The Reformed Deacon

PDS V 2023: Promoting and Encouraging Diaconal Work in Presbytery

May 16, 2024 a Podcast from the OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries Season 3 Episode 12
PDS V 2023: Promoting and Encouraging Diaconal Work in Presbytery
The Reformed Deacon
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The Reformed Deacon
PDS V 2023: Promoting and Encouraging Diaconal Work in Presbytery
May 16, 2024 Season 3 Episode 12
a Podcast from the OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries

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In this episode, Tim Hopper, a deacon at Shiloh OPC in Raleigh, North Carolina, chairman of the Presbytery of the Southeast Diaconal Committee and a member of the OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries reminds us that being a deacon doesn't stand on its own, but serves as part of Christ's church. Tim says it's good that we have presbytery and denominational diaconal committees to aid us in our service, but ultimately, Christ hasn't established and ordained these committees. He has instituted deacons primarily for service within the local church and we must  remember that's the greatest calling that they've been given. As a result, there is the opportunity, as members of our various committees, to serve and build up our local churches and local diaconates. In this session, Tim shares how that might be done through Presbytery Diaconal Committee

Referenced in this episode:

You can find all of our episodes at thereformeddeacon.org. Make sure to follow us on your favorite podcast player, so you don't miss an episode. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for giveaways and more information. Find other resources on OPCCDM.org. Make sure to send us some feedback on your podcast player or ask a diaconal question by going to OPCCDM.org.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What did you think? Text us!

In this episode, Tim Hopper, a deacon at Shiloh OPC in Raleigh, North Carolina, chairman of the Presbytery of the Southeast Diaconal Committee and a member of the OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries reminds us that being a deacon doesn't stand on its own, but serves as part of Christ's church. Tim says it's good that we have presbytery and denominational diaconal committees to aid us in our service, but ultimately, Christ hasn't established and ordained these committees. He has instituted deacons primarily for service within the local church and we must  remember that's the greatest calling that they've been given. As a result, there is the opportunity, as members of our various committees, to serve and build up our local churches and local diaconates. In this session, Tim shares how that might be done through Presbytery Diaconal Committee

Referenced in this episode:

You can find all of our episodes at thereformeddeacon.org. Make sure to follow us on your favorite podcast player, so you don't miss an episode. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for giveaways and more information. Find other resources on OPCCDM.org. Make sure to send us some feedback on your podcast player or ask a diaconal question by going to OPCCDM.org.

Tim Hopper:

Deacons don't have a natural system built in where they're seeing deacons from other churches. Deacons don't have something like Presbytery, where they're inevitably getting to know and fellowship with other brothers from other churches.

David Nakhla:

This is David Nakhla, administrator for the Committee on Diaconal Ministries. We're thankful for the opportunity to have you listen in on this session from the fifth OPC Presbytery Diaconal Summit, co-hosted by OPC Presbyterian Diaconal Summit, co-hosted by the OPC's Committee on Diaconal Ministries as well as Committee on Ministerial Care, held in Chicago just this past November. Although the content is primarily focused toward those serving on Presbyterian Diaconal Committees, I trust you'll find that many aspects of the talk will benefit local deacons with food for thought, even with inspiration that comes from thinking outside the box. We urge you to value yourself for the resources you'll hear about in this episode. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback and we hope that your work is blessed by the content that you hear. Now let's get into this next episode.

Tim Hopper:

