Salem Church Ordains and Trains New Deacons

Salem Church Ordains and Trains New Deacons

Apr 26, 2017

By Janet Thorngate, a deacon in the Salem SDB Church

On a happy Sabbath last November 19, the Salem, WV, Seventh Day Baptist Church ordained four new deacons who had answered the church’s call earlier in the fall. To begin the day, each participated in the morning worship leading up to the sermon by Rev. John Pethtel titled “Rooted and Built Up in Releasing Leaders to Serve” from Colossians 4:7-18. Now Director of Church Development and Pastoral Services for the Conference, John had grown up in the church as an “older brother” to some of the candidates.

Heart of the afternoon ordination service was the spiritual journey testimonies by each of the candidates: A. J. Curran, Andrea Huffman, Waine Nicholson, and Julie Richmond. Deacon Stephen Rogers conducted the service with Rev. Pethtel giving a charge to the candidates and Pastor Johnmark Camenga of the Lost Creek, WV, Church a giving charge to the church. Salem Pastor, Rev. Brent Hannah, led the consecration prayer and Deacons Paul Davis and Christine Sias, parents of two of the candidates, welcomed them to the diaconate.

After the new deacons had been on the job for four months (and attended four monthly deacons’ meetings), the church sponsored a deacon training Sabbath which involved the whole congregation. It was Sabbath, March 25, when Director of Education and History, Rev. Nicholas Kersten, preached the morning sermon, “What is the Gospel?” Following a fellowship lunch, he challenged the whole congregation, “Working Out the Gospel in the Church,” and in the evening, Nick led the diaconate through an interactive seminar on “How the Diaconate Fits in With The Broader Church” based on Acts 6:1-7 and I Timothy 3:8-12.

SDB churches have different selection patterns and roles for their deacons. Salem’s is a traditional pattern of ordaining deacons for life. The selection process begins when the church decides a new deacon or deacons are needed. Members write suggested names on a secret ballot. During a special meeting with focused prayer, the deacons review the list of suggested names and decide which individuals to ask if they would accept a call; candidates have as long as they need to consider the request. When all have responded, the names are taken to the church which votes to call individual candidates to ordination. A service is then planned with invitation to sister churches of the Association.

Major official responsibilities of the Salem diaconate are to assist the pastor in maintaining the appointments and sustaining the work of the church, lead out in church visitation and ministry to the sick and needy, and arrange for and assist in the ordinances of baptism and communion.

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