The role, identity of deacons and the practice of diaconal ministry in the Anglican Church in Malawi: How is the deacon’s ministry understood and how does this affect the practice of diaconal ministry in the Anglican Church in Malawi?
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While churches in Europe, America and other parts of the world have witnessed a growing interest in the renewal of the diaconate, the Anglican Church in Malawi has done little if anything to capture the growing interest in the diaconate. Deacons in global Anglicanism have been perceived as partial clerics on their way to full participation in ministry as priests. In this perspective their roles have mainly been as liturgical assistants. In recent years there have been attempts to recover the historical view of the diaconate especially in the early apostolic and post apostolic church. These attempts, evident in other parts of global Anglicanism, as well as Lutheran, Catholic, reformed and orthodox traditions, are yet to reach the Malawi Anglican Church. This study aims at opening such a debate. The starting point is to explore the perception of the diaconate in terms of identity and roles, and the influences this has on the diaconal ministry (diakonia) of the church. Through empirical research propelled by qualitative and latent thematic methodological principles of collecting and analyzing data, and an inductive use of theories, this paper has interpreted and discussed the views of lay members, deacons, priests and bishops with regard to the subject matter. Ecclesial theory from Koinonial and organic perspectives and a diaconal theory including biblical and historical models have been used to discuss the empirical findings. In addition, from a contextual perspective owing to the fact of European origin of Malawi Anglicanism, the paper has also considered the need for a contextual approach to the question of diaconal renewal and practice of ministry.