“From among the baptized, deacons are called by God to a lifetime of servant leadership, authorized by the Church, and ordained by a bishop. Deacons fulfill servant ministry in the world and lead the Church in relating the gathered life of Christians to their ministries in the world, interrelating worship in the gathered community with service to God in the world... It is the deacons, in both person and function, whose distinctive ministry is to embody, articulate , and lead the whole people of God in its servant ministry.”(2004 BOD ¶319)

Deacons typically are engaged in specialized ministries, both within and outside of the church, while maintaining a connection with a local church and an annual conference. Deacons are youth ministers, ministers of music, camp directors, educators, writers, pastoral counselors, chaplains, parish nurses, consultants, and many other forms of service ministries. More information about the Ministry of the Deacon is available through the Section of Deacons and Diaconal Ministries.

Academic Programs

The Divinity School at Duke University wants to support those who answer the call to ministry as a deacon through our variety of academic programs. The educational requirements for ordination can be fulfilled through both our basic degrees, Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) through the completion of the required 24 semester hours of basic graduate theological studies in the Christian faith.

Please note: the requirements for ordination as a deacon differ from the requirements for each degree program (although there is significant overlap). In order to receive a degree from the Divinity School and fulfill the educational requirements for the deacon, you must complete the requirements for both.

Course Guidelines

The requirements for the graduate theological studies in the Christian faith for ordination (BOD ¶315.4c) include "a minimum of 24 semester hours of graduate theological studies in the Christian faith, including the areas of: Old Testament; New Testament; theology; church history; mission of the church in the world; evangelism; worship/liturgy; and United Methodist doctrine, polity and history." The following courses offered at Duke Divinity School are recommended to meet these requirements with substitutions available based on advanced standing, new course offerings, or special circumstances.

Please note: Each annual conference may require additional coursework beyond what is required in the Discipline. Please confer with your Board of Ordained Ministry concerning additional requirements.

Old Testament
OLDTEST 11/12 Introduction to Old Testament Interpretation

New Testament
NEWTEST 18 Introduction to New Testament Interpretation

XTIANTHE 32 Christian Theology

Church History
CHURHST 13 Early and Medieval Christianity
CHURHST 14 Modern European Christianity

Mission of the Church in the World
Indicated within each semester's detailed course listing

Indicated within each semester's detailed course listing

LTS 78 Introduction to Christian Worship
XtianEdu 175 Liturgy and Christian Formation

United Methodist Doctrine, Polity, and History (2 semesters)
PARISH 159 Early Methodism: History, Theology, and Polity
PARISH 160 Twentieth-Century Methodism: History, Theology, and Polity


The Section of Deacons and Diaconal Ministries at the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministries provides a subsidy of $500 for a 2 hour or 3 hour course (or equivalent) from Ministerial Education Funds for part-time students taking any of the Foundational Studies courses listed above and are enrolled with the Section of Deacons and Diaconal Ministries. See their website for more information.

Support for Deacons at Duke

At the Divinity School, a group of folks interested or engaged in the Deacon track meet several times each semester to discuss common concerns and issues related to becoming a Deacon in the United Methodist Church. Persons exploring deacon or diaconal ministries in other faith traditions are also welcome to join. Judy Stephens and Jane Brannock, Deacon liaisons and Andy Keck, Associate Library Director (and ordained deacon) coordinate the work of this group.