Saturday, June 28, 2014

Honouring the trail blazers.....

Phyllis Edwards (1917-2009)

(Source: Bob Williams, Episcopal Commons)
When Bishop James Pike of California declared Phyllis Edwards a deacon in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral in September 1965, he presented her with a stole and New Testament, traditional symbols of the diaconate. This was the first time a deaconess – an office of ministry held by women in the United States since 1855 – had been recognized as a deacon, an order of ministry to which only men previously had been ordained. While General Convention asserted in 1964 that deaconesses were “ordered” rather than appointed, it acted in 1970 to place deaconesses officially within the order of deacons. Starting the following year, 1971, women were ordained to the diaconate in concurring dioceses. Of the San Francisco rite, the Associated Press reported: “Bishop Pike draped a red stole over the right shoulder of the white-robed deaconess as a symbol of her ministry…. The rites found the 48-year-old widow bright-eyed, pink-cheeked and far more calm than her fellow clergymen at the altar.”
Women and men continue to be ordained specifically as deacons – one of Anglicanism’s three traditional orders of ministry – and charged as follows per the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: “As a deacon in the Church, you are to study the Holy
Scriptures, to seek nourishment from them, and to model your life upon them. You are to make Christ and his redemptive love known, by your word and example, to those among whom you live, and work, and worship. You are to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world. You are to assist the bishop and priests in public worship and in the ministration of God’s Word and Sacraments, and you are to carry out other duties assigned to you from time to time. At all times, your life and teaching are to show Christ’s people that in serving the helpless they are serving Christ himself.”
No account of the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate would be complete without recognizing not only the role of women ordained to the diaconate but also the ministries of laywomen across the church.

Earlier in the same year she was recognized as a deacon, Edwards marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery and continued in civil rights activism in California. In the course of this work, she spoke out on the similarities between oppression of African Americans and that of women. She had arrived in San Francisco in 1964 to serve in the Mission District.
In 1969, the Diocesan Press Service noted: “Deaconess Phyllis Edwards reportedly became the first woman in the history of the Diocese of California to be placed in charge of a local church when the Rt. Rev. C. Kilmer Myers named her acting vicar of St. Aidan's, San Francisco. She will serve while the vicar, the Rev. Robert Cromey is on leave, but will not celebrate the Holy Communion.”

Born in Chicago on April 13, 1917, Edwards died on July 7, 2009, in Forks, Washington, at age 92.
Reporting on the rites in which Phyllis Edwards was declared a deacon, the 1965 Associated Press article from San Francisco is here.
Episcopal News Service obituary by Lynette Wilson is here.

50 years of service in the diaconate

News from the Association for Episocopal Deacons:
Congratulations to Sister Priscilla Jean Wright of the Community of the Transfiguration, who celebrated 50 years of service in the diaconate on June 18, 2014. Sr. Priscilla is the last living deacon to have entered church service as a deaconess. When the canons changed in 1970, she became a deacon. Sr. Priscilla served the Navajo in Arizona and New Mexico and also served in the Dominican Republic where the Community of the Transfiguration had a ministry. 

Sr Priscilla Jean Wright

Association of Episcopal Deacons - ordinations

Congratulations to Deacons Dennis Coleman (St Peter's, Phoenixville) and Karen Kaminskas (Trinity Church, Coatesville) who were ordained to The Sacred Order of Deacons on June 14, 2014 in the African Episcopal Church of St Thomas in Philadelphia, by the Rt.Rev. Clifton Daniel. Also ordained were Dennis Reid and James Walton, both from Trinity Church, Ambler, and Martha Dixon Tucker, Trinity Church, Swarthmore.
Deacons Dennis Coleman and Karen Kaminskas

26th of each month - DIAKONIA prayer day

Great photo of Sr Doris Horn!
Sr Doris Horn (centre), immediate past President of DIAKONIA World Federation, reminds us of the call to prayer for DIAKONIA on the 26th day of each month. In what ways do you recognize the day, and what might help you in your prayers? Perhaps people could post prayers on the DIAKONIA Facebook site? In whatever way you recognize the day, please keep praying for our DIAKONIA World Federation and the member associations in Africa, Europe, Asia, Pacific, North America, South America, and the Caribbean.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Global Justice Volunteers in the Philippines