Thank you, brothers, for having me here. This is my second time at Presbyterian Diaconal Summit, and the previous one I was not on the CDM, so I greatly benefited from the previous one in 2019, and I've been glad to be a part of helping prepare it. This time I'm here really fundamentally because I love Christ's church and I'm so grateful that he's called me to be a part of it. And because I love Christ's church, I love the government that he's established for his church and I love the offices that he's ordained for his church and, as a result, I love deacons and I've been privileged to be a deacon for 10 years now. But being a deacon doesn't stand just on its own, but it is part of being part of Christ's church and being part of the body and being part of what Christ has established for us, and I think it's good that we have Presbyterians and denominational committees to serve in these ways. But ultimately, christ hasn't established and ordained these committees, but he's given us each our own offices and the governments of our own congregations, and I think we need to remember that that's our greatest calling that we've been given and, as a result, I think we have an opportunity, as members of our various committees to serve and build up our local churches and local diaconates, and that's what I'm here to help try to share with you how you might do that through your Presbyterian Diaconal Committee. We live in an era that is, I think, in our Reformed churches, in the OPC and our sister denominations, we have strong emphasis on diaconates on the whole, I think, more than has been true at times historically, and I think that's a great thing for us to look to and be grateful for. There have been eras where the diaconates really languished in the 19th century. That happened significantly in Scotland and in the US. But I think then our opportunity is to just you know, have the momentum that's already started and be able to run with it and push it forward, and that's a good opportunity for us.

Tim Hopper:

I often, when I talk about diaconal things, like to share this quote from a Southern Presbyterian named RC Reid, who wrote for Union Seminary Magazine in 1903 about diaconates and the good that they can bring. He says To avoid friction between members, to promote happy pastorates, to develop the grace of liberality, nothing is more important than a good deacon, one who can be patient, one who can smile at unreasonable people and speak a soft word to turn away wrath, one who is willing to give time and take trouble on himself and make himself all things to all men in order to promote the interest of his master's cause. And I think that's been true for me in my own experience. There is an opportunity for diaconates, among other things, to promote peace and happiness in the congregation and that inevitably by the nature of if there's conflict, the session often is the one kind of in disagreement with people and deacons have an opportunity to promote peace in the congregation through those times. And I think there is to some degree an analogy that our presbytery diaconal committees have the opportunity to promote peace and unity across our presbyteries. I know the Presbytery of the Southeast is the only presbytery that's had any kind of conflict in recent years, but we have, and it's an opportunity for us as a committee to show the love of the presbytery to each congregation, even, as Mike alluded to earlier, love of the presbytery to each congregation, even, as Mike alluded to earlier, even at times, ministers who are under discipline, to show that their church, their regional church, still loves them even in those circumstances. So our proposed mandate that David went over includes this statement that presbytery diaconal committees are to promote, encourage and coordinate diaconal work in the presbytery, the Presbytery of the Southeast. We have similar language in our standing rules. Our standing rules, presbytery Diaconal Committee is fairly similar to what is in the proposed mandate.

Tim Hopper:

I'm actually going to give one of the reports from the Presbytery Diaconal Committee and share from a slightly different angle. But I have the privilege I've chaired this committee for a long time now, for I think for seven years but had the privilege of really inheriting what the previous chairman was able to establish, really kind of recreating what our Presbyterian Diaconal Committee does. Little short guy, guy funny accent named Matt Holst. He's now my pastor. He wasn't at the time but he really reshaped what our committee has done and I was really able to pick up what he had established and run with it.

Tim Hopper:

So why do our diaconates need promotion and encouragement and coordination? Well, these things have already been alluded to, I think, in maybe every talk. But just to give you a sense of where the Presbytery of the Southeast is, we have, I believe, 32 congregations or mission works, I think 23 congregations and nine mission works. Twelve of those mission works or congregations have no deacons, so a third of the congregations, three of them have solo deacons, which is its own significant challenge. Some have aging deacons you know we've had men in their 80s still serving at times. Some have rookie deacons who might not have experienced deacons around them. Some have pastors in sessions who don't know how to train and equip their deacons, and our deacons don't have a natural system built in where they're seeing deacons from other churches, as David talked about coming to a summit and meeting the guy from 20 miles away. Deacons don't have something like presbytery where they're inevitably getting to know and fellowship with their brothers from other churches. So the CDM has done a lot of work towards that end through the summits and it's been a great opportunity. I've gotten to know brothers from my own presbytery that way, but there's an opportunity for the Presbytery Diaconal Committees to do that as well.

