Once fallen into disuse as an inferior order used mainly as a stepping stone to the priesthood, the diaconate (order of deacons) has been restored in the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and several Protestant churches. In the Episcopal Church the diaconate is a full order equal to the presbyterate and the episcopate, and it plays an important role in many dioceses and congregations. As commonly used, the term refers to those ordained deacon as a permanent vocation. Those ordained deacon as a preliminary step toward ordination as a priest, as required by canon law, are called "transitional deacons." Many persons in the Episcopal Church question the theology and usefulness of the transitional diaconate, and want to restore direct ordination. See Deacon; see Direct Ordination.
Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.