GJV training 2014
Great to see Emma Cantor providing leadership for the GJV training for the Asia Pacific region. Training takes place from June 22nd - 28th, followed by the period of service from June 30th to August 16th. The Global Justice Volunteers Program of Global Ministries is a short-term service opportunity for young adults ages eighteen to thirty, run by the Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church (USA).  Participants are from all over the world and serve all over the world. Small teams of volunteers spend ten weeks during the months of June through August exploring the links between faith and social justice as they work with local grassroots organizations. Volunteers work alongside their host community to address critical issues such as HIV and AIDS, poverty, human trafficking, and migrants’ rights. This program gives the volunteers the opportunity to develop new skills, to learn from local experts, and to channel their passion to help build just communities.

The Global Justice Volunteers Program of Global Ministries is a short-term service opportunity for young adults ages eighteen to thirty.  Participants are from all over the world and serve all over the world. Small teams of volunteers spend ten weeks during the months of June through August exploring the links between faith and social justice as they work with local grassroots organizations. Volunteers work alongside their host community to address critical issues such as HIV and AIDS, poverty, human trafficking, and migrants’ rights. This program gives the volunteers the opportunity to develop new skills, to learn from local experts, and to channel their passion to help build just communities. - See more at:
The Global Justice Volunteers Program of Global Ministries is a short-term service opportunity for young adults ages eighteen to thirty.  Participants are from all over the world and serve all over the world. Small teams of volunteers spend ten weeks during the months of June through August exploring the links between faith and social justice as they work with local grassroots organizations. Volunteers work alongside their host community to address critical issues such as HIV and AIDS, poverty, human trafficking, and migrants’ rights. This program gives the volunteers the opportunity to develop new skills, to learn from local experts, and to channel their passion to help build just communities. - See more at:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lutheran Deaconess Conference annual meeting

Lutheran Deaconess AssociationThe Lutheran Deaconess Conference (LDC) is the international community of deaconesses and students affiliated with the Lutheran Deaconess Association (LDA). Deaconesses and students within the community gather for spiritual growth and support. The LDC meets annually for renewal, prayer, worship, and professional growth. This year the LDC will hold its annual meeting from June 26th - 30th, 2014 in Kenosha, WI (USA). Pray for all those who participate, and those who have responsibility for the logistics and organisation, and for Lisa Polito, Executive Director, LDA.

Lisa Polito, Executive Director, LDA

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Jesus - at home amongst the homeless

The Rev. David Buck sits next to the Jesus the Homeless statue that was installed in front of his church, St. Alban's Episcopal, in Davidson, N.C.

In beginning to make plans for a memorial service for people who have died while homeless, I was intrigued to find this story about a bronze statue of a homeless man on a park bench, by Timothy P. Schmalz.

Inspired by Matthew: 25, the sculpture is a representation that suggests Christ is with the most marginalized in our society. The Christ figure is shrouded in a blanket the only indication that it is Jesus is the visible wounds on the feet. The life-size version of the work has enough room that someone is able to sit on the bench. It has generated quite a bit of discussion on Facebook!

There's even a smaller version that could be part of an installation. 
Table of Hope by Joey Valasco (with Manila street children who are homeless)
In conversation with a friend in the Philippines about the statue, she said it reminded her of a painting by an artist who painted the faces of homeless street children in Manila as part of the Last Supper, titled 'Table of Hope' by Joey Valasco. Jesus amongst the homeless. Very powerful.

