Forming and Supporting Deacons to Serve in the Lutheran Church

Order of St Stephen, Deacon
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We are called to serve Christ by helping to serve the people.

Order of St. Stephen Deacon

 

Three Year Deacon Academic Program

 

Each candidate must successfully complete all of the prescribed courses before being set apart as a Deacon.  Classes are offered on a rotating schedule.  New students may begin at the start of any class. 

An orientation class is required; orientations will be scheduled as needed before each class begins.  The orientation is designed to serve as an introduction to the Order of St. Stephen Deacon and also is an overview of a deacon’s life, responsibilities, duties and service to their congregation. This course will also prepare the Vicar Deacon to begin an internship at their sponsoring church or organization. 

The concepts of this class are related to the ongoing work of preaching, teaching, worship, social ministry and acts of mercy carried out individually and corporately by the Church and her servants.  This course also introduces the student to the idea of Baptismal vocation; the priesthood of all believers and that we all have gifts that may be used.  Instructors may spend time helping students discern their own possible gifts for ministry and service to church and the world.

Students are encouraged to consider the implications of their service in the life of their congregations.   Students are encouraged in their daily prayer life as well as the need for continuing education once they have completed the academic curriculum.

 

Listed below are the academic classes required and a brief description of each class.

    Christian Ethics

    Church History I

    Church History II

    Hospital Ministry

    Liturgy of the Lutheran Church I

    Liturgy of the Lutheran Church II

    Lutheran Writings and Confessions

    New Testament

    Old Testament

    Homiletics (preaching)

 

Christian Ethics

This course considers the intersection of faith life and life in the 21st century, living in this world.  Exploration of essays from contemporary Lutheran theologians and the Lutheran Social Statements will be included along with practical information for situational management.

 

Church History I

This course is designed to assist the candidate in understanding the long and rich tradition of the Christian Church. A discussion of Biblical and Apostolic Period in church history will enhance the basic understanding of the origins of the Christian church. A study of the second and third century Christianity will show the evolving church.  The course will demonstrate the coherence of Christian beliefs in each other; help identify foundational doctrines; give an understanding of orthodoxy and heresy; gain an understanding of the communal and historic nature of doctrines and their spiritual foundations.  The course will also discuss the teachings of St. Augustine and the Trinitarian Controversy. It will conclude with the rich history of the Middle Ages and its influence on Christianity.

 

Church History II

This course is designed as a continuation from Church History I. The studies will begin with a discussion of the early pre-reformation reformers and the beginning of the Lutheran Reformation in Germany. Other reformers such as Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, and Henry VIII of England will be investigated.  A look at the Radical Reformation and the Roman Catholic Response to the Reformation will be discussed. A look at Christianity in the New World with an emphasis on Denominationalism in North America will take place. Finally, a look at the Ecumenical Movement and American Fundamentalism will be discussed.

 

Hospital Ministry

The candidate will be instructed in the techniques of Hospital Ministry and given the time for practical application of learned information. A discussion of emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of the sick and shut-in, along with the concerns of patients in a hospital crisis will take place.

This course has two components.  Class sessions will deal with the understanding of the needs of patients and loved ones as well as issues relating to this ministry; this course will also provide opportunities to relate visitation ministry to the theology and worship life of the Church.  Role play will be used to recreate scenarios prior to the student’s actual visitations. Then, students will be provided the opportunity to make a least one supervised visit in an institution and/or to the homebound and two other visits to an institution or to the homebound.   The role of the Ecumenical Minister is also explored.  During this course students may discern whether they have a gift for visitation.

 

Liturgy of the Lutheran Church I

This course is designed to familiarize the candidate with the important books of Lutheran Worship.

This course will investigate the following:

Historical Review

The Church Year

Music in Worship

Space in Worship

Prayer Offices

Special Festivals and Services

Occasional Services – Marriage, Burial, etc.

This course has several objectives; to discuss our understanding of worship in various times and places, to understand how systematic theology, foundational doctrines and the seasons of the church year shape Lutheran Liturgical Worship, and to help the students understand and express why disciplined thought and thoughtful confession is crucial for church leaders.  The class will explore both traditional worship practices and how worship is evolving into the 21st century.

 

Liturgy of the Lutheran Church II

In this course the candidate will concentrate on the sacraments. A comprehensive study of Holy Baptism and Communion will enable each participant to more fully understand and appreciate the historical and theological aspects of the two sacraments. This course will also provide a practical understanding of the words, actions and items involved in its services by giving a close examination of our service books.  This course also looks at the wide diversity of Christian Worship practices within the ELCA from the traditional to the contemporary, with special emphasis on the cultural settings in which worship occurs. In addition this course focuses on the role of the deacon in liturgy and in partnership with their pastor. Note, this class may be merged with Liturgy I at the instructor's discretion.

 

Lutheran Writings and Confessions

This course offers students a focused, in-depth study of selected portions of the Book of Concord as well as supplemental material from other Lutheran Theological Teachings and a study of Martin Luther.  It will promote scholarly research and writing skills.  Special emphasis is placed on the Augsburg Confession and Apology, the Catechisms and the Smalcald Articles. Topics include God and Sin, Justification by Grace Alone, Church and Ministry, and the Sacraments.  Parish constitutions might be studied to show relation of confessional documents to modern Lutheranism.

 

New Testament

This course is designed to assist the candidate in the basic understandings of the foundation of Christianity. A survey of the four Gospels with a discussion and description of several relevant kinds of biblical criticism will be offered. The letters of Paul, particularly Romans and Corinthians will add much to the understanding of our Faith. A Discussion of the Pastoral and Catholic Epistles will expand each participant’s knowledge as well as demonstrate how to use these books in the candidate’s ministry. Finally, a discussion of Revelations will conclude the survey.  A study of homiletics will be included with opportunities to practice using New Testament texts.

 

Old Testament

This course has been designed to survey the span of the 39 books of the Old Testament. The historical and literary value of the Old Testament will be discussed. A close look of the Pentateuch, the Historical Books, Psalms, Proverbs and Minor Prophets will give the participant a good basis on which to build their education.

Participants will have the opportunities to investigate the theological development and importance of recognizing individual and corporate growth in faith, the universality of God’s approach to man and the varied ways that man responds to God. A study of homiletics will be included with opportunities to practice using Old Testament texts.

Homiletics

This course will explain and give practice in writing and delivering homilies and sermons.  Some knowledge of the bible is essential to success in this class.