Tim Hopper:

I really started to see this in 2015, our Presbytery Diaconal Committee so I'd been a deacon for two years our Presbytery Diaconal Committee organized a conference that was held at what's now Resurrection OBC in Matthews, north Carolina, and it just never really occurred to me to think about diaconal work in a broader, connectional, presbyterian way prior to that event. David, I think you were there speaking. That was the first time we met David and that led to, I guess, six months later I ended up on the Presbyterian Diaconal Committee. So some things that you might be able to do. And you know, for those who have said, you know our committee is very new, we're only just getting started.

Tim Hopper:

Don't take this as you have to go home and implement all these things in the next year. You can't do that. You don't need to burden yourself with that. Just think about some things. Write down a couple things that you want to try to implement and maybe, you know, try to keep your notes so that you can come back in a couple of years and look at them and see what else can we add. But I'm going to go through some things that we've done as well as some things we've thought about.

Tim Hopper:

If people have questions along the way, I'm happy for you to interrupt and I'll answer them as I can. But we I'm interested in what others are doing as well, what others are wondering about. So if you have questions, you can ask. I think one thing you can actually let me also say I didn't make any slides or anything, but I'm happy to clean up my notes a little bit and share it If that's useful to people you can. You can let me know or let David know and we can email those out if you're not able to write things down. But so first I think one thing you can do as a Presbytery Diaconal Committee is to think about how to promote Committee on Diaconal Ministries resources throughout your presbytery. We do a lot through Trish, our extraordinary communications coordinator, who's here, and Trish is the one who is putting together the Mercy Minute and the other emails that are going out from the CDM. So people are seeing those things. But you know it's easy for people to to overlook emails and you know you, as you know, you can tell people things multiple times and they still don't know about them.

Tim Hopper:

So we have things like the diaconal summits that happen every few years. The CDM makes an effort to get people there, but you can pick up the phone and call deacons in your presbytery or whatever efforts you can make to say, hey, are you guys going to be able to come to this summit? The CDM is there to serve the PDCs as much as the PDCs are there to serve the local congregations, and we want to get your men to the summits. There's also on the website the summit archives. There's a lot of questions from people at times of do we have materials on diaconal training, like that's?

Tim Hopper:

One of the better resources we have at the moment is we have video and audio of, I believe, all of the summits are all on the CDM website and those are good resources. If people are asking you what things are there, send their deacons. I think, especially this last summit last summer, 2022, watching through those videos would be a great resource in terms of training. There's the Reform Deacon podcast. Again, trish, our communications coordinator, has helped make that happen and I think it's turned out extremely well. The content that we're producing is something that isn't coming from anywhere else and we're, lord willing, going to continue to do that.

Tim Hopper:

I think our list of ideas is pretty endless at this point. So promote that to the men in your presbytery. I've thought thought about and we haven't really done this yet maybe making some kind of presbytery wide newsletter. Even thought about making just like a paper, one that you send out, like just a print, a sheet back in front. We have 60 deacons, you know stuff envelopes twice a year and send it out and just, you know, include information about the cdm and different resources and also the CDM tries to promote this as much as we can, but letting local diaconates know that the CDM has financial resources, among other things, that we can help local congregations with if they are unable to meet financial needs. And you know as much as we repeat that not everyone's going to know we're always having new deacons, so just put that available in front of people.

Tim Hopper:

A topic that's come up quite regularly has been maintaining a diaconal registry. This was something that our bylaws required us to do when I took over as chairman but had not been updated for a while. So I have taken that effort. Several people people mentioned this already, but it is a really good place to start For a number of reasons. You have to. You know you can't just do it once. You have to keep pestering your local pastors or clerks of sessions to get those details updated, but it's. It's been really fruitful for us. We have ours in a spreadsheet you can do this with Google Sheets and other tools where you can then just share the link. And we have a private presbytery website that presbyters can go access information, and there's a link there to the view of the spreadsheet so that they can go access that at any time with the most up-to-date information. We make that available. Then I also send it out periodically to our diagonals as well. That's a worthwhile effort. So for those of you who have been working on it, keep at it.

