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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Completed Projects

Good Practice in Diaconal Ministry

A research project of the Department of Sociology.


There is increasing interest in the potential for a renewed Diaconate to enable Christian churches to engage in a wide range of ways within contemporary societies. However, there are also concerns about the substantial challenges for those individual ministers, churches and organisations which get involved in work of a diaconal character in the current context. In response to this, this research has been set up in partnership with the Warden of the Methodist Diaconal Order, Deacon Sue Culver, the Wesley Study Centre, and the Methodist Church of Great Britain.


The research aims to explore the opportunities, issues and challenges faced by Deacons in the Methodist Church of Great Britain in their work. The aim is to explore the understandings of their work and their experience of the dilemmas that this can raise, in order to inform future practice and organization of this work.


The approach being taken has been an innovative action research approach using questions to encourage reflection and help develop an improved understanding of this work. The project has included group interviews with deacons to explore their collective understandings, and a wide range of other participant observation research and individual interviews.


A final project report and related journal articles are being produced.


From the Department of Sociology

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