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Pastors rely on deacons' ministry
In the pulpit
ea pulpit0401
John Stetzer
“So the 12 called a meeting of all the believers. They said, ‘We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility.’” Acts 6:2-3 (New Living Translation)
The deacons’ ministry is one of the most important ministries in the church. Deacons have been around since biblical days, and their roles have not diminished. They serve as the right hand to the pastor. During services, you see them leading the devotion, taking up the offering, assisting with communion, and ensuring the sanctuary is comfortable.
Not all churches call them deacons. In the Methodist church, they are called stewards. Presbyterians call them elders. Both women and men serve as deacons in the Midway Congregational United Church of Christ.
The number of deacons in a church varies according to the size of the congregation. Some deacons remain in their positions until death, while others serve for a certain period of time.
“Old timers” such as Warnell Smiley, Simon Hines, Paige Stevens, Henry Baker Sr., Enoch Miller, John Stetzer and John Barnard have devoted many faithful years to their church and deacon board.  Smiley, Hines and Barnard have served more than 40 years as deacons with pride and honor. Smiley, Baker and Daniel Fleming are noted for uplifting devotional services.
Others who have spent years in deacon ministries include Curtes Robert, Herman Baker, Steve Mullice, George Lasseter, James Henry, Willie J. McIver, Brooks Moody, Leroy George and Ezekiel Walthour. Christine Baker and Alberta Mullins of the Midway Congregational Church are also long time deacons.  
“Basically, we are the extension of the pastor as far as ministering to the members. Our church has a family member plan whereby each deacon is a assigned a certain number of families,” Stetzer, who is chairman of the Deacon Board of the First Baptist Church in Hinesville, said. “We assist the pastor in visiting the sick at home, in the nursing home, and hospital. We are here to assist the pastor.”
Some of the deacons at First Baptist include Vance “Mac” Swain, George Lasseter, Ricky Walker and Brian Walker. “First Baptist Church has 12 deacons,” Stetzer said.
“We are here to lighten the load of the pastor. If the members have a problem, they bring them to their assigned deacon prior to going to the pastor. We try to resolve the problem and complaint before it gets to the pastor,” Harold Woods said.
He is the long-time chairman of the Deacon Board at Baconton Missionary Baptist Church in Allenhurst.
“We want to help release him from stress. The deacons and the pastor work together. When we are not working together, the church will know it. We are not there to take over, but to help him,” Woods said.
Woods recalled the days when deacons were assigned “wards” and they would go out on Saturday evening or early Sunday morning to collect “dues” from members.
Woods and John Barnard are the oldest members of the deacons’ board at Baconton. “John Barnard has over 50 years on the board,” Woods said.
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