Tim Hopper:

Something else that I've really tried to do for our presbytery is just making myself available and known to the people in our presbytery, particularly the officers of our presbytery. Again, something that's come up several times already is this topic of presenting at presbytery. Our presbytery bylaws require our committee to report on our financial expenses to the presbytery, so every presbytery docket includes the diaconal committee presenting there. I have made a point as chairman to try to be at every presbytery meeting that I can, and my work is usually flexible enough that I've been able to do that Partially to give that presentation, which is often five minutes out of a lengthy day and a half long presbytery meeting. But I want the men of our presbytery to know who I am and what the Presbytery Diaconal Committee is and what it can offer to their congregations, because when the time comes they have a need that extends beyond their congregation. I want them to think of us and remember us. So often quite a bit of our report is me saying the same things every meeting twice a year. We're here, we're available. Here's the names of everyone on the committee. Here's our phone numbers. This is what we can offer and I think that's paid off when people do know me and know my name and know who's on our committee and what we can do for them.

Tim Hopper:

One session asked me a couple years ago to come talk with their deacons in training. It was a really great opportunity. I gave like a more formal presentation and then we just had a meal. I guess we did it on Sunday morning before worship and then we had a meal after worship. The deacons and their wives or the deacons in training and their wives were able to just come talk with me and ask me questions, and that's because this minister knew me from Presbytery. So you need again just to be reminding the presbyters and who will also be able to talk to their deacons that your Presbytery Diaconal Committee has the capacity to help with financial things as they come up and the church isn't able to meet. And, as you have heard, even if your presbytery can't always help, the CDM may be able to help. You have heard, even if your presbytery can't always help, the CDM may be able to help.

Tim Hopper:

Our presbytery has been trying to switch also to having requiring committees to have written reports, which is something I'd wanted to do for a while, but been more diligent about it in the past couple of years. So I have a written report that you know, similar to David, describing the Presbytery of Philadelphia meetings, going through their basically their responsibilities from the standing rules, our report. I try to cover all the different things that our Presbytery standing rules require us to do and report on those, as there's things to share. I also had the idea in the spring well, we should also just be, just now that we have a written report, be sharing that with our deacons. So I now, because I have the directory and have email addresses for people, share that presbytery report with the deacons of the presbytery. There may be make some small modifications, but for the most part it's the same as what's shared with the presbytery.

Tim Hopper:

But I think my final thing on making yourself available and known to the Presbytery is then you need to be responsive when people are then coming to you with a request. You can't just let an email sit in your inbox for a week or two weeks before you get back to somebody, even if you don't have something to say right away, you need to let people know. Hey, I've seen your request. Maybe you have to put together a meeting of the committee on, you know, a conference call before you discuss or whatever. But you need to be responsive to people or they're not going to bother to try again. I think this topic has been a big one for me and I know not every deacon if your chairman's a deacon, or even a ruling elder maybe is able to attend every presbytery meeting. Our presbytery has enabled me to receive the financial support from the travel fund of the presbytery to come to presbytery meetings, which helps. But even if your chairman can't be there, have somebody else report. You really do need to be reporting to your presbytery. Okay, another one again.

Tim Hopper:

People have alluded to a lot of these ideas already, but hosting a diaconal conference to your presbytery for your presbytery. We've aspired to this. The first one I know of in our presbytery was the one I was at in 2015. I'm not sure if one happened prior to that, but we did one again in 2018, hosted at my church, and we had I don't know, 20 or 30 guys from the presbytery come out to that Great time of fellowship. I think maybe we met Friday night and then Saturday through lunch or something, so the guys can get home for church. Our presbytery has a 10 or 12 hour drive all the way across the presbytery and we're off to one side so it's far for some people, but we had people from all over attend.