The 12 children in the painting are real people the painter, Joey Velasco,  discovered in poor areas of Metro Manila and Quezon City. After treating them to meals, Velasco took their pictures and retreated to his room to start working on the painting.
Velasco said, the children, aged 4-14, reveal a story of a greater hunger than a plate of rice could satisfy. He said, “It was they who touched my soul. Through them, God spoke to me and moved me to paint their stories and tell others about their lives.”
The young girl standing at the extreme left, where Judas appears in the da Vinci painting, is 10-year-old Nene. Velasco met her at the Manila North Cemetery, where she and her family lived as squatters among the graves. Onse, 9, sits at the table, his plate cleaned to the last crumb, he listens to Jesus to feed his other hungers. The child, who scavenges with a push cart, has a father addicted to drugs and a mother who works as a strip dancer. Itok, another scavenger who at 11 is the family breadwinner, sits at the right hand of Jesus. According to Velasco, Itok spent time in jail after being caught in a number of robberies. Another child in the painting does not live in Quezon City. Velasco placed a small Sudanese boy under the table eating the fallen scraps with the cats. The artist explained, “The skinny child is not one of the hungry kids who roam our busy streets at night. He is “an imaginary symbolic figure” who in the past “had satisfied himself with unnecessary food, (but) now finds himself under the table seeking spiritual crumbs.” The children featured in the painting are no longer in the areas where Velasco originally found them. Through his partnership with Gawad Kalinga, an organization dedicated to sheltering the homeless, the 12 children and their families now have homes at Romeo Cabrera Village in Quezon City.

The children’s stories are  featured in the book “They Have Jesus: The Stories of the Children of the ‘Hapag ng Pag-asa (Table of Hope).’”

Here's another link to Joey Valasco.
Here's a link to the launch of the book where he also talks about his painting (Youtube) - be sure to read the words of Joey at the launch that are placed underneath the video on Youtube. The video is very heartfelt and moving.

We offer our prayers for all women and men, boys, and girls who are homeless this day......
For families broken because they could not afford to pay the rent.
For those who have no relatives or friends who can take them in.
For those who have no place to keep possessions that remind them who they are.
For those who are afraid and hopeless.
For those who have been betrayed by our social safety net.
For all these people, we pray that you will provide shelter, security and hope.
Jesus, help us to help to see your face in the eyes of every homeless person we meet so that we may be empowered through word and deed to bring justice and peace to those who are homeless. Amen.
[adapted from prayer by Carol Penner]

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Diaconate: A Flagship Ministry?

The Diaconate: A flagship ministry? by Paul Avis, published in Theology and Ministry 2 Journal - here's a link to the article.

"The diaconate has been in a state of ferment in many churches for decades and the debate shows no sign of ending. Why are churches wrestling with diaconal ministry to this extent? Individual deacons may well be blessed with a fruitful ministry, but the churches are struggling to identify just what a deacon is. Why is the issue proving so difficult? Does it mean that we cannot make sense of the diaconate, that it is an enigma that we cannot resolve,an insoluble problem? I take the diaconate to be indeed the most problematic but, at the same time, the most promising of all the ministries of the Church. I believe that the way to greater clarity about the diaconate depends on our willingness to allow our understanding of diakonia to become conformed to the paradigm that we find in the New Testament, particularly, though not exclusively, in the letters of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles. The churches have been agonising endlessly about the diaconate, but in this paper I shall argue that much of their perplexity is created by theologising on a false premise concerning biblical interpretation".
Paul Avis was General Secretary of the Church of England’s Council for Christian Unity from 1998 to 2011, and later served as Theological Consultant to the Anglican Communion Office, London. He is now retired.

Moments in time - reflections on ordination and consecration

It has been great to learn about the recent ordinations and consecrations amongst the diaconal community of DIAKONIA (scroll down for some news through LDA, and Indonesian sisters in IKADIWA). A time of joyful celebration in many places, cultures and languages, but all drawn together into the family of God, serving in many different ways but all part of the body of Christ.
I came across this ordination anniversary reflection posted here and it invited me to think about what it might mean for all of us to reflect upon our own ordination/consecration/commissioning on each anniversary. (I'd welcome any written reflections!)

