This year the West Ohio Conference joins The United Methodist Church and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Order of Deacon.
On this silver anniversary, we continue to share stories of deacons serving in West Ohio.
Living out the Call of a Deacon
Before being ordained a deacon, the Rev. Kara Jones felt a strong call to youth ministry. Jones is a youth minister for a collaborative ministry with three churches in Delaware, Ohio, including William Street United Methodist Church.
Jones is also the manager and pastor of Common Ground Free Store and a music teacher at a music store in Delaware.
In addition to day-to-day duties at Common Ground, Jones spends plenty of time listening to clients. She recalls a woman who became a client because she wanted to save money to create a safe home for her children. Using the free store for necessities was a big help. The woman told Jones, “You guys save lives.”
In the past, the Order of the Deacon was considered a step to becoming an elder. Today, it is clear it is a set-apart ministry outside the walls of the church to reach people where they are.
Many people felt the mental health toll of 2020 on their communities. Youth, for example, were forced to navigate abrupt changes in their lives. Jones responded and provided support to the young people. One day, Jones spent 10 hours delivering care packages to the homes of each member to remind them that they were loved.
Comprised of mostly white youth, the group was a safe place to discuss the social unrest after the George Floyd killing. Jones said, “It was an opportunity for work to be done; for white people to understand racial injustice and what we can do to work toward justice.” With safety protocols in place, the group participated in exercises to understand the meaning of privilege and perceptions of themselves in relation to those in a different socioeconomic background or race.
Asked if the mission of the deacon has changed since 2020, Jones said, “Our mission has not changed; we are still serving in the ‘in between.’ However, how we live out the mission has changed because the landscape has changed. COVID-19 has been quite a turbulent storm, leaving us lots and lots of ‘in-between’ ground to navigate! Same mission, adjusted and always adapting for the different terrain.”
Being a deacon is the core of who Jones is. “Being ordained is not about what I do,” she said. “It is about who I am and about how I live out my faith.”