Tim Hopper:

We invited a guest speaker this past one, reverend Nick Wilborn, who you may have heard on the Reformed Deacon podcast fairly recently, a PCA minister in Tennessee who loves the diaconate. He's a church historian. He loves the history of the diaconate but very practical loves the diaconate. Those talks from him are actually on. I think they're on the CDM website. They're also on Shiloh's website, my Congregation's web, sermon Audio. This doesn't have to be expensive. We did it for under $2,000. I can't remember exactly. My local church was able to chip in some for that. The CDM in the past has had funds for first-time conferences. Is that still the case? The Presbytery is having a conference for the first time. I know we also made a request this time from not the first time and the CDM was able to help a little bit. But you can at least ask. Talk to David if funds are an issue, but it doesn't have to be that expensive Deacons have pretty low expectations.

Tim Hopper:

So, it's nice and we also invited ministers and elders to that as well, which I think in any as know, as we do for the National Diaconal Summit, ministers and elders would be benefiting from this. We didn't have many turn out, but I would encourage you to do that If you just need ideas for speakers, or you know, I think there are men from the CDM, david and others who would be willing to speak. You know, come talk to us, talk to David. It's a really nice time and a good opportunity to get to know men.

Tim Hopper:

One thing we've thought about you know we have a big presbytery and I realize we're maybe not even in the top half of in times of size of presbyteries, but the Presbytery of the Southeast is a big presbytery. We've talked about maybe, instead of having these presbytery-wide things, can we do some smaller, more regional things and we can do something like in Raleigh or Charlotte and something in Atlanta and have everybody, almost everybody, within a three or four-hour drive instead of maybe a seven-hour drive. That's not something we've done yet, but it's something we've discussed quite a bit at various times. This is all since I've been on the committee. You know we had covid which threw us for a loop we're starting to talk about planning a third conference. I've also my wife's had four kids since I've been chairman of the committee, so there's been a lot for me, but we have aspirations to be able to continue this in the future.

Tim Hopper:

Just briefly, if anybody who's not any, we have nine chairmen reporting on your Presbyterian committees. If there's anybody maybe who's not going to be reporting has had a conference that's been very successful, that you'd like to share anything about or any ideas on hosting a conference. Well, it's really not rocket science. I mean you can reserve a block of hotel rooms, see if some ladies from the church will be willing to coordinate in feeding people. Have some speakers, and speakers don't need to be fancy, they can be your pastor and maybe a couple deacons, but it's worthwhile time.

Speaker 5:

Alternatives to conferences In other words, he can gather in your general topic.

Tim Hopper:

Yeah, so David's asking if I'm talking about gatherings kind of, besides conferences. I don't have a lot to say to that, because we haven't been able to do that. Yeah, has anybody had something beyond a conference, just kind of a fellowship time, or maybe the president of philadelphia? While you're bringing it up, the president of philadelphia I saw uh, in our last conference, we had david from top.

Speaker 4:

It was awesome. Our next conference, uh, we're actually planning a blue simulation put on by the feed bank in our area, and so we're going to have a bunch of vegans go through what it's like to be poor and hungry. So that was put up by one of our committee members. We're all really excited about it. So maybe something like that, you know, keep in mind.

Tim Hopper:

I went to grad school for poverty simulations.

Speaker 6:

I've had enough of that I have never heard this done before, but I think we need to begin to think about our wives. They are the greatest asset we have. We've never talked, at least that I know of in 25 years, about the deacon's wives and their roles in hospitality and ministry and service and helping us to see and understand the needs these women need to be encouraged. Can we do something special for them, to show them what they need?

Tim Hopper:

Yeah, I think that's not something our present jury has taken up at all, but I think that's a great question, Bob.

Speaker 5:

But, Bob, you can talk about what you guys do as a fellowship.

Speaker 6:

We've done everything. I think We've had fire cues, we've had conferences of all ages and sizes. The problem we have is distance, david, I wish we were closer together. It would change everything. But we've done this for many, for several decades, and the reality is is that we are too far distant for anyone to come. The only way we're going to get people is if we go to the site that we're interested in connecting with and do it there, to the site that we're interested in connecting with and do it there. We've done everything.

