What are the differences between a called deacon and a called vicar in the WELS? Can both preach, serve Communion, be a lector, etc.? What limitations does each position hold?
By “deacon” I understand that you are referring to a male staff minister. Calling bodies can give staff ministers titles like “deacon” as they determine the areas of responsibility in the person’s public ministry.
With that understanding and the activities listed in mind, a male staff minister is able to assist with the distribution of the Lord’s Supper and serve as a lector. While the male staff minister receives training in administration, youth and family, member care, outreach and assimilation, and education within the congregation, he does not receive training in preaching. While his training enables him to lead devotions, he is not prepared for regular preaching. Ordinarily, a vicar has received two years of seminary training in crafting and delivering sermons, so he will be preaching during his vicar year.
As far as limitations are concerned, a vicar is still a student of the seminary. Together with the congregation to which he is assigned, his supervising pastor will determine the scope of his activities. On the other hand, a male staff minister serves in a part-time or full-time position, carrying out responsibilities outlined in his call.
I hope this helps explain the differences between the two positions.