Diaconal Research


    Click for the Executive Summary Document

    This research was set up jointly between the Warden of the Methodist Diaconal Order, Deacon Sue Culver, and the Director of the Wesley Study Centre, the Revd Dr Calvin Samuel, and funded by the Methodist Church.  The research aimed to explore the opportunities and challenges faced by Deacons in the Methodist Church in their work.  The aims were to explore the issues arising for Deacons in their work, including their own understandings of their work and their experience of the dilemmas that this can raise.

    The research built on earlier doctoral work by the researcher, Dr Andrew Orton, exploring different understandings of good practice in Christian community work.  The approach taken was based on using questions to encourage reflection and help develop understanding of this work.  The project included some individual observations and discussions with deacons as they worked, some group interviews to explore collective understandings, and some interviews with other key people whose perspectives may help the Order to reflect on their work.  Andrew is a professional community worker who has experience of working with a wide range of churches, charities, and other organisations as they engage in local communities.  He is a member of the Methodist Church and has also been involved in teaching deacons and community/youth workers at Durham University.

    It was hoped that the research was useful:

    (i)  to individual deacons who participated, through encouraging constructively critical reflection on their own work in light of others’ experience;

    (ii)  for the Methodist Diaconal Order, in terms of helping to develop spaces and resources within its patterns of ministry which support the initial and ongoing development of diaconal practice;

    (iii)  for the Methodist Church, through facilitating an improved understanding of diaconal ministry and its place in the wider church;

    (iv)  for the wider church, through contributing evidence to continuing ecumenical conversations on diaconal contributions to the Body of Christ;

    (v)  for those with whom deacons work, through the new ideas and resources which may be generated through the participative research process.

    Andrew is happy to answer any questions about the research.  His contact details are:

    Dr Andrew Orton, Wesley Research Fellow, Wesley Study Centre, St John’s College, Durham University.  Tel. 0191 334 3898 Email: a.j.orton@durham.ac.uk

     See here for Press Release re Making Connections Conference (September 2011).