Speaker 6:

Zoom has gotten us a long way and getting quality speakers to talk about pertinent issues. I've already said it, but it's changed at least part of the Presbytery's view of how we minister and how we encourage and promote in the Presbytery. At that point we talk about what's coming up, what we're doing, we communicate at that time with our churches and then we make sure we have at least one time of prayer and fellowship where we're really connecting with our deacons and you can't pull people together than trying other things. Maybe not in Zoom, try something else Makes nothing work. The one good thing about COVID was even Scott Schallenberger learned Maybe not in Zoom, try something else Makes nothing work.

Tim Hopper:

The one good thing about COVID was even Scott Schallenberger learned how to use Zoom. We can see his face when we have PDC meetings now, just kidding.

Speaker 3:

Oh, go ahead. I was just going to say that that's a good way to break into one of the presbyteries or start now meeting together. Instead of having this big concept of uh something, start with a general gathering central location. If you have a big presbytery, a vfw or something on good rent and um you know, get everybody involved and uh, just the administering of physical presence will build up the committee.

Tim Hopper:

All right, a few more things here. Disaster response is something that we're going to have a whole talk on in a minute, so I'm not going to try to step on their toes, but our Presbytery Diaconal Committee should be really taking the lead on this. This was a lesson learned in. Our Presbytery Diaconal Committee should be really taking the lead on this. This was a lesson learned in our presbytery In 2011,. We had the bad tornadoes hit Alabama and then also some up in Virginia and church in Chilhowee, virginia, had significant damage to properties of people in that church, and this was before my time on the committee, but our Presbyterian Diaconal Committee was totally unprepared to enable any kind of response to that. My understanding is Hank Belfield, who's the minister there now the state clerk of the OPC as well ended up. That responsibility ended up falling on Hank to coordinate the response, which just isn't the way you know it should be, and that was, I think, an eye-opener for our Presbytery Diaconal Committee at the time to start to be prepared for responding, kind of like Katrina, as we heard about yesterday.

Tim Hopper:

The disaster response efforts have undoubtedly unified and strengthened. Our presbytery Men have been able to work together through response to hurricanes and now to NEON recently. These efforts have been a witness in those congregations. I'm sure Seth is going to share. Seth Long from NEON is going to share how people in their church who are totally new to Presbyterianism just had their eyes open to see people coming from all over the country to come and help them in little Neon, kentucky that nobody's heard of other than the OP church being there. So you know there are different circumstances, as we've heard. In different places you have different risks.

Tim Hopper:

Our committee has largely focused on preparedness for responding to hurricanes. That's our biggest threat in the Southeast, as we experienced in 2019, I think, damage to congregations. But because we have this registry, because we have the one and only Mike Coy, we're also ready for something else that hits. So as we pay attention to the news, if we hear about a big storm going through somewhere, flooding different incidents, our committee tries the next day to be in touch with pastors or deacons from those local congregations and say, hey, was your church impacted? Was anyone from your congregation impacted? One of the things we do with our directory, our deacon directory, is we assign one of our five committee members to each congregation within the presbytery. So that's kind of be to be the main point of contact. So ideally you know that person is going to contact the church in the area that something might have happened. No, also in this disaster response, something you're going to hear about this as well. You know the committee on the icon ministries and David, as disaster response coordinator for the OPC, are ready to assist in this. Mike has more ideas than you could ever manage on how to be prepared here. If you want to talk to Mike, he would be happy to talk to you about it. So you know, I think everybody has some kind of possible risks, whether flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, storms. It should be your Presbyterian Diaconal Committee at least being the first response outside of the local congregation when those kinds of things happen. And it's going to mean a lot to your local deacons to hear from somebody on their Presbyterian Diakon committee and realize they were paying attention to you, they knew where you lived, they knew in the song the news of the storm hit. It's going to be an encouragement. So we'll hear more about that in this afternoon, I think.

Tim Hopper:

Similarly, just being prepared, and people have been talking about being proactive. I've already talked about being responsive, but just do you have you know, to some degree. I think a lot of diaconal work is reactive, in that we don't just have ongoing things often we're just waiting to some extent for things to happen. But you just need to be prepared for those things to happen and your committee, for example, being prepared for financial requests that come. Do you know how your committee is going to process that, think about that, potentially fund it, handle it. You need to just think through being ready for those situations. All right, a few more little things here Before I wrap up.

