Friday, September 26, 2014

DOTAC Central Committee

2014 DOTAC Central Committee
A great photo of the DOTAC Central Committee, meeting in Ashland, Nebraska this week.
Back row:
Sharilynn Upsdell, Larry Nicolay, Rick Tettau, Lisa Polito (President), Ingrit Vogt, Sister Mary Arie, Becky Louter, Margaret Robertson.
Front row: Pamela Nesbit, Jan Cherry, Gillian Wilson, Judy Whaley
What a great team!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Anglican Deacons in Canada gather

adapted from an article by Cydney Proctor

Anglican Deacons in Canada
A group of about 55 Deacons from the Association of Anglican Deacons in Canada (AADC) met in August to reflect on their ministry and support each other in their vocation, as part of the 2014 Conference, Servants by the Sea.

In the Anglican Church of Canada, there are about 340 ordained vocational deacons who work in the parish context and do not draw a salary. In the ordination process, the bishop sums up the role and duties of a deacon by saying, “God now calls you to a special ministry of servanthood…You are to study the Holy Scriptures, to seek nourishment from them, and to model your life upon them.”

The association was formed in 2003 after the need for a community of Canadian deacons became clear a few years prior to the 1999 meeting of the North American Association of the Diaconate (NAAD). It has since hosted five conferences across the country and its membership has grown to 77. Members of the AADC can also become members of its sister organization, the Association of Episcopal Deacons (AED), formerly part of NAAD. Five members of the EDC have joined the AADC to support their Canadian counterparts.

The 2014 conference, Servants by the Sea, opened with an address from the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, who spoke passionately about what deacons are called to do, including to struggle against poverty and inequality. “What I want to dwell on is your ministry in the name of the compassionate Christ,” said Hiltz. “In all you do, to those you tend, you are the feet, the hands, the heart, the voice of Jesus…you are that salt, that flavours for good. Thank you for all you do.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

UN Climate Summit 2014 - 23rd September

Climate change is not a far-off problem. It is happening now and is having very real consequences on people’s lives. Climate change is disrupting national economies, costing us dearly today and even more tomorrow.  But there is a growing recognition that affordable, scalable solutions are available now that will enable us all to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies.
There is a sense that change is in the air. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders, from government, finance, business, and civil society to Climate Summit 2014 on 23 September to galvanize and catalyze climate action.  He has asked these leaders to bring bold announcements and actions to the Summit that will reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015. Climate Summit 2014 provides a unique opportunity for leaders to champion an ambitious vision, anchored in action that will enable a meaningful global agreement in Paris in December 2015.

Monday, September 22, 2014

International Day of Peace

How did you and/or your community mark/celebrate International Day of Peace on September 21st? 

In Fiji, the Methodist Church in Fiji, in partnership with ECREA and the UN created a space for a Ecumenical/Interdenominational Church Service to mark the 2014 International Day of Peace - Peace Sunday with worship and prayer. The theme for the service was “Living the Peace of the Kingdom”. 
'As we conclude our national elections and look to the future, it was a moving opportunity to come together to recommit this nation to being a just, peaceful and inclusive society, where God's shalom can flow freely'. Lot of photos here.

DOTAC Central Committee meets this week

Deaconess Lisa Polito, President, DOTAC
Please hold the DOTAC Central Committee in your prayers as they meet this week near Ashland, Nebraska. Deaconess Lisa Polito is DOTAC President, and will be leading the meeting this week.
Some of the DOTAC Central Committee meeting this week (photo: Judy Whaley)
Lisa has invited anyone living in the area to an afternoon of conversation with DOTAC and other diaconal ministry people on Thursday - a great way to connect, listen, get a sense of the 'big picture' of DOTAC responsibilities, and have your say about diaconal ministry.

DOTAC has membership from 12 associations in North America, South America and the Caribbean. It gives attention to ways to: 
* explore various perspectives on diaconal ministry
* make ecumenical and international links to diaconal groups
* network to share information of education and formation for diaconal ministry
* pursue common mission initiatives
* connect with others in ministries of service, justice and reconciliation.

Igrea Evangélica de Confissao Luterana no Brasil
Diaconal Ministers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, ELCIC
Diakonia of the United Church of Canada, DUCC
Wesley Diaconal Community of the Methodist Church in Caribbean and the Americas
United States of America:
Deaconess Community of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Diaconal Ministers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, ELCALutheran Deaconess Association
Association for Episcopal Deacons - The Episcopal Church
United Methodist Church Deacons and Diaconal Ministers
United Methodist Church Offices of Deaconesses, Home Missioners and Home Missionaries

Descriptors of diaconal ministry

I discovered these lovely images online by Deaconess Judy Whaley, descriptors of diaconal ministry - serving at the table, tending the door, footwashing, telling the story, and bearing the light.