Ordination Anniversary

Called out to serve, not long ago
yet seems it’s been forever.
A calling tailor-made, for me
To use the gifts God gave.
If have one regret it’s this.
Why did I wait so long
to heed the voice that nudged my soul
and asked again, again, “’Who’ll go for me?”
Has life been wasted?
Heedless hours spent for myself,
which could have been
my gift to you.
But no! Those years have made me what I am,
and when the time was right,
you caught me up and carried me
on angel wings, so fast it seemed.
I flew to meet your day, and answered
“Here I am Send me.”
So thank you Lord, for calling me
To share for you the awesome task
Of bringing love alive in dark, forgotten corners,
where hearts ache to feel your Spirit’s flame
and be warmed back to life.
Thank you for the joy that bubbles up
and inspiration out of nowhere, when I least expect.
For walking by my side, and when I fall,
for being there to pick me up with tender arms.
God give me faith to walk with you
into the future you have planned for me.
Increase my trust and use my talents.
Make me brave to meet your Day,
(whenever that may be)
when you will call, and by your grace
I’ll hear an echo of familiar words,
“Well done, my faithful servant.”

Consecration of Valerie Hubbard Webdell

It is a joy to celebrate significant moments in the lives of diaconal ministry agents, and this time it is the consecration of Valerie Hubbard Webdell as a deaconess in the Lutheran Deaconess Association, on Friday 13th June. We hold you in our prayers and thoughts, Valerie.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Prayers for peace

(This is an adapted version of the text I used at Pilgrim Uniting Church in the prayers for others in the service on Pentecost Sunday)

On the day of Pentecost, we are told that Jews from many different places – a symbol for the whole world at the time – had gathered for the Festival of Shavuot.
The word Pentecost means fifty. The number fifty points to fullness, to ripeness, to a time that is ready for something to happen.

There is a remarkable gathering that took place on Pentecost Sunday I wanted to let you know about, that recognizes that this is indeed a time more than ready for something to happen.

President Abbas & President Peres
When Pope Francis visited the Middle East last month, he secured a promise from Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to join him at the Vatican to pray for peace on Pentecost Sunday. Jewish chief rabbis, the Muslim mufti of Jerusalem, and some Christian leaders also joined the gathering for prayer. These leaders, religious and political, committed to join together to pray for a resolution, and for peace, and a way for both nations - Palestinian and Israeli - to live side by side, with peace and justice and reconciliation and equality. They want to see Jerusalem as a shared city between three religions and two states.

Bishop Munib Younan

What the Pope has done is very symbolic, and unprecedented. One religious leader (Bishop Munib Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and President of the Lutheran World Federation) expressed it this way, ‘We have a role to teach our people: to love the neighbour, so that Israelis will see the image of God in me, a Palestinian, and that I will see the image of God in the Israeli’. 

Following the prayers, the Pope and the two Presidents, planted an olive tree in a symbolic call for peace. The Vatican called the event 'a pause from politics', and affirmed that not everything is decided by politics alone. 

Let us join our spirits in prayer with those who have prayed on Pentecost Sunday in the Vatican, for peace, justice, reconciliation and equality in Israel, and for many other places around the world where the seeds of peace are yet to be planted, and where the gift of peace is yet to bloom, and where the flowers of peace have been trampled underfoot.

After a time of silence, I will light the peace lamp, made by people in a small Christian village in Israel. The workshop where the peace lamps are produced provides employment for more than 20 men and women, who would otherwise need to leave their village and seek employment elsewhere. It is hoped that a peace lamp will be placed in every church in the world, and unite people of faith in a common prayer for peace in the Holy Land.

Let us offer our own prayers for peace.
A silence is held for silent prayers.

Lighting of the candle in the peace lamp.


Welcome to new Deaconesses in Indonesia

On the weekend, new Deaconesses in IKADIWA HKBP (Indonesian Deaconess Association) were ordained at Gereja HKBP, Rianiate (North Sumatra). Here are some Facebook photos of the event. Congratulations to the new deaconesses.

