Diaconal Studies

Lived Theology for the Church in North America

Diakonia is essential to the church’s mission and ministry in North America. Such is the premise of “Revitalizing the Church through Diaconal Studies in North American Theological Education,” a research project of Warburg Theological Seminary. A four person leadership team (Craig Nessan, Man Hei Yip, Darryl W. Stephens, and Lori Mills-Curran) has met monthly since April 2021 to envision, plan, and carry out this collaboration involving 22 scholars and reflective practitioners spanning five continents.

Ecumenical diakonia encompasses Christian motivated social service, community development, justice, and human rights. The goal of diaconal ministry is to empower individuals and communities through God to become the agents of change in their own communities for the flourishing of all creation.

This exploration of diakonia expands horizons ecumenically and supports the emergence of diaconal studies as a field of study in North America. Diaconal studies is an existing field of study in other parts of the world, notably in Scandinavia and Germany. Now, North American seminarians and church leaders can benefit from this history of vitalizing and revitalizing the church’s ministry in the world, placing the “diaconate of all believers” alongside the “priesthood of all believers” as integral aspects of discipleship.

Participants are catalyzing an ecumenical, lived theology for the revitalization of the church. By working together through a collaborative methodology, they model the spirit of diakonia with each other through presentations and writings. Participants stir each other’s imagination by speaking from their own contexts about the meaning and purpose of the diaconate and writing constructively about the transformative potential of diakonia for the church today.


“Revitalizing the Church through Diaconal Studies in North American Theological Education” is a project of Wartburg Theological Seminary and is supported by grants from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies.

The Book

Diaconal Studies: Lived Theology for the Church in North America is under contract with Regnum Books International. Publication is expected in late 2024. For details, click here.