Deacon honoured by peers

Two Black women stand and speak while seated participants listen.
The Rev. Claudette Taylor (centre left) and Tamique Erskine lead the Turning Tables: Anger, (In)justice and Solidarity workshop at the diocese’s annual Outreach and Advocacy Conference in 2018.
 on September 1, 2019

The Rev. Claudette Taylor, a deacon at Epiphany and St. Mark, Parkdale, has been honoured by her peers in Canada and the United States.

Ms. Taylor, who is an Ambassador of Reconciliation in the Diocese of Toronto, received the Association of Episcopal Deacons’ 2019 Stephen’s Award at the group’s conference in Rhode Island in June. The award recognizes diaconal ministry in the tradition of St. Stephen.

“It was very humbling and overwhelming,” says Ms. Taylor. “I feel this award is not so much about me as it is about the work done by all the deacons in the Anglican Communion, and in our diocese in particular.”

There are about 50 deacons across the diocese. A deacon is an ordained person who is a servant minister, doing work in charity, social justice and pastoral care. They enable people to carry out their baptismal promise to seek and serve Christ in all persons.

A deacon for the past seven years, Ms. Taylor says her work is all about social justice and inclusivity. “I truly believe that is the gospel of Christ, so that is what I have focussed on.”

As an Ambassador of Reconciliation, she has helped her parish understand Indigenous issues through events such as the Blanket Exercise and organizing trips to Six Nations of the Grand River. She has also raised up the contributions of black Anglicans to the Church and the wider community.

“I focus on how we, as the people of God in our diocese, can embrace each other and reconcile,” she says. “I always ask, how can we work together to enrich and understand each other and join each other in faith?”

Ms. Taylor is a member of the diocese’s Social Justice and Advocacy Committee. She also started the Social Ministry Group at her church, providing hospitality to members of the congregation and the neighbourhood through a community barbecue.

She says she enjoys being a deacon. “It teaches me and humbles me and makes me think what the gospel is really about.”

Deacons are vital to the Church, she says. “Deacons are important because they bring us back to the crux of what Jesus was saying. What is it like to truly live a Christian life? As a deacon, you see the good, the bad and the ugly. It not only humbles you but allows you to examine yourself – who are you and how do you get the message of Christ to these people, not be preaching to them but engaging with them in some way?”

About 14 deacons from the diocese attended the conference in June, with financial assistance from The John Strachan Trust. The conference included workshops on food security and advocacy for refugees, immigrants and asylum-seekers. Bishop Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, was the keynote speaker.


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