Schools Immersion Program - reflections on Pentecost Sunday

(an edited version of my sermon from Pentecost Sunday on 8th June at Pilgrim Uniting Church - audio version on website, click on 'hear here' on top bar. Biblical texts were Acts 2 and John 20:19-23)

This week I have been involved in planning and leading a city immersion with 75 Year 11 high school students from Victoria. For most of the students, they had expected the five days in Adelaide would just be a chance to hang out with their friends. But the retreat program I was asked to plan focused on social justice. Quite a gulf in terms of expectations and one, in hindsight, that could have derailed the program I had planned. The program included large and small groups of the students involved in:

A visit to Inverbrackie Detention Centre (refugees and asylum seekers); attending a baptism of two Iranian children from Inverbrackie; listening to the stories of refugees; ten pin bowling with disadvantaged people through RecLink; a visit to Parliament House with Hon Kelly Vincent (Independent member, Dignity for Disability party); a visit to the law courts; visiting programs in a church supporting refugees and asylum seekers and offering welfare programs; time spent at a church in their café and op shop and hearing about the community work they do; visiting a Salvation Army centre and seeing facilities for homeless people, detox programs, sobering up unit and support for Aboriginal people; hearing about advocacy work for Aboriginal people; reconciliation with Aboriginal people and the Recognise campaign; a workshop with Amnesty International: spending time with Aboriginal women; spending time with women who have experienced domestic violence and are in safe housing; spending time with young women who are pregnant or already parents in their teenage years; learning about the stories behind the vendors of The Big Issue, and learning more about homelessness.

There were many more activities and visits in the program; the social justice issues the students encountered were very diverse, engaging and challenging.

In the student presentations on Friday, the last day of the city immersion, the students described what they had experienced. For many, the city immersion had been a life changing experience. Student after student spoke about the way stereotypes had been challenged, about the ways their awareness had been raised and attitudes changed. In a very real way, the students saw the church in action beyond the ‘four walls’ - engaged in the community with real needs and pressing issues. It invited them to a bigger understanding about the church, and the church’s involvement in social justice. It assisted in enlarging their faith, from a limited individualistic understanding, to see faith spilling over into engagement with the community. To see faith as something that naturally invites us to people on the margins, where Jesus spent so much of his own time.

It invited the students to dream dreams - dreams of peace, reconciliation, liberation, freedom, forgiveness, and where people might be all they were meant to be without fear, oppression, violence and disadvantage. What might happen as these young people continue to open themselves to the creative and renewing energy of God’s Spirit?

If these are the visions that these young people have, what are your own dreams you long to see – in and through the church, and in the world? What dreams are shared in common with these young people, that unites us as together we look beyond the walls of the church. In this place, in this building, we gather, for worship and renewal. And each week, we are sent from this place, this building, blessed, to be a blessing. The ongoing rhythm of gathering to be ‘church’, and the sending to be ‘church’ engaged in the world.

Pentecost invites us into a bigger picture. The Gospel reading takes us once again to the room where the disciples are huddled together for fear of the authorities. And Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on them. The Acts 2 reading tells us that they were still in waiting mode - this time with a larger group of people. Now the disciples were not fearful but expectant, eager to see the revelation of what God would do in their midst that would surely transform the lives of all those present. God’s spirit is poured out on ‘all flesh’ – male and female, old and young, slave and free, and people of all cultures. It is the dawn of a new era, the birth of the ‘church’.

Here, in these two readings, we see the journey from private to public, coming out from behind closed doors where the disciples had hidden, and moving beyond the protection of safe walls into the public domain. The movement from privatized pietistic belief to that expressed in concrete public engagement. A line from the baptismal service says, faith is personal but never private. Faith calls us to be engaged in the public square.

The language groups and cultures present at Pentecost shows that from the outset the community was inclusive, multi-cultural and cross-cultural. The Uniting Church proudly names itself as a multicultural church, requiring from us an openness, one to the other, so that
relationships can be built that are based on mutual respect, collaboration and recognition of the gifts and calling of peoples of diverse cultural and language backgrounds. “Differences can actually enrich and enliven what we share, if we can reach across what separates us, not only in language and culture but also in religious upbringing, economic class, educational background, and basic personality types. If we learn to communicate effectively, to hear what God is still speaking today, we will hear a call, together, that may astound us and gather us into something more effective and more amazing that we have been before.  Underneath the differences of nationality and language, there was a fundamental unity”. (Kate Huey)

Today, the question for us may be how to reach across boundaries that divide us, be they ecumenical or interfaith conversations and controversies; customs and traditions; age and experiences; gender and orientation; and multi-racial, multi-cultural, and inter-cultural ways of relating one to the other. The Spirit draws us all together in the one body of Christ, an embodiment of Christ we name as ‘church’. At its best, the church is a potent symbol to the world of unity and diversity, respect and mutuality, enlivened by God's Spirit, and following the example of Jesus Christ as he gathered a disparate band of followers drawn together into one inclusive community. The disciples had three years to watch and observe Jesus, and then to accept the mantle handed to them to continue all that they had seen and done.