It got me thinking about other descriptors for diaconal ministry.

The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) describes Deacons as those who:
* hold up service as an inescapable response to the Gospel
* encourage all God's people in their service of God inside and outside the church
* are advocates for justice, sharing in the church's justice ministries; standing beside people who are disadvantaged or oppressed, encouraging others to work for justice and calling the church to costly action
* are carers who offer support and encouragement, standing beside those who suffer, and encouraging others to use their caring gifts
* are pioneers serving on the fringes in areas of life where social, economic and political changes are exposing new needs which are frequently remote from the experience of church-goers
* are educators whose special task is to educate the church on justice issues and community needs
* are enablers who encourage other people to recognize and use their gifts of service
* are called to be prophets prepared to challenge injustice and offer alternatives
* are bridge builders between the church and the community

What other descriptors of diaconal ministry are there amongst member associations in DIAKONIA?

Ministry in a small congregation

Induction of Rev Naomi Rosenberg, Nairne Uniting Church
Rev Naomi Rosenberg is a Deacon in the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA). In September, Naomi was inducted as the Minister in a small congregation in a rural community on the outskirts of Adelaide, South Australia. Naomi is a former Registered Nurse, specialising in paediatrics and asthma education.  She worked on a paediatric ward for 10 years in Adelaide where she also specialised in asthma education. Naomi has had a significant ministry with seniors in aged care residences and in community programs, as well as serving in rural congregations.
In the UCA, 'Deacons are called to be, along with the scattered members of the congregation, a sign of the presence of God in the everyday world; to be especially aware of the places in the community where people are hurt, disadvantaged, oppressed or marginalised and to be in ministry with them in ways which reflect the special concern of Jesus for them; to recognise, encourage, develop and release those gifts in God's people which will enable them to share in the ministry of caring, serving, healing, restoring, making peace and advocating justice as they go about their daily lives'. (Report on Ministry in the Uniting Church 1991 Assembly). 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

International Day of Peace, 21st September

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The United Nations General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.
It is 30 years since the UN General Assembly made the Declaration on the Rights of Peoples to Peace. The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 and the first Peace Day was observed in September 1982.
In 2001, the General Assembly by unanimous vote adopted resolution 55/282PDF document, which established 21 September as an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire.
The United Nations invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.

And yet...... there are growing hostilities in many parts of the world.

Let us commit ourselves to be people of prayer, and to pray for peace in the world, and to affirm by our words and actions 'the right of peoples to peace'.

What are the stories that may be shared about peacemakers in the global diaconal community? 

God of grace and mercy,
   you look with great love on all your people
   of whatever race, culture and religion.
We ask you to bless us this day
   and send your Holy Spirit upon us
   and upon all the diverse peoples of our world:
   the Spirit of peace and justice,
   of understanding and reconciliation.
May people of violence
   allow themselves to be touched
   by the plight of those who suffer,
   and may your Spirit help broaden the horizons
   and deepen the understanding of us all.
We make this our prayer
   through Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Amen.

Nicholas Hutchinson, FSC
in Volume 1 of 'Walk In My Presence', a book of prayer services
ISBN 1-898366-60-8
(Matthew James Publishing, Chelmsford, England)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Embodying compassion

The Hebrew Scriptures reveal that compassion and mercy lie at the core of the character of God. Micah 6:8 reminds us of our calling to 'act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God'. Zechariah 7:9 reminds us that God wants us to show mercy and compassion to one another. It is a thread that weaves through the Hebrew Scriptures. And then, God is revealed in the flesh, living amongst us as a human person to show us what this means in practice. 'And God chose to reveal who God is by slipping into skin and walking among us as Jesus. And the love and grace and mercy of Jesus was so offensive to us that we killed him' (Nadia Boltz-Weber). And then, the work of compassion and mercy was handed to the disciples and followers of Jesus, where we are asked to embody compassion and mercy following his example. In the world of social media and the click of a button to support a cause, what does it look like to embody compassion and mercy?

The reflection below by Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) reflects on the way we are called to embody and reveal Christ's compassion and mercy.

