The Ministry of Deacons has its roots in the New Testament. In the Acts of the Apostles, chapter six, we have a record of deacons being appointed and ordained by the apostles to assist them, particularly in a servant capacity.

This practice has continued uninterrupted to the present day. It was encouraged and implemented in our diocese by former Bishops Peter Mason and George Bruce. Our current Bishop Michael Oulton also supports and encourages this servant ministry. He often speaks of the importance of the three-fold order–bishops, priests, and deacons–as being an essential part of ministry and of who we are as Church in the Anglican Community.

Deacons in the Diocese of Ontario minister and advocate on behalf of those who are: sick, lonely, children and families, the elderly and bereaved and people in the workplace. They are also involved with pastoral care, chaplaincies and furthering education with baptismal ministry, high risk adolescents and human trafficking awareness.

Says Bishop Michael Oulton: “Deacons are charged with serving all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely and with interpreting to the church the needs, hopes and concerns of the world.”

I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit. “John 15:5.”


In the twentieth century Anglicans took steps to restore the diaconate to a full, equal and permanent order.


The Diaconate in the Anglican Communion

The 1968 Lambeth Conference recommended the diaconate be restored.

It was noted that the Deacon’s role is complementary to that of the presbyter and the bishop. The report affirmed that Deacons symbolize every baptised Christian’s baptismal call to service. Deacons do this through both the nature and character of their ministry.

The Diaconate in the Anglican Church of Canada

In 1989, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada received and commended a report on the restoration of the distinctive diaconate prepared by the then national Committee on Ministry.

By that time, several dioceses had already begun to explore this international movement in ministry and liturgy. The Ordinal of the Book of Alternative Services, 1985, had already reshaped significantly the service of ordination to the diaconate to reflect aspects of word and service not previously emphasized in the Book of Common Prayer.

The Diaconate in the Diocese of Ontario

The first “permanent” or “distinctive” Deacons were ordained in the Diocese of Ontario in September 2001 at St. George’s Cathedral.

At the time Bishop Peter Mason proposed a three-year period for evaluation prior to proceeding further. In 2005, a Task Force appointed by Bishop George Bruce evaluated the ministry of the vocational deacons as it had evolved since 2001. The committee found that the diaconal programme had been successful and with recommendations in place advised the Bishop to proceed.

Bishop George Bruce announced at the October 2006 Diocesan Synod that the ministry of Deacons was a valuable one and he intended to proceed to ordain more deacons. Deacons have continued to be ordained in this Diocese ever since.

Deacons in our diocese

Active deacons

The Reverend Lisa Chisholm-Smith serves as campus minister, and children and youth ministry coordinator at St James, Kingston which is located on the Queen’s University campus. She is also trained as a non-security escort through Corrections Canada and works with the inmates who do community service at St. James. Deacon Lisa currently serves as vice-president of the board of directors of the Association of Anglican Deacons in Canada (AADC). She has a passion for lifelong Christian formation and is interested in helping Christians integrate their faith and their daily work whether paid or unpaid.

The Reverend Sharon Dunlop serves the Parish of St. James’, Kingston, with a special focus on Corrections, Restorative Justice and Victims.  Sharon currently serves as Chaplain at Collins Bay Minimum Institution.  She is a member of the Justice and Peace Commission and a volunteer with Innocence Canada.  Sharon worked with a group of Anglican Clergy assisting the Centre for Christian Studies in Winnipeg, MB in developing educational programs on social justice issues for the Anglican Church of Canada.  These programs are currently being rolled out across Canada.

The Reverend Fran Langlois is honourary assistant to the three Anglican parishes in Prince Edward County. Fran serves the Parish of St. Mary Magdalene, Picton when not officiating at St. John’s, Waupoos, and St. Philip’s, Milford one Sunday each month. Fran also conducts two services a month at the John M. Parrott Centre, Napanee. Fran is deacon-in-charge of the Anglican Ministry to Seniors in Prince Edward County, which provides regular worship, visitation and pastoral care to residents in four nursing homes and six retirement homes. Fran is also a member of the diocesan Training and Development Committee.

The Reverend John Morrison serves the Parish of St. John’s, Bath. He is responsible for the Outreach Pastoral Team. John has a special focus with providing services and pastoral care to seniors at the Brairgate Retirement residence as their chaplain. He is also chaplain at zone and branch levels of the Royal Canadian Legion. John is a strong advocate for veteran’s benefits. He conducts bereavement support groups locally and in concert with Napanee Hospice.

The Reverend Peter Schaub served for eleven years at St. Peter’s, Kingston, and is presently serving at St. James, Kingston. Peter maintains the website, FB and Twitter page for St. James, and publishes a weekly newsletter. With these, Peter mirrors back to the congregation their great ministries as well as calling them to remember the plight of refugees, justice for the Aboriginals, the work of PWRDF and the work of fellow deacon Sharon Dunlop’s justice for those who are incarcerated.

Retired deacons

The Reverend Kate Ann Follwell serves as honourary assistant at St. Thomas’ Belleville. Kate Ann has been involved in: Leadership training with the counsellors at Camp Hyanto; designing and implementing a course for parents and teens called ‘Why do they do what they do?’; Belly to Belly weight loss programs for the diocese; ‘Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks’ Men’s cooking school; human trafficking education; ‘Reading the Bible in a year’ Bible book club, and pastoral care and services in seniors residences and full-time care facilities.

The Reverend Don Goodwin serves as honourary assistant at St. George’s Cathedral, Kingston.