God is up to something in this time and this place - and we are invited to get on board with God’s transforming work in the world. May it be so. Amen.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Martyr Cyriacus the Deacon of Rome

A walk through history, and the hard life of the early Christians. (source: OCA)

St Cyriacus the deacon suffered at Rome along with the hieromartyr Marcellus, Bishop of Rome, the holy deacon Sisinius; also Smaragdus, Largus, Apronian, Saturninus, Crescentian, Papias and Maurus and the holy women martyrs Priscilla, Lucy and the Emperor’s daughter Artemia during the persecution of Diocletian and Maximian (284-305) and their successors, Galerius (305-311) and Maxentius (305-312).
The emperor Maximian, ruler of the Western Roman Empire, deprived all Christians of military rank and sent them into penal servitude.
A certain rich Christian, Thrason, sent food and clothing to the prisoners through the Christians Sisinius, Cyriacus, Smaragdus and Largus. Marcellus thanked Thrason for his generosity, and ordained Sisinius and Cyriacus as deacons.
While rendering aid to the captives, Sisinius and Cyriacus also were arrested and condemned to harsh labor. They fulfilled not only their own work quota, but worked also for the dying captive Saturninus. Therefore, Maximian sent Sisinius to Laodicius, the governor of the district.
They locked the saint in prison. The head of the prison, Apronian, summoned Sisinius for interrogation but, seeing his face shine with a heavenly light, he believed in Christ and was baptized. Later, he went with Sisinius to Marcellus and received Chrismation. Marcellus served the Liturgy, and they partook of the Holy Mysteries.
On June 7, Sts Sisinius and Saturninus were brought before Laodicius in the company of Apronian. Apronian confessed that he was a Christian, and was beheaded. Sts Sisinius and Saturninus were thrown into prison. Then Laodicius gave orders to bring them to a pagan temple to offer sacrifice. Saturninus said, “If only the Lord would turn the pagan idols into dust!”
At that very moment the tripods, on which incense burned before the idols, melted. Seeing this miracle, the soldiers Papias and Maurus confessed Christ. After prolonged tortures Sisinius and Saturninus were beheaded, and Papias and Maurus were locked up in prison, where they prayed to receive illumination by holy Baptism. The Lord fulfilled their desire. Leaving the prison without being noticed, they received Baptism from Marcellus and returned to the prison.
At the trial they again confessed themselves Christians and died under terrible tortures. Their holy bodies were buried by the priest John and Thrason.
Sts Cyriacus, Smaragdus, Largus and other Christian prisoners continued to languish at hard labor.
Diocletian’s daughter Artemia suffered from demonic oppression. Having learned that the prisoner Cyriacus could heal infirmities and cast out devils, the emperor summoned him to the sick girl. In gratitude for the healing of his daughter, the emperor freed Cyriacus, Smaragdus and Largus. Soon the emperor sent Cyriacus to Persia to heal the daughter of the Persian emperor.
Upon his return to Rome, Cyriacus was arrested on orders of the emperor Galerius, the son-in-law of Diocletian, who had abdicated and retired as emperor. Galerius was very annoyed at his predecessor because his daughter Artemia had converted to Christianity. He gave orders to drag Cyriacus behind his chariot stripped, bloodied, and in chains, to be shamed and ridiculed by the crowds.
Marcellus denounced the emperor openly before everyone for his cruelty toward innocent Christians. The emperor ordered the holy bishop to be beaten with rods, and dealt severely with him. Sts Cyriacus, Smaragdus, Largus, and another prisoner, Crescentian, died under torture. And at this time the emperor’s daughter Artemia and another twenty-one prisoners were also executed with Cyriacus.
Marcellus was secretly freed by Roman clergy. Exhuming the bodies of the holy martyrs Cyriacus, Smaragdus and Largus, they reburied them on the estates of two Christian women, Priscilla and Lucy, on the outskirts of Rome, after they had transformed Lucy’s house into a church.
Ascending the throne, Maxentius gave orders to destroy the church and turn it into a stockyard, and he sentenced the holy bishop to herd the cattle. Exhausted by hunger and cold, and wearied by the tortures of the soldiers, Marcellus became ill and died in the year 310.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ben Ema's consecration as Lutheran Deacon

