A deacon is a male member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who holds the Aaronic or lesser priesthood. The office of a deacon is the first office of the Aaronic Priesthood followed by teacher, priest and bishop. A worthy male can be ordained a deacon when at least twelve years old. To become a deacon, a man must be interviewed by the bishop to make sure that he is worthy to hold the priesthood. When he is found worthy, he is ordained by the laying on of hands by a man who is a worthy holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
This office in the priesthood has been a part of Christ’s Church from the beginning. In Philippians 1:1 Paul referred to “the bishops and deacons” in the Church. Paul refers again to the office of a deacon and how a deacon should act in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 when he said,
- Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre.
In the latter days, Christ’s Church and the priesthood were again restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Titus Billings, Serenes Burnett, and John Burk were the first deacons ordained in the restored Church between 1830 and 1831. Further information about the reestablishment of this office in the Church in the latter days can be found in the Doctrine and Covenants.
A deacon’s duties are:
- Follow counsel, set a good example, and may (1) pass the sacrament, (2) collect fast offerings, (3) care for the poor and needy, (4) be a standing minister appointed to ‘watch over the church’ (Doctrine and Covenants 84:111), (5) assist the bishopric, (6) serve as a messenger, (7) participate in quorum instruction, (8) serve in quorum leadership positions, (9) fellowship quorum members and other young men, (10) be baptized and confirmed for the dead, (11) speak in meetings, (12) share the gospel, (13) bear testimony, and (14) care for the meetinghouse and grounds. (from Offices and Duties of the Aaronic Priesthood at www.lds.org)
These duties all have to do with to the temporal or outward ordinances of Christ’s Church. Even the word deacon points to the fact that a deacon’s job is to serve. Deacon is derived from the Greek word diakonos (διάκονος), which is often translated "servant" or more specifically "waiter." When passing the sacrament, deacons are asked to dress appropriately and wear a white shirt and a tie so as not to divert people’s attention away from the purpose of the sacrament.