By The Rev. Deacon Clare Barry
Not only is the Rev. Brother Raymond Escott a Deacon, he is also a professed member of the Companions of St. Luke, a non-residential Benedictine Monastic Order in the Episcopal Church. Ray experienced his call to the Diaconate over a long period of time. Similar to other Deacons, he described his call as “a nagging call over the course of several years.” However, Ray could not respond to this because of raising three small children, which made it impossible for him to attend classes. When asked what the indicators of a call looked like, Ray stated that he "felt called to something in the parish in Florida.” He described pursing a number of lay licenses in Forida, but felt called to something more. While living in Florida, Ray went into discernment at St. Sebastian’s by the Sea in Melbourne Beach. He met with the rector of that parish to sort through the call. The rector agreed that Ray did have a call to Holy Orders, but was uncertain as to which Order. However, Ray could not attend the Institute of Christian Studies at the Cathedral of St. Luke due to work responsibilities as a retail manager.
A couple of years went by, and his family discerned, "we didn’t want to continue living in Florida." They took trips and decided to settle in Western North Carolina. Ray say he put Holy Orders "on the back-burner." He transferred his Lay Leader’s license to the Diocese of Western North Carolina. Ray attended Grace, Asheville and began serving as a Lay Leader. After the family moved to Waynesville, he moved his membership to St. Andrew's, Canton. Ray approached the rector there who felt that Ray was called to either the Priesthood or to the Diaconate. He committed six months to the formal discernment. The discernment committee felt Ray was called to the Diaconate. Ray and his rector met with Bishop Robert Johnson. Bishop Johnson said, “It’s about time.” Ray was encouraged to attend the Commission on Ministry overnight at Lake Logan.
Ray attended Deacon school in our diocese and studied at the four-year Education for Ministry program, a non-residential Theological education through Sewanee. On January 28th 2006 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Asheville, Bishop G. Porter Taylor ordained Ray to the Diaconate.
Ray’s ministry area is as a chaplain and employment specialist at Haywood Pathways Center. As a chaplain, he meets with residents to provide pastoral care or listen to them to suggest direction. Ray does not counsel or offer therapy. He assists residents in finding work, often after they get out of prison or the Haywood Detention Center. Ray performs pre-employment checks and collaborates with parole officers. He works with ministry employment partners. Ray involves parishioners at Grace, Waynesville heavily in his ministry area. Once a month, six to ten of the congregants at Grace arrive at Pathways as members of the cook team. Ray includes some of his experiences in his preaching as well as in the Adult Forum.
When asked about self care, Ray states,” I have to take full responsibility for that and establish priorities to relieve stress.” He prays for an hour each morning. Throughout the day, Ray says the four-fold Daily Office. Ray spends twenty to thirty minutes in the morning in silent time. Furthermore, he exercises each day for an hour. Ray models balance in his self care while he makes a difference in the lives of marginalized populations, a signature Diaconal vocation.