Qualifications for deacon ranks

edited December 1969 in Coptic Orthodox Church
Like any rank in the Church, ordination of deacons is an asnwer to a call by God and should be exercised with caution and after prayers, for it is a responsibility. Although these responsibilities, of deacons, have been reduced to chanting in the Church in most episcopates, having to pass a couple of oral "tests" on hymns in front of a bishop to be ordained, these are not the primary responsibility of the deacon as far as I understand from the role of St. Stephan the protomartyr in the Apostolic Church and from the fact that great deacons. At least it did not use to be like that. It seems that the rank of deacons was mostly about service and teaching.

I am not talking about the rank of Epsaltos, which by definition is a chanter. Nor am I concerned about the Reader office, but I am talking primarily about the deacon assistant (abideacon) and the rank of deacon.

Does anybody know about a list of "qualifications" a deacon has to possess in order to be accepted in this service, or a book that details the history of this rank and how it "developed" ?

It is important to note that great deacons in the Coptic Church included St. Athanasius, St. Cyril the Great, St.Timothy I, St. Peter II, St. Dioscoros, St.Theophilus and other great individuals who later became Popes. During holding the deacon's office, they were not famous for their ability to chant but more for their service and great theological teachings that prepared them to the office of the high priest, defender of faith, the judge of the christian world, Pope of Alexandria.

By no means do I undermine the necessity for knowing hymns, but it should not be the only measure which deacons are measured against. This topic came up in a Coptic church nearby because an excellent servant and teacher, though young in age, and who knows hymns to a good extent but is not proficient or "me'alem", was turned down from being ordained deacon because of he is only good at hymns and not "superb", overlooking his service that includes very successful evangelism.


  • Here are the ranks of deacons and their duties:

    Apsaltos: meaning singer are to learn the hymnals of the Church and to
    perform the hymnals in the Church.

    Aghnastos: are older and able to read with understanding, so they can
    participate in the readings.

    Sub-deacons: is a rank that is achieved after one is recognized in the
    previous two ranks. The Sub-deacon is appointed to this rank by cutting
    four tufts of hair from his head on the sign of the cross,
    a sign of dedication to the service of God.

    Deacon: A person who completed the previous three ranks can be elevated to
    the rank of deacon by recommendation from the priest to the bishop.
    The deacon is appointed to this rank by the laying of hands of the bishop.
    A full deacon is usually an adult male who has been in the service of the Church for
    a long time, and has been recognized as a dedicated servant. A deacon can
    assist the priest in serving communion according to the Cannons of the
    Church. A deacon according to the Cannons can carry the cup during communion,
    meaning serve the blood.

    Archdeacon: When the Holy Apostles choose 7 deacons, the appointed Stephen as
    a head of the deacons (archdeacon). There should be no more than one
    archdeacon in a congregation (Church). An archdeacon is a person who is
    really interested and seen by the bishop as qualified for the priesthood.

    Retrieved from http://www.suscopts.org/deacons/

    I hope this helps.

    Please forgive me and pray for me,

  • it all depends on the diocese or the bishop that is in charge..
  • basicly there is not much qualifications because what goes now is that most of the kids are ordained eposlteses and from that time, the person starts to learn the right duties of a deacon (as Godhelpme3691 listed).
    that's for the first rank because after that there is a time in somone's life that he can get elevated to a higher rank.
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