Deacons do not die, and they do not fade away! They just keep on going, like the Energizer bunny! I have been a deacon in the diocese for twenty-three years and have no plans to slow down.
All of my time as a deacon has been spent in southeastern Ohio. I’m an Appalachian by choice, and I really like this area of Ohio.
I grew up in Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. I was active in the Boy Scouts and received my Eagle Badge. I was married 60 years ago to my high school sweetheart at St. John’s, Royal Oak, and we have two wonderful kids, six grandchildren and three great-grand kids.
My ministry as a deacon started at St. Paul’s, Logan. Twenty-three years ago, I started a feeding ministry there with the help of the congregation. It is still going strong today. Bishop Ken Price then asked me to serve at Trinity Church in McArthur, Ohio. Trinity is part of a combined Episcopal-Presbyterian worshiping community that has been in union for over 40 years. I spent eight years there, and it was just a wonderful, rewarding time with that group of people. At the same time, I served as a campus minister at Hocking College in Nelsonville. This ministry went on for 13 years, and I’m still involved in a weekly feeding of the students. This was 13 years of the best ministry I have participated in, working with college students and staff. But then came age 72, and … time to retire.
But like I said, deacons just go on forever. So I asked Bishop Breidenthal if I could work at the Church of the Epiphany, Nelsonville, and he said, “Carry on.”
My parish life at Epiphany includes all the things a deacon does in parish life. We have a large feeding ministry once a month, feeding about 110 meals. We have a Christmas parade where free gloves, mittens and hats are handed out. There is a Boy Scout troop that meets in our building, and an AA group meets there as well.
Another ministry that takes up some of my time is a Sunday morning worship service at a local prison. These are men that are confined for six to eight months for drugs or alcohol – low crimes that don’t require the state prison system.
The service we do is Morning Prayer, and about nine to twenty men attend. This is a great deacon’s ministry – taking the church to the world and the world to the church.
The people at Epiphany also participate in this ministry via prayer requests I bring from the inmates to them.
I also have been a brother in the Order of St. Francis for four years and will take my first permanent vows in June 2019. We are a dispersed group of friars all over the world, only meeting once a year.
This “Energizer bunny” never stops!
Submitted by the Rev. Bill Bales, OSF