Deacons Appendix B: Guidelines for a Parish/Congregational Support Group with Separate Discernment Group
B1 SUPPORT GROUP – SPECIFIC RESPONSIBILITIES:
B1.1 To learn about Diaconal ministry and the symbolic and functional roles of a deacon, we expect that the group will meet regularly with their candidate to engage in discussion regarding issues of personal support, the reading of diaconal education materials, and learning about the gifts and skills of the candidate. The Diaconal Commission will provide relevant reading material and other resources if required. A member of the Diaconal Commission will meet with the support group, if requested, to help them clarify their standards for working together, to provide guidelines, information, and resources about the Diaconate.
B1.2 To provide moral, spiritual and emotional guidance and support to the candidate, during his/her candidacy and after ordination. The members of this group must have the skills and gifts necessary to provide a safe confidential place for each applicant to share feelings, experiences and review learning. Please note: the Support Group is not a lobby group with the Bishop or the Diaconal Commission on behalf of its candidate.
B1.3 To participate in the Parish/Congregational training event, which will be led by a member of the Diaconal Commission.
B1.4 Provide information and input to the Discernment group as they write the Parish/Congregation report.
B1.5 It may be necessary to offer a negative recommendation about the Candidate. In that case, the group must express its concerns, come to a mutually acceptable conclusion, and share this with the Incumbent and the Discernment group. It will be the responsibility of the Incumbent to convey the decision of the group to the Diaconal Commission and to the Bishop. The Commission, in consultation with the Bishop, will speak with the candidate, (and the candidate’s discernment group) to offer support, recommend appropriate pastoral care and offer suggestions for redirection.
B1.6 To assist the Church Committee and Discernment group in the writing of a covenant, which will govern the work of the Ordinand in the Parish/Congregation. The covenant will then be sent to the Bishop, for his/her consideration.
B1.7 The support group will need to exist for a period of one year after ordination and may continue at the discretion of the Incumbent and the Support Group.
B1.8 There are a number of important milestones in the process toward ordination and following ordination. There will be therefore moments of anxiety, celebration, and there may be disappointments. These are the times when the support group will need to be most present to the candidate.
B1.9 Since this is the candidate’s personal support group, the membership will be at the discretion of the candidate and the Incumbent. The majority of members ought to be from the Parish; however, the Diaconal Commission recommends that there be some people from outside the Parish who can bring the required gifts and skills to the task.
B.2 Expectations of a support group:
maintain absolute confidentiality
become knowledgeable about the Diaconate
become knowledgeable about the Diaconal programme in the Diocese of Kootenay
provide emotional support and guidance to the candidate