In 2011, the Lutheran Deaconess Association Board of Directors voted to accept men into the LDA's diaconate. Ben Ema has been serving as the first President of the Community of Lutheran Deacons (CLD) which includes men who are deacons or deacon students.

Ben by profession is a nursing student at Valparaiso University. He has now completed his requirements for formation to be a Lutheran Deacon, and his consecration service will be on Sunday June 8th in the afternoon, to be held at the Chapel of the Resurrection at Valparaiso University, 1600 Chapel Drive, Valparaiso, Indiana.

This is a very exciting time for Ben, and historically a very significant time as Ben will be the first Lutheran Deacon (through the LDA) to be consecrated.

Congratulations, Ben! 

(If you wish to send a greeting to congratulate Ben, perhaps you can communicate via Lisa Polito (Executive Director, LDA) or via the Facebook World DIAKONIA page)

Deacon Students 2013
Ben Ema (centre back) with other students - Elliott Stephenson, Steve Arnold, Andrew Stoebig, and Jack Walter
Rev Bill Loader has several 'charges' for new Deacons in the Uniting Church in Australia. This one is adapted for Ben. 

You have become a member of an order which has taken many forms over the course of the church’s life.
Like all ministries it finds its origin and its life in the ministry of Jesus Christ.
All are called to ministry.
All are called to share God’s life in the world, whether in formal acts of worship or hands-on actions of care.
All orders of ministry which have been put in place in the church to make this possible participate in this same wide range of ministry.
They vary in the focus and intensity of their activities rather than in their range.
As a Deacon your primary focus will be offering leadership in this wide range of ministry as it expresses itself in acts of caring service in the world. You will do more than this, but this is the concentration that belongs especially to your order.
To engage in leadership includes leadership by example.
You will pray for people.
You will care for people.
You will bring to people in word and deed the good news of hope and love.
To engage in leadership also includes teaching.
You will dream dreams and see visions and tell what you have seen.
You will help people understand how to care, what they are caring about and why.
You will help people make connections between themselves and their faith and their world.
To engage in leadership also includes prophecy and protest.
You will not only see the poor, but identify the structures which create and sustain poverty.
You will not only see injustices, but identify the powers at work whose interests are served by injustice.
You will not only comfort the broken-hearted, but cry out to God with them in the impenetrable darkness where no answers are ever visible.
When the sands blow and the dry winds buffet you, stand firm,
As you have stood firm before.
The buds that have long been forming will wait their time
And then the colour will come
And you will surprise yourself again with beauty and strength.
Sink your roots deeply,
for new seasons await you,
new fruit to form, new seeds to spread,
borne by the naturalness of your spirituality.
Don't be afraid to penetrate deeply into the rich soil of scripture beneath the surface mulch
which keeps it warm and makes it look nice;
People need depth and you can give it to them.
At times you will hum with insects, flies, and bees
and kweech with squawking birds.
Enjoy the buzz and challenge of ministry,
but treasure also the times of silent renewal.

For you are not asked to carry the world on your shoulders.
You are not to be held accountable for every human need.
There will be times when you must close your eyes, not in denial, but because you can only see so much.
There are times when you must rest, not in carelessness, but in deliberate nurture of your own being.
You do not have to do everything, so you can be free to face human need without the trickeries of denial and without the self indulgence of despair.
Such freedom from yourself will mean you will be best available to others.
You will be free to affirm joy and to affirm pain
and to be yourself and bear fruit in ministry.