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With a deacon;s heart

Posted by griffithd on November 7, 2018 at 3:05 PM

I spend a lot of time thinking about how to communicate the work that we do at ECS and the need for our wider community to both understand the issues of intergenerational poverty and the solutions that deliver real impact and effect change with the individuals who experience poverty.

I have used numbers, but they are both overwhelming and can be numbing.

I have used stories, but they can be lost quickly in the mind of the listener.

I have used video and onsite visits and participants to tell their own story and experience.

I have appealed to the economics and the social costs.

All of these move the needle a little bit, but not in the profound way needed to drive real change.

Today I learned a new approach. Better said, I was reminded of the fundamentals.

We added to our board recently a vocational deacon. By tradition and practice a vocational deacon is in our tradition "a baptized person called and empowered by God and the Church to be a model of Christ’s servant ministry for all people. As agents of God’s compassion and reconciling grace, deacons are missionaries to the world and messengers to the Church of the world’s needs, hopes, and concerns."

We were discussing an issue in an advocacy committee meeting as to what and where ECS should take a position on a specific bill pending in front of city council. He used a term that hit me like a ton of bricks. “I look at these issues with a deacon’s heart.”


We are called in our tradition, and I can argue in all traditions, to look at our behavior, our actions, our deeds with a deacon’s heart. Our baptismal covenant calls for us to love our neighbor as ourselves and to respect the dignity of every human being. To understand that no one is safe until we are all safe. That acting in one’s self interest is best done when one considers their neighbor’s interests.


We are called to deal with poverty not because of the economics, the social costs, the stories and the contrasts with our own, all of which are compelling and serve as a clarion call for effective action and leadership.

No, what we are really called to look at is the issues of poverty with a deacon’s heart and make it our own. We are called to service not because of our specific religious traditions, but because the call to service, the call to make the world a better place, lies deep in all of our hearts and the call from the carpenter from Bethlehem is both universal and true.

So it is with a deacon’s call and with the example of a deacon’s hearts that we do this work and we welcome you, we ask you, to look deep into your own heart and answers the deacons call to service. We can help you with the specifics and what works to move the needle, but we need individuals to answer the call, both personally and on the wider stage. Social justice is not a spectator sport.

Exactly. With a deacon’s heart. Then the numbers.

Thanks Phil.

Categories: Muddy Boots, Leadership, Griffith Thoughts

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