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
 with compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Deacon ordinands in Methodist Church, Southern Africa

This coming Sunday, 21st September, five Deacon ordinands will be ordained. Please hold them in your prayers as they make their preparations. They will attend the final ordination retreat from Wednesday 17th September, and will appear before the Methodist Conference on Saturday 20th September to be received into full Connexion, before their ordination on Sunday.

The Deacon Ordinands are:
Richard Gwabeni
Talente Mngxali
Phina Njuze
Sheila Songelwa
Wendi Tiedt

Rev (Deac) Dr Vernon van Wyk, Warden of the Order of Deacons, writes: 'It will be wonderful if our colleagues world-wide will bless them with their prayers'. Please uphold these 5 Deacon ordinands in prayer.

The MCSA outlines the role of the Deacon in this way:
Deacons seek to be Christ's servants in the world and encourage the Church community to a ministry of servanthood. Deacons remind the Church of Christ's love for the poor and oppressed and strive to share Christ's love through service. They seek to help the Church respond to the needs of the wider community and may be engaged in work outside of the gathered worshipping community where they pioneer relevant ministry. Deacons are primarily enablers and encouragers and also help to grow church members in undertaking aspects of ministry within the local context.

Rev Dr Bill Loader offered these words in the 'charge' to a Deacon:

We have not ordained you to a life of faith and work,
for that is the life of Christ in all the baptised;
We have not ordained you to become engaged in the struggles for justice,
that light may shine in darkness,
for we are all to pray, 'Your kingdom come!'
We have not ordained you to hold the hand of the needy,
sit with the dying, weep with the bereaved,
for the Spirit everywhere urges the fruits of compassion.
You will do all these things.
We have ordained you
to lead the people of God in caring service,
to equip the people of God for their ministries,
to enable the people of God to discern the spirits of injustice and oppression.
We have ordained you to sound the trumpet of jubilee in the world.
We have ordained you as a Deacon in the Church of God.
Deacon ordinand Phina Njuze
Deacon ordinand Wendi Tiedt leading worship at Hillcrest Methodist Church

Friday, September 12, 2014

Methodist Church of Southern Africa

Vernon van Wyk is the Warden of the Methodist Order of Deacons. and oversees the training of deacons throughout the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA). The vision statement of the Deacons in the MCSA is: 'To share Christ's love through service, and to help the church respond to the needs of the wider community'. Deacons are service-oriented and build bridges between churches and communities.
Vernon is also the HIV/AIDS Coordinator for the Highveld and Swaziland District of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.  Education is high on its agenda, with 47 schools, mostly in Swaziland. AMCARE is one of its flagship programs. It was established by the Alberton Methodist Church as a community outreach program, with 8 social workers and 30 home-based care-givers. AMCARE feeds approximately 3,000 people a week.  It feeds and nurses over 350 HIV & AIDS patients, and cares for some 350 orphans and child-headed families.  The HIV Voluntary Counseling, Testing and Wellness Clinic has 2 registered nurses and 3 full-time counselors and locum doctors. Twice a week, AMCARE supplies about 400 litres of soup and 800 loaves of bread to 5 clinics and 240 children at 2 schools. Facilities also include a fully equipped training center, which accommodates up to 60 people and 3 large vegetable gardens to provide patients with fresh vegetables in food parcels. AMCARE also has a Victim Empowerment Shelter in Alberton which houses up to 20 abused women and children, and provides social work and early childhood development services. (Source: Game for the World). 

Please remember Vernon and his ministry in your prayers.

Recently, Vernon visited Deacons in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), comprising the Natal Coastal District and Natal West District, as part of his role as Warden of the Methodist Order of Deacons. Wendi Tiedt (see photo below) will be one of the Deacons ordained at the Methodist Church of Southern Africa ordination service on Sunday 21st September, 2014. She is involved in a number of mission and outreach projects including a primary school reading programme, a municipal clinic feeding scheme, AIDS Outreach, hospital library ministry, and economic empowerment, in addition to preaching and pastoral care and visitations. Please remember Wendi in your prayers, and especially as she prepares for ordination. 
Map showing the location of KwaZulu-Natal in the south-eastern part of South Africa
KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa
Back row (L to R): Harry Gerber, Ernie Nightingale (former warden), Vernon van Wyk (Warden). Front row (L to R): Jackie Foster, Wendi Tiedt (Ordinand) and Bruce Templeton (Probationer 2015);

Thursday, September 11, 2014



For the very many situations in our own lives, in our relationships, in our communities and in our global village that call us to prayer......

