Meet Rev. Deacon Karla Hunt

All Souls is excited to welcome Rev.Deacon Karla Hunt to our congregation!  In the Episcopal Church, there are Vocational Deacons and Transitional Deacons.  Katherine our Priest came to us in July 2017 as a Transitional Deacon.  Karla comes as a Vocational Deacon.  When you read her journey below you will realize the amount of discernment and education required for her new role.  We welcome Karla and look forward to getting to know her and to expanding our vision of serving others.

My name is Karla Hunt and I’ve recently been assigned to All Souls Episcopal Church as a vocational deacon. I finished Deacons’ School in July 2018 and was ordained on Saturday, 29 Sep 2018.

I’ve been a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church on Church Hill since my older daughter was born in 1985. My younger daughter came into the world in 1989 and this church family was the village that raised my children after the death of my husband in 1995. I’m a retired geologist and one half of a therapy dog team with my lab/beagle mix, Natty Bumppo. I recently adopted a black female lab mix from a rescue group; she was a year old in July and her name is Annie Oakley.

My discernment journey began several years ago when I explored a call to the priesthood. I was told that while the Committee on the Priesthood did discern a call, it was not a clearly articulated call to priesthood. While I was devastated at the time, it was the right decision because it has brought me to the place I am today.

I’m very happy to be here with you and tell you about the diaconate (order of deacons) in the Diocese of Virginia.

Foundations for the diaconate are found in Holy Scripture, the Canons of the Episcopal Church and in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP).

Holy Scripture

Most people look to Acts 6:1-4 when considering the origin of deacons in the church:

“Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.”

So these seven were charged with the fair and equitable treatment of all peoples from the very beginning. The seven chosen were Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolaus and in charging them with this ministry, the apostles prayed over them and laid hands on them. We know that Stephen was martyred at the feet of Saul (Acts 7:58) while Philip evangelized the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39) but the fate of the other five remains unknown.

Canons

Today’s deacons continue to be chosen by the community of the faithful. Canon 6: Of the Ordination of Deacons describes the process.

An adult communicant confirmed and in good standing, discerns a call to ministry.
With the support of her priest, she attends a Diocesan Discernment Retreat to clarify the call.
After a period of discernment she asks the priest to call a Parish Discernment Committee (PDC) from the congregation to affirm the call.
If the PDC affirms the call, she applies for postulancy with the support of the priest and the congregation.
The postulancy application requires

the usual statistical information (name, DOB, SSN, etc.),
a resume with education and work history,
a background check,
a medical examination,
a psychological examination,
answers to a series of questions and
a description of the spiritual journey that led to the application.

An interview is scheduled with the Committee on the Diaconate and if the committee recommends postulancy then
An interview is scheduled for the bishop who has the final say in the matter.

If accepted, the new postulant attends the next session of Deacons’ School spending two years in education and formation. Deacons’ School is nine quarterly weekends from 5PM on Fridays to 5PM on Sundays and the current class includes nine postulants; two from the Diocese of Southern Virginia, three from the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia as well as four from our own diocese. The educational element is rigorous and intense; the homework is abundant and thought provoking designed to delve deeper into the self in order to align one’s will with God’s. The bishop requires Ember Day letters from the postulant in order to track progress and appropriate formation. The second year of Deacons’ School includes an internship in a new parish and a capstone project to be presented at the end of the two-year period. Midway through the second year, the postulant applies to become a candidate for ordination. Following separate interviews with the Committee on the Diaconate and the Standing Committee, the bishop formally accepts the postulant as a candidate for the diaconate. Any of these three can determine that the postulant not be recommended for ordination with the bishop having the final say. I am happy to report that Bishop Susan has officially made me a candidate for ordination. Ordination is anticipated to occur in September or October of 2018 but this class would like to be ordained together and coordinating the schedules of three different bishops is proving to be problematic.

According to Canon 7: The Life & Work of Deacons, members of the diaconate work directly under the bishop but in conjunction with a priest in a parish. A letter of agreement between the deacon and the parish stipulates the specific rights and responsibilities of both parties. Deacons are charged to meet periodically with other deacons and report to the bishop annually.

The Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer (p 856) describes the ministry of a deacon as representing “Christ and his Church, particularly as a servant of those in need; and to assist bishops and priests in the proclamation of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments.” Deacons can be seen in worship reading the Gospel, preaching, setting the table, calling the congregation to confession and giving the dismissal. Deacon Christine has been a faithful and inspiring presence for me in my journey.

During the Presentation portion of the Ordination of a Deacon (BCP, pp537-547), the bishop confirms that the ordinand (one wishing ordination) has been selected according to the canons and has a manner of life suitable to the ministry of a deacon. The ordinand declares loyalty to the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as received by the Church, belief in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the Word of God containing everything needed for salvation and obedience to the Bishop and others put in authority over her.

During the Examination portion, the bishop calls the ordinand to a special ministry of servanthood under the bishop serving all people but particularly “the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely.” As a deacon she is to study Holy Scriptures for nourishment and pattern of life, to model Christ and his love by word and example, to interpret the needs and hopes of world to church and to show Christ’s people that in serving the helpless, they serve Christ himself. Following in the apostolic tradition, the bishop consecrates the deacon by praying over her and the laying on of hands.

Passion for ministry

For me specifically, I believe I am called to make Christ and his love known by praying with people wherever they happen to be in their daily life and work. I have been privileged to do this at Richmond Community Hospital for the past two years where I am a volunteer in the chaplain’s office. The goal of my ministry is reconciliation of people to God and people to each other. I want them to know how much God loves them and how much he wants to be in relationship with them. I am called to preach the needs of the world to the church specifically showing God’s people that serving others actually serves the Christ we see in each other. I know this ministry is correct for me because of the joy the Lord has given me in these efforts. Knowing how he works through me by creating the opportunities and supplying the words makes me humbly grateful and gives me great joy. I would love for you to stop me when you have a question or comment so that we can talk!

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