I am delighted to announce that during the 2013 General Conference Annual Council, it was voted to assign to the Ministerial Association the responsibility of caring for deacons and deaconesses worldwide.

The plan is that the Ministerial Association, in cooperation with administration and other church departments, be responsible for fostering the training and equipping of deacons and deaconesses. However, the district pastor, in partnership with the local conference/mission, elders, or other people he or she designates, will still be responsible for the actual training of deacons and deaconesses.

It is good to remember that Jesus’ mission on this earth was to serve others rather than to be served. This was His model for ministry. The Greek words for “serve” or “served” come from the root word diakoneo, which is derived from the word “deacon”—a gender-inclusive term.

So, it is evident that Jesus’ ministry as a servant provides the theological foundation for the ministry of deacons and deaconesses. As they follow Jesus’ example, they are to enlist the members of the church into a life of service.

We need to recognize that even though we have many people serving in the church, deacons and deaconesses are the ones who should have a deep spirit of service.

Let me share with you a few numbers to highlight the importance of this select group of spiritual leaders. • Our worldwide Church today has approximately 18 million members attending more than 140,000 congregations (organized churches and companies)—and is still growing! Certainly, we need more people who are well-trained to serve our growing Church in a variety of ministries. • We have almost 30,000 pastors to care for all our congregations and church members. If every pastor preaches in a specific church each Sabbath, we still have more than 100,000 churches without a | EDITORIAL JONAS ARRAIS Jonas Arrais | General Conference Associate Ministerial Secretary Welcome, pastor. Fortunately, we have approximately 250,000 local church elders and company directors to step in and serve. • These leaders are the right hands of our pastors. It is impossible to imagine how our Church would work without their volunteer participation. They are recognized as copastors, and they are doing a great work. • While we have a great number of elders and company directors helping our pastors, by God’s grace we also have about 700,000 deacons and deaconesses who are called to serve their churches and congregations as a team with pastors and other local church leaders. They are making a great difference! The work of deacons and deaconesses is multi-faceted. Here are a few examples of the main roles they perform in the local church or congregation: • Visiting church members in their homes • Reclaiming missing members and backsliders • Supporting and helping the sick, the elderly, the disabled, and the bereaved • Caring for and relieving the poor and aiding the unfortunate • Caring for and maintaining the church property • Serving the church in a variety of areas: the worship service, Sabbath School, the communion service, baptismal ceremonies, and funerals • Teaching God’s Word when situations demand it The talent of service is a gift from God. It would be impossible for our churches to work properly without the participation of this gifted group of leaders.

The impact the deacons had on the early church was astounding: “The word of God increased; and the number of disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly” (Acts 6:7). Today is no different. Deacons and deaconesses are invited to be soul-winners, witnesses for Jesus, and to bring others into a saving relationship with the Lord.

For these and many other reasons, we salute and welcome them! As a ministerial team committed to God and to His mission, we will do our part to work together to see Jesus coming very soon!