(Editor’s Note: Karen Boyd was ordained as a deacon on Jan. 30. She shares her experiences, from discernment through ordination.)
I was ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons on January 30, 2018 in the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene. I look forward to the future with joy, excitement and more than a little bit of trembling.
My adult life was spent without a relationship to God, but I believe God found me. While still living in Mesa, Arizona, I felt a pull to fill a void inside and after much prayer and searching I found the Episcopal Church. I fell in love with the all inclusive love I found and I knew that I was home. I was formally received into the church in May 2012 and soon after began to feel a call to ordained ministry.
That call comes in many forms for many people. Not only did members of my congregation in Arizona tell me they felt I had a calling and could see me serving God’s people, but I felt what I can only explain as a tug at my soul, this time to ordained ministry.
I moved to Abilene in the latter part of 2012 to marry the man who is now my husband. We were married in the Church of the Heavenly Rest. I became involved in many ministries as I continued to privately discern my call. I began to actively seek the diaconate in 2015.
The path to ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church is long and involved. After meeting with my rector, Father Luke Back, and the Bishop of the Diocese of Northwest Texas, Scott Mayer, there were discernment committees. I met several times with my peers, a committee called from within my parish to help me discern this call. With support from my home parish, I met with committees at a diocesan level. There were also medical, psychological, and spiritual assessments.
In the autumn of 2015 I began to attend the School of Ordained Ministry (SOM) in the Diocese of Northwest Texas in Lubbock. SOM is in conjunction with the Iona Collaborative through the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin. It is designed for bi-vocational (those who still work full-time) priests, and deacons. Unlike formal seminary, SOM does not require full-time attendance. SOM meets 10 times during the school year, approximately one weekend a month for three years. We study the same core curriculum as seminarians but it is abbreviated to allow those who must continue to work full time an opportunity to answer a call to serve. Even though I am now ordained, I will continue to attend SOM until I complete the program and graduate in May of this year.
The diaconate is a special calling to serve. While I will assist with worship at Heavenly Rest, I am no longer a member of just that parish. Rather, deacons belong to the entire diocese and report directly to the bishop. In the vows we take during ordination, we are called to serve in the name of Jesus Christ, particularly the poor, the sick, the weak and the lonely. We are to interpret to the church the needs, the concerns and the hopes of the world. We are to show Christ’s people that in serving the helpless, we are serving Christ himself.
I am overwhelmed and overjoyed by this unique opportunity to serve God and his people. I have received grace upon grace, and blessing upon blessing. I hope to serve God and his people and pour out his love and compassion to all I meet.