attract one.
The role of the deacon is quite different from the role of the priest. Joe’s main job is to serve outside the church, to bring the cares and concerns of the world back to the church, and to carry Christ’s love out into the world. Joe will be a prod to us. He will prick our conscience. He will open our eyes. He will help every member of our parish live into our own baptismal vows to seek and serve Christ in all persons, and to respect the dignity of every human being.
He will also help to be the face of St. James in our community, representing us and taking some of us with him to various gatherings, so we can come to better understand just what the true needs are in our community, and how St. James can help to meet those needs.
Joe will begin serving at the altar this coming Sunday. The deacon’s role in the liturgy is to proclaim the Gospel, to bid the faithful to confess their sins, to set the table, to serve at Holy Communion, and to offer the dismissal. He will also preach regularly, probably monthly. He’ll take over the training and scheduling of Eucharistic Visitors. And his special mission is to revitalize our men’s group.
As a deacon, Joe’s ministry is non-stipendiary – meaning we don’t pay him! Nor does he answer to me or to the vestry. He answers to the bishop. Deacons truly are special ministers in the church.
Please join me in welcoming Joe and Carol into our midst. God continues to bless this parish, in ways large and small. And this? Blessings don’t get much larger than this. Thanks be to God.