In Memoriam

The Reverend Tom Dukes.
The Reverend Roger Hammond.
The Reverend Jack Beer.
The Reverend Winnie Forte.

Advisors to the College of Deacons

Archdeacon Wayne Varley is the archdeacon of ministry and program. Wayne was ordained to the diaconate in 1987 and to the priesthood the following year with all of his ministry served in the Diocese of Ontario. One of his responsibilities is to support the bishop in his care and support of clergy. As advisor to the College of Deacons, Wayne works with individuals discerning a call to diaconal ministry and offers administrative and pastoral support following their ordination.

The Rev. Dr. Bill Morrow is professor of hebrew and hebrew scriptures in the School of Religion, Queen’s University. A non-stipendiary Anglican priest, his role is to provide academic advice as candidates pursue training for the diaconate.

Oversight of Deacons

“God now calls you to a special ministry of servanthood, directly under the authority of your bishop.” ─Ordination of a Deacon (BAS, p.655).

Deacons in the Diocese of Ontario are licensed to the Bishop who in discussion with the Deacon will deploy him/her to a parish or diocesan ministry.

The Advisor for Deacons along with the Bishop is responsible for oversight and support of all the deacons.

In addition to appointing an Advisor for Deacons, the Bishop has often also appointed an Education Advisor for Deacons who assists those in the formation process in preparation for ordination with their educational requirements.

Collegiality-the College of Deacons

All active and licensed deacons are members of the Diocese of Ontario College of Deacons.

We gather for support, education, planning, and discussion of diaconal mission. The time the College of Deacons spends together is important for nurture, education, and above all for community.

Retired deacons are welcome to participate in the activities of the College of Deacons. However, they are not expected to attend.

The College meets four times per year.

Frequently Asked Questions

You are to make Christ and his redemptive love known, by your word and example, to those among whom you live and work and worship. You are to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns and hopes of the world.

─Ordination of a Deacon (BAS p.655)


The Diaconate: some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are Deacons?

Deacons are ordained ministers in the Anglican Church of Canada. Anglicans recognize three distinct and equal orders of ordained ministers: Deacons, Priests (Presbyters) and Bishops.

The word deacon derives from the Greek word Diakonos meaning servant or minister and the biblical concept of Diakonia is commonly defined as service, particularly to the poor, sick, and oppressed. The deacon’s service is a sign or icon of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve. Jesus is the model for the servant leadership a deacon is called to exercise in a variety of ways, including encouraging and enabling others to serve. A deacon has “one foot in the world and one foot in the church.” Although deacons also serve in specific roles in the liturgy, their liturgical roles are merely symbolic of their real ministry in the world.

What do Deacons do?

The ordination service for a Deacon states their duties:

  1. to serve all people, especially those who are poor, weak, sick or lonely, in the name of Jesus Christ.
  2. to make Christ known in the world by word and example.
  3. to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world.
  4. to assist the community of faith in public worship and bishops and priests in the ministration of God’s word and sacraments.

How are Deacons deployed?

Deacons may be deployed in a variety of ways; hospital/long-term care chaplaincy, prison chaplaincy, university chaplaincy, counselling, teaching, pastoral care, parish ministry, youth ministry, work in the diocese and the wider church. Some are involved with community outreach, refugee work, social justice concerns and advocacy work.

Are there different types of Deacons?

Over the years, those who have been chosen, and are committed to an on-going life and ministry as Deacons have been referred to as “vocational”, “permanent”, or “perpetual” deacons. However, now they are simply referred to as Deacons.

There is, however, a long-established practice within the Anglican Church of those who have discerned a calling to the Priesthood first being ordained as deacons and then as priests.

In the Diocese of Ontario, those “deacons” proceeding to the Priesthood are referred to as transitional deacons to distinguish them from regular deacons.

Are Deacons a new form of ordained ministry?

No. The Order of Deacon is of New Testament and apostolic origin. The Book of Acts contains what has traditionally been understood as the institution of the diaconate in the selection and appointment of “the seven” through prayer and the laying on of hands for service and distribution of food among widows in the community. The letters of Paul to the Philippians and to Timothy refer to deacons as officers alongside bishops in the life of the emerging church. Deacons became important figures in the administrative life of the church, often acting as the chief administrating officer to bishops and overseeing the temporalities of the church.

In the Middle Ages, the use and the influence of the office of deacon was diminished, as many of the roles and functions of deacons were taken over by presbyters [priests] or members of the minor orders (e.g., lectors and acolytes). During the English Reformation, the major orders of bishop, priest, and deacon were retained, while the minor orders were eliminated. Unlike the Eastern Churches, which preserved the Order of Deacon, the diaconate continued in the West as a transitional order in preparation for the priesthood. While Anglicanism claimed to continue the historic threefold orders of the Church Catholic, it was not until the 20th century that it gave serious consideration to the redevelopment of the diaconate as a permanent and distinct order of ministry.

Source: The Iona Report: The Diaconate in the Anglican Church of Canada (General Synod, 2016).

Are Deacons called Reverend?

Yes. In the Diocese of Ontario, the Deacon is styled, “The Reverend Jones” and may be called: Deacon Jane, Deacon Jones or Ms. Jones. Or, alternatively, Deacon John, Deacon Jones or Mr. Jones.



The Rev. Fran Langlois (deacon) chair, Diocese of Ontario College of Deacons.

The Ven. Wayne Varley, advisor for deacons.