One of the notable features of many of the “call” stories in the Bible — Abraham, Moses, Jonah, David, Paul — is that the one who is called is often reluctant, or even outright resistant, to the call. In many cases, they are not obvious leaders. Moses tells God he’s not fit to serve because he has a speech impediment, Jonah doesn’t want any part of the mission God has in mind for him and Paul (or Saul, as he was called before his conversion), is actively persecuting the infant Christian community when he is chosen to carry the message of Christ to the Gentiles.

Each of these figures had to live into his call by listening to what God was saying and trusting that he would be able to do what was called for. Each of them grew in time into the leader the people of God needed.

John Arrison of Belfast, a member of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church and a postulant for the diaconate, is in this tradition. Raised a Presbyterian, he became an Episcopalian in his 20s and started attending St. Margaret’s in 1998. He acknowledged that even a few years ago, he had never thought of becoming a deacon. Now, he is the coordinator of partnerships between Episcopal churches in Maine and those in Haiti for the Episcopal Diocese of Maine; he’s also the diocesan liaison for St. Margaret’s Haiti partnership with St. Etienne’s church in Limonade, Haiti.

In his diocesan role, Arrison visits churches around Maine to encourage them to start partnerships with churches in Haiti, and to help them get those relationships started.

His own call came at Easter in 2008, he said. That day, he was pulled aside — first by the rector at the time, the Rev. Kent Tarpley, and less than an hour later by fellow parishioner Ellen Kenney — and asked if he’d ever considered becoming a deacon. Having these two people raise the same question about his vocation so close together “made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.”

His reaction was a sort of “aha.” He said he wondered why the idea of becoming a deacon hadn’t occurred to him before, because once it was brought up, it “felt like a good match.”

Arrison grew up in Long Island, N.Y., Darien, Conn., and Cleveland. He described himself as “a fourth-generation Maine tourist,” saying his family vacationed on Mt. Desert Island when he was a boy. He acquired a love of sailing from his father.

When he went to college at MIT, he studied naval architecture, and worked for a time in the 1980s at Bath Iron Works. He moved to Belfast in 1994 to work at Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, where he ran the library and archives. He left there in 2006.

Toward the end of his time at PMM, he took a three-month leave of absence when his father died, and used that time to reflect on where he wanted his life to go next.

In addition to his Haiti-related work, Arrison has several local ministries. He sings in his church choir, and with VoXX (for Voice of Twenty), formerly known as Ave Maris Stella. He also visits with sailors aboard some of the ships that come into the port of Searsport, drawing on his maritime background.

He got involved in the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity through his former spiritual director, the Rev. Ken Parker, who until recently was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Belfast. Parker retired in October and moved to Brunswick.

He has also lately begun wanting to find a way to minister to older people who have lost their spouse.

He said there is not much deacons can do that laypeople cannot, but the diaconate, because of its visibility, is “an opportunity to go out to the community and serve as Jesus served,” and to “bring the needs, joys and concerns of the larger community back to the church.”

Though some deacons play a large role in church services, Arrison wants to “embolden, empower and enable the laity to carry out their baptismal ministry.” He noted that deacons do not usually answer to a priest, but to their diocesan bishop, and they are able to serve in positions that cover the entire diocese.

He will be in the process of becoming a deacon for two or three more years, with several stages along the way, including clinical pastoral education and eventually an exam. If he’s successful, he will be ordained by the bishop.

Very much an extrovert, Arrison said in the last couple of years he has come to appreciate the importance of solitude and refreshment in order to “meet people where they are.” He draws spiritual sustenance from hiking and sailing, and also from “the joy and humanness that I experience in other people.”

He said he is humbled by the magnitude of hunger and poverty and the realizing that these problems can only be addressed through the love of God.

He likes the fact that “the diaconate is very varied — that’s just like me.”