The Deacons of All Souls
The Deacons are an elected group of long-standing members — senior not so much in the sense of age, but by dint of their participation in the affairs of All Souls.
The by-laws of All Souls Church state that the Deacons assist the Minister at the Communion Service and perform such other functions as may be assigned to them by the Society or the Board of Trustees. In practice, since the by-laws were adopted on February 14, 1820 (last amended in 2006), the functions and responsibilities of the Board of Deacons have been greatly expanded. The Deacons serve as the collective memory of the church. To be elected a Deacon, a nominee must have given extensive service to the congregation, such as an officer and/or member of the Board of Trustees, an officer or member of one of the major committees, or rendered distinguished service in a number of volunteer capacities.
Although the Deacons are nominated and elected each year at the Annual Meeting with one or more new members added to the roster, Deacons continue to serve year after year. Because of their many years of association with All Souls, the Deacons are able to apply their valuable experience to current problems and help the Board of Trustees and the ministers evaluate matters from a perspective that includes the past. In that way, active and involved Deacons can provide a measure of historical perspective, stability and continuity. Deacons seek to uphold tradition but are careful not to impede the changes a vital institution must make.
The Communion Service at All Souls, held four times a year, is based on early Unitarian traditions and is quite different from communion at other churches. The service recalls and celebrates the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and of “all women and men who have striven to be followers of his way of life.” The simple sharing of bread and wine by the community does not refer to any supernatural elements. In keeping with Universalist tradition, the service is open to everyone, with no requirements as to church membership or theological belief.
The Deacons Award
The Deacons Award is given in recognition of long term and/or exemplary service to the Church and the Congregation. A committee of the Deacons selects an individual, drafts an appropriate citation and presents the name to the Board of Deacons for approval. The award is then presented to the recipient by a member of the Deacons at the Annual Congregational Meeting in February. In 2015, a Youth Award was added by vote of the Deacons, and may be awarded if there is a qualified candidate.
Beryl Jones-Woodin, President