Methodist diaconal order

In the Methodist Church of Great Britain, deacons are members of a permanent order called the Methodist Diaconal Order (MDO). The MDO is therefore both a religious order and an Order of Ministry, or in other words, an order of Clerks Regular.

One distinctive feature of the Methodist ecclesiology is that a deacon has a permanent ministry as a deacon. It is seen as an equal but offering something different from that of the presbyteral ministry.

History of the Order

Wesleyan Deaconesses and the Wesley Deaconess Order were founded by the Rev. Thomas Bowman Stephenson in 1890.[1] Deaconesses began to work overseas from 1894 following a request for a deaconess to serve in South Africa.[2] The Conference of the Methodist Church of 1998 admitted all existing members of the Methodist Diaconal Order into Full Connexion.[3]

Form of address

Formerly, deaconesses were addressed as Sister, but since the admission of men to the order, and once it became an order of ministry as well as a religious order, all members are now officially titled "Deacon". The term "deaconess" is no longer used.


There is no formal habit or uniform for a Methodist deacon: some deacons may decide to wear what is regarded as ‘traditional dress’ for the MDO – a navy blue suit and a white shirt of blouse, particularly for formal occasions, while others may feel that they would prefer to wear the polo shirts and sweat shirts commissioned by the MDO particularly if the circumstances are less formal. Deacons are permitted to wear clerical shirts; however, these must be navy blue or white and deacons must wear the diaconal order badge they were presented with at their Ordination.

Deacons are presented with a pectoral cross at their ordination. The cross of the MDO is an important identifier for Methodist deacons.


  1. "History of the MDO". Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  2. Graham, D., Relations between the Wesley Deaconess Order and the Missionary Society, accessed 26 December 2016
  3. Constitutional Practice and Discipline of the Methodist Church [of Great Britain], 2016

Further information

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