NORWICH — The Emmanuel Episcopal Church, located at 37 West Main Street in Norwich, will be hosting a ceremony for Emmanuel Episcopal Mission Outreach Coordinator Lynne Walton to ordain her as a deacon at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 11, followed by a community hot dog cookout.
The service is open to the public, and will also be live streamed on The Big Red Door Facebook page.
This will be the church's first ordination in 31 years, and will also be only the seventh ordination held in the church since it was founded in 1832. The Bishop of Central New York Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe will preside over the ceremony.
“The heart of a deacon’s ministry is to empower the Church to address the hopes, needs, and concerns of our neighbors,” says Duncan-Probe. “God has given Lynne a beautiful heart for service and a talent for bringing people together. Across the Diocese, we are celebrating this moment and looking forward to new opportunities for shared ministry.”
Walton grew up in New Berlin, but eventually relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio for her job. After 15 years, she retired and moved back home, and began looking for ways to get more involved in the church.
"I really wanted to come back here and, retired, do a lot of things with the church," said Walton. "I had never been on an altar. I taught Sunday school, but it was like, oh I could kind of learn how to set up the altar, and I'd like to do the readings for lector, and and I could help serve the chalice and take communion to people in the nursing homes, and I could visit with people, and I love helping people.
"So I just thought of it as I could be a super church lady, and that’s what I called myself. Just kind of having fun doing churchy things with Father Chuck, [the St. Andrew's Priest]. Helping him and helping buy things and fix things up, serving coffee hour, having great receptions at the church. Really enjoying the church events and making church fun for others because I loved it so much."
Within two weeks of returning to the area, Walton said Father Chuck had signed her up for a divinity school class that would train her to be a deacon. Over the course of three years, she spent a weekend each month in Canandaigua attending day-long classes, until she earned her Certificate for Christian Leadership.
Now, her hard work is paying off, and Walton will officially be ordained as a deacon on Saturday.
"Deacons are called to be ministers of the faith just like anyone else, but then you’re ordained to clergy. You’re also called to take on the authority of being responsible for outreach, for taking care of the people that Jesus told us to take care of, told his apostles to take care of," Walton explained.
"That’s part of what the deacon’s job is, is to basically go outside of the church, look for problems in the community, and where there’s issues that people are being oppressed, or have problems, and then bring them back to the church," she added. "It’s not like I can go out and solve the world’s problems. Just recognizing that is really tough. But then coming back to the church and say, okay, what can our church do about it?"
Walton said she has been assigned to Saint Stephen's Church in New Hartford, and will serve there every Sunday. However, she stressed that she will also continue her work at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Norwich.
"I will have one Sunday as a deacon to serve at Saint Andrew’s, my hometown church, for this next Sunday after ordination. But after that I will be going up to New Hartford for Sundays," she said. "I still will work here, my job, and still be working as a local outreach coordinator so that I can still have a lot of involvement with the community. But for Sundays I will serve with the priest up there."