Tim Hopper:

Something that's been on my mind has been engaging our local deacons with retired ministers and their widows. Hopefully everyone's doing calls on behalf of the Obadiah Fund. There are also other ministers who aren't part is to keep an eye on these retired ministers and we do that and it's a great encouragement to do that. I also want to see our local congregations, and particularly local deacons, engaged with these retired ministers and making sure that the deacons are encouraging and supporting them. I don't know exactly how we do that. The Presbyterian of the Southeast has a large number of retired ministers probably more people retiring to North Carolina than North Dakota but there are at times, for example, retired ministers who are living maybe not near an OP church and they're in the PCA and maybe are unknown to local deacons or living. We have several who live with a child and go to the church with the child, and this is me talking to myself as well as to you.

Tim Hopper:

I'm interested in engaging our local deacons, even if it's not a retired minister, at their congregation, that if they have someone in their geographic vicinity just by the nature of being a retired OP minister, I think it's appropriate for our deacons to at least know them and take them out to lunch once a year or something and be in touch with them. So it's just something to think about how to encourage your local deacons to do that, something that came up in the survey we did. I know the Presbytery of Philadelphia has done some joint work days at churches on building projects and I think somebody else alluded to that another presbytery today. That's not something we've pursued, but I think it's a great opportunity. I mean, as you know, that's such a good opportunity for fellowship If you get to just work beside somebody and chat with them while you work on something. I think even in geographically spread presbyteries there's potential there. You know, you don't have to necessarily get somebody from 500 miles away, but somebody might be willing to drive a couple hours to spend a Saturday working on a project. I think that's a great way for deacons and congregations to get to know one another in fellowship, something that I wish I had not gone seven years without ever thinking of.

Tim Hopper:

But Patrick Whitmore, where are you, patrick? Patrick from the Presbyterian Mid-Atlantic said in the survey that your deacons at presbytery meetings try to meet with local deacons from the church that's hosting presbytery in the area that's hosting presbytery in the area that's hosting presbytery. So I try to attend our presbytery meetings and hop around to different congregations and that's never crossed my mind. But I think that's a great idea for your presbytery diaconal committee, as you're able to try to meet with those deacons and understand their needs, make sure they're aware of your committee. I think that's really wise. Anything to add to that? Yeah, I think that's a great practice and something I'd like to think about doing. Very good idea.

Tim Hopper:

A couple of things that I'm kind of thinking through that I don't know the answers to that. I'd like our presbytery to be more engaged with. One is what we just heard talk on is how can we help Mission Works, but not just Mission Works. We have congregations with no deacons where that responsibility according to the BCO falls on the session and Peter from Concho, arizona, is an elder there and you're part of your session subcommittee or whatever on diaconal needs and that responsibility falls on Peter and they're really trying to execute on that. But I think I'm realizing our committee has maybe dropped the ball to some extent, in that we have this deacon registry and I even keep track of the congregations that don't have deacons in that registry. But when there's no phone numbers to call, it leaves a little bit of a gap and I think probably we need to be at least keeping one contact at all those congregations that don't have deacons you know Mission Works particularly, but we have other congregations as well and keeping this contact open with someone on the session and being able to check in with them as there are disasters and things like that, but also just being able to ask is your church being able to serve diaconal needs even without deacons? And I think there's more for us to do, for my committee to be doing there.

Tim Hopper:

A similar issue that's on my mind as a PDC and CDM member. I'm the chairman of the subcommittee of the CDM on diaconal training. David says one of the main requests he gets from congregation is how can we train deacons? That's something the CDM is thinking through, something as a Presbyterian Diaconal Committee I like to try to have more for people. I think if pastors are getting anything about deacons in seminary, it's often a very small amount. Some pastors are fortunate to have diaconal experience before becoming ministers, but I think many pastors don't have a great sense of how to train deacons is my impression. So that's on my mind. If other people are thinking about that, we'd love to talk about that. David and I and others on the diaconal training subcommittee are very interested in that topic. But within your presbytery, I think if you're moving forward as a committee and being known to the committee, you're going to get this question. You're going to go to a presbytery meeting and a new pastor is going to grab you and say how do I train deacons?

