The book's purpose is to present the first extensive historical treatment of deacons in the Church of England, in an effort to explain why lifelong or 'distinctive' deacons have so far failed to become a major part of life in the Church of England, as they are in other parts of the Anglican Communion. It aims to contribute to the ongoing debate on the diaconate, not through theological arguments but by presenting the evidence of Anglican tradition on the diaconate since the publication of the Ordinal in 1550. The book challenges the belief that the diaconate was usually a brief and nominal period of probation for priests, revealing the importance of the diaconate to the Elizabethan defence of conformity and the diverse character of diaconal ministry in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Lifelong deacons often belonged to a marginalised 'lower class' of the clergy that has been neglected in the historical record, making a study of deacons of considerable importance to the wider social history of the clergy.For the first time, the book tells the full story of the persistent calls for the revival of a distinctive diaconate within the Church of England from 1839 onwards, and the book's final part draws on interviews with some of those involved in recent debates concerning women's ministry and the distinctive diaconate. The book's conclusion makes use of the historical evidence to present cases both for the abandonment of the distinctive diaconate and its further development, adopting a neutral stance on the issue.
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Francis Young (PhD) is a historian and teacher who lives and works in Ely, Cambridgeshire. He is the author of several books, including 'A History of the Bishop's Palace at Ely: Prelates and Prisoners' (2012) and 'English Catholics and the Supernatural, 1553-1829' (2013).
- Front Cover
- Title Page
- Copyright Information
- Deacons in the Church of England: A Timeline of Events
- 1. Deacons and the English Reformation, 1550-1642
- 2. Deacons from Restoration to Reform, 1660-1832
- 3. The Victorian Call for Deacons, 1839-1901
- 4. Deacons in the Twentieth Century
- 5. Deacons in the Church of England Today
- Appendix A
- Appendix B
- Back Cover
"Francis Young's meticulous scholarship and expert grasp of his subject make 'Inferior Office?' a valuable missing piece for understanding how ministry in the Church of England has developed since the Reformation. It is original, beautifully written, and compelling in its proposals for the role a permanent diaconate might play in the twenty-first century church."
-Bridget Nichols, Lay Chaplain to the Bishop of Ely
"Dr Young's book is a welcome antidote to the generally impoverished view of the diaconate that has prevailed in the Church of England in recent years. It is a timely and significant contribution to the Church of England's understanding of the order of deacons within her threefold ministry, and will be a valuable and informative tool for those charged with the restructuring of the allocation of church resources in the 21st century."
-Dr Serenhedd James, Hon Research Fellow of St Stephen's House, Oxford
"This is a thought-provoking book for all clergy who are intentional about the ongoing debate of the value of the distinctive Diaconate and of the ministry it can offer to the wider church."
-Reverend Mandy Herriman, The Messenger, August 2015
"Young's Scholarship adds much to our understanding of the diaconate within the threefold ministry in the Church of England."
-Stephen Platten, Theology 119 (2), March-April 2016
"Young's book leaves the reader much better informed about the history and purpose of the diaconate..."
-John Darch, Anvil, Vol. 32 Iss. 1, November 2016
"Francis Young stands clearly on the side of his deacons and is to be congratulated for producing such a handy, concise account of this neglected branch of the ministry - a branch that many think the Church has yet to fully exploit."
-Andrew Foster, British Catholic History, 2016
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