Pray much.
Pray always.
For without prayer, there is no faith;
Without faith, there is no love;
Without love, there is no gift of self;
Without the gift of self,
there is no help for people in distress.

(Mother Teresa)

It doesn’t have to be the blue iris, it could be weeds in a vacant lot, or a few small stones; just pay attention, then patch a few words together and don’t try to make them elaborate, this isn’t a contest but the doorway into thanks, and a silence in which another voice may speak.
(Mary Oliver, Thirst)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

#Love Makes A Way

So, why is a Minister of the church, and President of World DIAKONIA, participating in a peaceful, non-violent protest vigil in a politician's office? Speaking out for the children held in immigration centres, most of whom have fled violence and war in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Sri Lanka, and others who are escaping oppression, and persecution. Currently immigration centres are a focus of attention in Australia, with the community continuing to ask questions about immigration policies and seeking a more compassionate response to those seeking asylum. On June 23rd, 2014, a group of nine religious leaders held a peaceful protest vigil in the office of MP Jamie Briggs in Mount Barker, asking 'when will the children be released from detention'?. It was part of the #Love Makes A Way movement. At the end of the day, all 9 were arrested for trespass. Pilgrim Uniting Church ministers Rev Jana Norman and Rev Sandy Boyce were part of the group. Although the Uniting Church has a Code of Ethics that forbids ministers to be involved in illegal activity, it makes provision for those involved in non-violent and peaceful protest. The Moderator of the Uniting Church in South Australia, Dr Deidre Palmer, was supportive, and provided a character reference for Sandy and attended court on the day to support her. About 30 others came to the court to express their support for Sandy, and for the group's action on behalf of children in detention. The following statement was prepared by Sandy for her court appearance last week. 
Rev Sandy Boyce with her husband Geoff
Your Honour, thank you for the opportunity to speak today, to give an account of myself in relation to the trespass charge.

I was part of a group of 9 people who gathered for a peaceful, non-violent action focussed on a common concern for children in detention, and asking the simple question, when will the children be released from detention? The group included a Jewish rabbi, a Quaker (Society of Friends), and 7 Christians including 4 Uniting Church ministers. We prayed, we sang, we shared stories, and found ourselves in remarkable company as we discovered common journeys and commitment. We each took a soft toy, and we left them in the office at the end of the day. The soft toy has become a symbol for the children held in indefinite detention - a symbol of a child’s innocence, as well as their vulnerability and need for comfort and consolation.

The rest of the group has already had the opportunity to address the courts, and I welcome the opportunity to share my own motivation.

Your Honour, the situation for children in Australian detention centres is of great concern, especially in offshore detention centres where hundreds of children are in mandatory detention, some without their families. United Nations guidelines clearly state that children seeking asylum should not be placed in detention for anything more than what is absolutely necessary for health checks and security checks. Instead, children are being held in indefinite detention, and the emotional, psychological and physical harm being reported should be of great concern to all people of good will. Some children are responding to their living conditions in ways that are pitiful - self-harm, insomnia, trying to poison themselves, illness and poor health, banging their heads against the wall, bed wetting long after toilet training, depression, even a young girl who tried to hang herself with her hijab. How heartbreaking to read the statement from a 15 year old on Nauru: ”This is a bad life. I fled from war in Iraq but got stuck in harsh jail in Nauru where is nothing but cruelty. We want justice. This is not fair. There is no standard in Nauru. This is a hell for children.” The former head of mental health services for detainees, Peter Young, has revealed the Immigration Department asked him not to report on the rates of mental distress and disorders among children and that the department was "concerned about what the figures are showing”. In the first 3 months of this year, the department's own data shows 128 children self-harmed. It is unacceptable. Immigration detention is no life for a child. All children are precious, and we share responsibility to ensure the welfare of children, which should not be dismissed as mere sentiment.

If children displayed these kind of behavioural responses arising from their living conditions in the wider community, it would be spoken of as neglect and child abuse. Yet this deplorable situation is allowed to continue in detention centres. Only last Friday, the Immigration Minister said that children in off shore detention centres would not be eligible for release because it was those conditions that were stopping ‘more children coming on the boats’. However one justifies children in indefinite detention, it is unacceptable. It goes without saying that the longer the children are held in detention, the more significant their mental suffering. Psychiatrist Peter Young has said, ”If we take the definition of torture to be the deliberate harming of people in order to coerce them into a desired outcome, I think it does fulfil that definition.” We desperately need an alternative to provide better care for these vulnerable children, and Australia has the capacity to positively support their well-being.