Tim Hopper:

I think it was on the Mortification of Spend podcast that David and I just did. My number one recommendation to people is go get the Van Damme book the Deacon we interviewed him on the podcast as well, cornelius Van Damme. That's a really good comprehensive book and I think going through that is a great way to do training. But yeah, I guess what I'm encouraging you to is have, if somebody comes and asks you that question, have some kind of answer, even if it's not a totally satisfactory answer, point them to CDM, opccdmorg. As we've already said, there are a lot of good resources there. Okay, let me see if I had anything else I wanted to cover. I think I'm about at the end. Let me see if I had anything else I wanted to cover. I think I'm about at the end. No, I think that's about at the end of my Any questions for me or any insight others have on this topic, stuart.

Speaker 4:

The question I had is so at presbytery meetings, do you have any more of a role than reading the report?

Tim Hopper:

At presbytery meetings, do I have any more of a role than reading the report? I don't, for it. At Presbyterian meetings, do I have any more of a role than reading the report? I don't. I basically am given privileges of the floor to the extent of my presentation. So I mostly sit in the back and twiddle my thumbs, but I like to be there. I try to be there the whole time because I want to be available to people at breaks and various things. People want to come chat with me. It's also an opportunity sometimes for us to talk with new ministers without a call that we're working with. But yeah, I've never been called upon for anything further. Yes, sir.

Speaker 5:

Most presidents of church, most ministers, don't know that deacons don't have different beliefs. Ministers don't know that deacons know different things and the reason why we don't have someone who's new to our church become a deacon is because you have to know and trust this person to actually entrust yourself, to see care from them right.

Speaker 5:

So the more that your ministers can become familiar with you as deacons serving on mobility and diacom committees, the more effective you are going to be in ministering to them. You get to know them, they get to know you. It's face time right.

Speaker 5:

So I think it's difficult for deacons to get to proclutane obedience and it is a big ask, but if you can do it, I think it's. You know that it is a big ask, but if you can do it, I think it's. It's hugely valuable. It's that, it's that interaction time and you get a sense as a deacon. You're going to get a sense even in the, in the workings of the proletarian. You get a sense of who men are, how they take that type of thing that's going to inform how you minister to them when the time comes at our last presbytery meeting a few weeks ago.

Tim Hopper:

The meeting went long and the Presbytery Diaconal Committee report is always the first thing that gets cut if they don't have enough time. So I wasn't even there. Jeffrey Carter was going to present on my behalf and the report didn't happen. But they still had the printed report.

Tim Hopper:

But all that to say, a minister who I don't know very well but I'm Facebook friends with, commented on Facebook missed seeing you at Presbytery Tim when I you know we didn't even have the opportunity to report. So he hadn't even missed that I wasn't reporting, but I just was pleased to see that he noticed that I wasn't there. I'm very hard, you know, to hard to miss. But anyway that that was encouraging to me because that's the goal that I've had and I realize not everyone in my work is allows me to do this, various things, but not everyone can do that but that that was really encouraging to me to see a minister realize that I wasn't there and realize, you know, this committee has a place in the presbytery. I'm happy to chat about any of this stuff here or in the future.

David Nakhla:

Thanks for joining us. Go to our website, thereformdeaconorg. There you will find all our episodes, program notes and other helpful resources, and please make plans to join us again next month for another episode of the Reformed Deacon Podcast.

Presbyterian Diaconal Committee Collaboration
Promoting and Coordinating Diaconal Work
Promoting Diaconal Engagement in Presbytery
Alternative Gatherings and Disaster Response
Presbytery Diaconal Committee Collaborations
Recognition of Absence at Presbytery