The Rev. Johnine V. Byrer, Deacon

“…make her a deacon in your church.” These words are from the Book of Common Prayer at the service for the Ordination of a Deacon. These words were pronounced over Johnine at her ordination in 2002 in the Diocese of New Jersey. What is it that will make me a deacon in the church?

The Examination words explain Johnine’s vocation perfectly. “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are to serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely. As a deacon in the Church, you are to study the Holy Scriptures, to seek nourishment from them. You are to make Christ and his redemptive love known, by your word and example, to those whom you live, and work, and worship. You are to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world. You are to assist the bishop and priests in public worship and in the ministration of God’s Word and Sacraments, and you are to carry out other duties assigned to you from time to time. At all times, your life and teaching are to show Christ’s people that in serving the helpless they are serving Christ himself.”

This is a monumental list of tasks to fulfill. There are no specifics. There is, however, a charge for Johnine to find new and creative ways to show my fellow ministers in the church, all of you, how to humbly serve others, and in so doing, serve Christ. Johnine is to be the bridge between the church and the world. She is to bring the needs of the world to the church and vice versa. Johnine is to empower the faithful to holy service to those in any kind of need outside the church walls. We are together given the charge to make our work for Christ holy by our words and actions.

During the worship service, a deacon reads the gospel, sets the table, announces the prayers, distributes communion, preaches, sends out the Lay Eucharistic Visitors and gives the dismissal. A deacon cannot absolve, bless, or consecrate, which are roles set aside for priests and bishops.

Johnine will serve under the direction and guidance of the bishop of the diocese as well as our rector, Rev. Kathy Andonian.

Johnine and her husband, Donald moved from Whitehouse Station, New Jersey to Harleysville at the end of September 2015. They have been married going on 44 years. They have four adult children. Karin and her husband, Eric live in Hamden, CT. Jonathan and his wife, Kristen and our two grandchildren, Elora and Lincoln live in Jackson, Maine. Michael lives in Tucson, Arizona and Anne lives in Portland, Oregon. As you can see their children live all over the country so they have great places to visit. They also have a Goldendoodle named Sienna who keeps them entertained.

Johnine was a Special Education teacher, graduating with a bachelor and master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University. She taught individuals as young as 7 years old and as old as 70 years old. She retired from public school teaching in 2006, where she was teaching high schools students with developmental delays and then she continued for five more years teaching English as a Second Language to adults. She loves to travel, read, and quilt/sew. Johnine plays the harp and she loves to paint with watercolors. Beginning in September of 1999, Johnine began the process to become a Vocational Deacon in the Episcopal Church. Johnine was ordained in 2002 after three years of study. Johnine served as the deacon at Church of the Holy Spirit in Lebanon, New Jersey for almost fourteen years until coming to Harleysville. Her main ministry in the world is Prison Ministry, which has changed her life significantly. Johnine feels extremely fortunate to have been led to the faith community of Church of the Holy Spirit in Harleysville.

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