The peaceful, non-violent action in which I participated simply asked the question, when will these children be released from detention? Our group sought to highlight their plight and their vulnerability, and to urge that they be released into community care while their applications for asylum are processed. Indeed, a coalition of church agencies and not for profit organisations has offered to work with the Government to arrange community accommodation and appropriate support for families and young children while their applications are processed, but that offer has not been acted upon.

Christians are called to follow the example of Jesus and my Christian faith seeks expression in the way I demonstrate compassion and care, build peace and seek justice, and contribute to the common welfare. Faith is personal, but never private. In my work as a Minister in the Uniting Church, I seek to link the biblical narrative with the practice of faith. I am glad to be part of Pilgrim Uniting Church which from its beginning has been involved in seeking justice and working for the community good. This congregation has for many years actively supported refugees and asylum seekers, with regular visitors to detention centres, sponsoring family reunions, providing practical support and care, and building ongoing relationships. I am proud to say that the Uniting Church nationally has been involved in speaking out for the welfare of asylum seekers, and for children in detention, and challenging government policies that are cruel and harsh towards vulnerable people.

My action to bring attention to the plight of children in detention, was, in part, motivated by frustration with the degree of secrecy maintained in relation to those in detention, and the apparent unwillingness of government to work with the community on alternatives to children in detention and the punitive policies in place. A peaceful action - to highlight the dire situation of children in detention - seems a reasonable thing to do. Not to speak, and not to act, is to collude with what I believe is fundamentally a cruel policy in relation to children and their families in immigration detention.

Such an action was not out of the blue. I am not an accidental activist, but rather someone who has carefully considered ways to raise awareness about this important issue that affects the very character and soul of our nation. Who are we becoming as a nation if we simply turn a blind eye to the welfare of children in detention centres? How can this be allowed to continue? Not in my name.

I worked as a teacher in schools for 20 years, mainly with primary school aged children. We all know that these are critically formative years, when a child’s sense of worth and well-being is shaped, and when they are making sense of the world. For a child, these early years are the foundation which will inform their adult life, and when core values and attitudes are shaped. How can we expect children to develop into generous, kind, compassionate, and confident adults when they are struggling to survive in the midst of difficult living conditions? How can we expect children to be strong, joyful, robust, and resilient, when freedom has been denied, when they face indefinite detention through no fault of their own. How can we expect children to make sense of the world and grow into maturity when their education is spasmodic, when they are denied a stable home environment with emotional security, and when their sense of confidence for the future is compromised.

The actions undertaken by those who decided to sit in Jamie Briggs’ office was prompted by the one question, when will the children be released from detention? It is a reasonable question - with precedent. The Human Rights Commission report released in 2004 found mandatory immigration detention of children was inconsistent with Australia's international human rights obligations and that detention for long periods created a high risk of serious mental harm. Subsequently, the then Prime Minister John Howard released all children and their families from detention.

I am grateful to the staff in MP Jamie Briggs’ office who allowed the group to sit together in the office foyer. They were respectful and did not at any time ask us to leave, until the office was due to be closed at which point we were asked if we planned to leave. When the police were called, they were also respectful in the way they related to the group, and did their job professionally. None of the group I was with had been in such a situation before, so it was a new experience to find myself in handcuffs, being driven to the police station in a police car, and going through a somewhat alien process of fingerprinting, DNA swabs, photos, frisking, questions, and so on. It seemed to me that I had a tiny glimpse into the world of asylum seekers who undergo a screening process determined by Australian authorities. With language difficulties and limited access to legal representation, it is much harder for asylum seekers and the policy of indefinite detention is breaking people’s spirits. The children in detention long for freedom, to be children who can enjoy life with unbridled joy.

I welcome the announcement this month that 150 children under 10 in detention in mainland detention centres will be released into the community over the next 5 months - but the 331 children living in camps on Nauru and Christmas Island, and more than 400 aged over 10 on the mainland, will remain in detention. It is my hope that change can and must happen, that decisions can be made based on compassion and justice.

It is not illegal for people to seek asylum, regardless of how they arrive. 

Your Honour, thank you for the opportunity to share my story.

The magistrate, Special Justice Steven O’Sullivan, waived court fees and did not record a conviction, but did impose a small fine of $50. 

And to put the record straight, the group knew there was a risk of arrest, but that's not the same as 'wanting to be arrested' as was stated in the article based on the police prosecution allegation.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fijian peacekeepers captured/released

Update: Great news that the group of 45 Fijian peacekeepers have been released, two weeks after they were captured by Al Qaeda linked militants in the Golan Heights. All the peacekeepers are in a good condition.
Prime Minister Mr Bainimarama said his country would continue to be involved in the UN's peacekeeping efforts. "It is a noble mission, which we will continue to perform whenever we are called on by the United Nations to serve. For the families, as for all Fijians, it is a matter of great pride that our peacekeepers are able to make such a significant contribution to the wellbeing of others who are less fortunate than us – who are vulnerable living in places that have been torn apart by division and violence."Fiji currently has 734 personnel on UN peacekeeping missions, of which the majority are troops. Since independence from Britain in 1970, Fiji has sent more soldiers on UN peacekeeping missions than any other nation, on a per capita basis. The deployment provides Fiji's economy with much-needed hard currency and helps to bolster its global image.
Golan Heights observers
UN observers watch the Syrian side of Golan Heights, 31 August 2014. Photograph: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

The news about the capture of the UN peacekeepers from Fiji
It is distressing to hear the news that 45 UN peacekeepers from Fiji have been captured by Al-Qaida linked insurgents. In a statement posted online, the Nusra Front group published a photo showing what it said were the captured Fijians in their military uniforms along with 45 identification cards. The group said the men "are in a safe place and in good health, and everything they need in terms of food and medicine is given to them."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has spoken with the Prime Minister of Fiji and promised that the United Nations was "doing its utmost to obtain the unconditional and immediate release" of the Fijian peacekeepers. 
Meanwhile, the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma, and the Fijian Council of Churches, has held a prayer vigil for those who have been captured. Please join our brothers and sisters in Christ in Fiji in their prayers for the safe release of the 45 held captive.

Deaconess Meresiana was amongst those who gathered for the prayer vigil.
45 candles for the peacekeepers taken captive

Monday, September 1, 2014

Eco-faith community

The Season of Creation is celebrated in many countries, and challenges us to re-orient our relationship with creation. While the challenge may have been provoked by the current ecological crisis and a growing awareness of our place in the web of creation, the origins of our re-orientation lie deep in our Christian tradition, especially our biblical heritage.  We are challenged to return to our biblical roots to rediscover our intimate connections with creation. We return to see ourselves again as part of the very Earth from which we are made.

Very topical with discussions about climate change, environmental issues, fracking, and 'green' solutions to generating power.

Rev Dr Jason John is a Deacon in the Uniting Church in Australia. Eco-ministry is 0.6 of his placement and he is also a minister at Sawtell Uniting Church. The photo shows a combined outdoor service at Gleniffer. Jason's sermon on the day can be found here: - look under worship>season of creation>forests.
I wonder how many other Deacons/Deaconesses around the world are involved in eco-ministry of some form or other?

Jason did his PhD exploring biocentric thought. The abstract begins:
"Anthropocentrism assumes that human beings alone are created in the image of God, charged with dominion over Earth, and responsible for the fallenness of creation, though not necessarily through the actions of a literal Adam and Eve. Earth began to be talked about not as an inanimate resource for human consumption, but something good and valuable in and of itself. Having listened carefully to the story of life as told by ecological and evolutionary scientists, I conclude that the traditional anthropocentric paradigm is no longer tenable.  Instead I propose that all of life is the image of God, in its evolutionary past, ecological present and unknown future.  All of life is in direct relationship with God, and exercises dominion of Earth.  Evidence traditionally used as evidence of the fallenness of creation is instead affirmed as an essential part of life'. Jason's thesis is online at the link above.

by Rev Ellie Stock from St. Louis, Missouri
Let the Earth breathe!
Let its heart beat,
    pulsing and firing the fruit of its seed.
Let four winds tease,
    air bright and clean.
    converging and swirling through life’s mystery.

Let waters wreathe.
Let rivers be,
    pristine and free from deep valleys to seas.
Let singing streams
    stir slumbering leagues,
    awakening the dreamer and changing the dream.

    Let mountains rise!
    Let forests thrive—
        primal communities birthed to survive.
    Let kindred be wise,
        not compromise
        their courage and care for greed’s beckoning lies.

Let oceans race!
Let new waves chase
    ancient tides washing ashore cosmic grace.
Let rhythms of peace,
    still conflict’s pace,
    emerging, connecting in trust’s healing place,
bold creatures revealing hope’s eternal face,
beloving, one dwelling, in Earth’s sacred space.