Thursday, June 30, 2016

DIAKONIA Executive

The DIAKONIA Executive will be meeting at the Reuilly Deaconess Community in Versailles from Saturday July 2nd to Thursday July 7th. Please pray for the Executive as they meet, and as they plan for Assembly 2017 in Chicago.
Rev Dr Alison McRae is not able to be at the Executive as she is having knee surgery. Deaconess Emma Cantor, who was unable to attend the meeting in Chicago in 2015, will represent DAP at the upcoming meeting.
Lisa Polito will be providing regular updates from our meeting on the DIAKONIA Facebook page.

DIAKONIA Executive, 2013-2017

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Congratulations to Deaconess Jody Winter

Congratulations to Deaconess Jody Winter on the occasion of her consecration in June 2016. Blessings to you and your ministry. (There may be some familiar faces in this photo - DOTAC Regional President Lisa Polito, and Louise Williams, past president of DIAKONIA World Federation) and Diane Marten (local logistics coordinator for the 2017 Assembly in Chicago). 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Celebrating diaconal ministries

From Pamela Nesbit: A celebration was held to honour the 29 deacons from The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada whose ministry was recognized at the AED Triennial assembly. The stories offer a wonderful mosaic of the ministry of deacons. You can  check out the ministries via this link.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Church of Scotland Diaconate

The Church of Scotland Diaconate Council was held June 20-22, 2016. Pat Munro steps down from the role of President. Thanks for your leadership. And blessings to Marion Stewart as she now takes on the role of President.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Congratulations to Pamela Nesbit

Congratulations to the Archdeacon of Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, The Venerable Pamela M. Nesbit. She was one of 29 deacons in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada recognized for excellence in ministry at the Triennial Diaconal Assembly of the Association for Episcopal Deacons. Bishop Clifton Daniel recommended Deacon Pam for this recognition for the work she has done in reviving the diaconate in the Diocese of Pennsylvania and for the formation and support of the new growing community of deacons. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Celebrations in Berlin

The 100th Jubilee celebration of Kaiserswerther Verband deutscher Diakonisssen-Mutterhauser e.V., and the 175th Jubilee celebration of Evangelisches Diakonissenhaus Berlin Teltow Lehnin, were celebrated in Berlin, 17-19th June.
Celebrations were held at the Evangelisches Diakonissenhaus Berlin Teltow Lehnin, at villa Elisabeth, and a closing service at Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedachtnis-Kirche.
It was wonderful to be in Berlin at a time when these celebrations were being held and to catch up with friends, including Sr Ulrike Kellner, and Sr Traude Leitenberger.

Rev (Deacon) Sandy Boyce and Sr Traude Leitenberger, Villa Elisabeth, Berlin

Episcopal Deacons in North Carolina - 2016 retreat

Some of the Episcopal Deacons in North Carolina gathered for a retreat. Here's a group photo.
Episcopal Deacons, North Carolina retreat, June 2016

new hymn for Deacons

Rev William Weisser was asked by the North Carolina Conference deacons to write a hymn for the conference’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of the order of deacon in the United Methodist Church. 'O God of all Creation' is the result. It may be a welcome addition to other denominations looking for a hymn relevant to Deacons. (Note: PDF version of music can be downloaded here). 

Saturday, June 18, 2016


At home in Australia, my colleague Rev Jana Norman is organising a prayer vigil, remembering victims of the horrific attack on people in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Jana lived and worked in the city for several years.

I have been reading responses from various religious leaders around the world including the Episcopal Bishop in Florida and other leaders in the Episcopal Church (and many more!).

I applaud the comments made by the President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Stuart McMillan, including the challenges he recognises for the global church. He writes:

The Uniting Church in Australia expresses its deep sorrow at the deaths of 49 people in a despicable act of violence at a gay nightclub in the city of Orlando in the US state of Florida over the weekend.
No words of comfort we say are enough to console the families and loved ones, or to heal the damage done by this hateful act of homophobia.
Murder for whatever reason - religious, racial, or on grounds of sexuality or gender - is an outrage against humanity and God’s creation.
The horrific attack in Orlando has raised strong and legitimate feelings among the LGBTIQ community and others about the failure of the world’s religious to love all human beings equally regardless of sexuality.
As Christians we need to reflect seriously on the fact that even our prayers for the dead are being heard as hypocrisy in some ears.
For our own part, Uniting Church members must reflect on our commitment to accept LGBTIQ people as full members of our church; confess and repent our own failures to accept people equally; and recommit ourselves to rejecting homophobia in all its forms.
Amid our own prayerful reflection, today we give thanks to God for all those who work to eradicate homophobia and all forms of hate in our world.
Stuart McMillan, President, Uniting Church in Australia
I have collected a number of resources for congregations to use and uploaded them to my worship resources website here. I appreciate the work of Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, and the way she has crafted words so quickly in response to the Orlando tragedy. I commend it to you for your own prayerful reflection. Although it's specifically U.S. in context, it resonates globally. 

To a Place of Celebration
EBENEZER D (“Why Do Nations Rage Together”)
To a place of celebration filled with laughter, dancing, joy,
Came such violent devastation— one man’s efforts to destroy.
God, we grieve for loved ones taken; we lament, “What can we do?”
Now, we’re feeling lost and shaken; heal our nation! Make us new!
Weapons kill— and so does silence; hear our prayer as we confess:
We have given in to violence, we have bowed to hopelessness.
God, we’ve lost our sense of vision of a world where there will be
Plowshares made from violent weapons, justice in society.

Give our leaders strength for action, give them minds to mend our flaws,
Give them courage and compassion and the will to change our laws.
May we work for legislation that will curb guns’ awful toll.
God, renew our dedication to a world that’s just and whole.

Give us love to change our vision; give us love to cast out fear.
Give us love to welcome difference— love no hatred can destroy.
Only love can stop the violence; only love will bring back joy.
Give us love to speak with wisdom— love to work for justice here.

Tune: Thomas John Williams, 1890. Alternative Tune: BEACH SPRING
Text: Copyright © 2016 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: New Hymns:

Although access to guns is only part of the problem with what has happened in Orlando, I'm heartened to hear about this Mexican artist who has melted 1,527 guns, to make shovels to plant trees. The prophetic role of the artist! “If something is dying, becoming rotten and smelly, I think there is a chance to make a compost in which this vast catalog of solutions can be mixed in an entirely new way.” He was aiming to show “how an agent of death can become an agent of life.” These new shovels have then distributed to art institutions and public schools, where people in the community are now using them to plant a minimum of 1,527 trees. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Meeting with MDO in London, June 2016

It was a delight to meet in London with Deacon Karen McBride (currently Deputy Warden MDO and incoming Warden MDO in September) and Deacon Richard Clutterbuck (incoming Deputy Warden MDO in September). The MDO office is in central London, part of Methodist House.

Karen gave me a copy of a well-researched history of diaconal ministry in the Methodist Church - I'll enjoy dipping into it. Karen also gave a copy of the recent publication prepared to help congregations better understand diaconal ministry - it's a really helpful resource.

Deacon Karen McBride, Rev (Deacon) Sandy Boyce, Deacon Richard Clutterbuck
The MDO is a religious Order and an order of ministry with the Methodist Church. The Methodist Church has two orders of ministry: presbyteral and diaconal. The two orders are equal in status yet with certain difference in focus, style and character.

In the Methodist Church, deacons are ordained:
* to assist God's people in prayer and worship;
* to hold before them the needs and concerns of the world;
* to minister Christ's love and compassion;
* to visit and support the sick and the suffering;
* to seek out the lost and the lonely;
* to help those served to offer their lives to God.

A deacon's main focus is to take care of the community's needs and to help God's people make the most of their faith in every day life, through:  

Taking as their model the way that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, deacons help people to understand the nature of God's love and healing through acts of loving kindness. They encourage people to realise that by serving others in God's name, they also encounter and are served by God.
Free from responsibility for pastoral charge of churches, deacons are able to work at grassroots, alongside people within and beyond the Church community and to offer a prophetic voice from the margins.

Deacons seek to connect faith with life in today's world in such a way that people are encouraged to articulate their experience and deal with the practical problems they encounter. They draw attention to and help interpret God's activity in the world and daily life.

AED Triennial Assembly

The Association for Episcopal Deacons Triennial Assembly begins in Minnesota today, June 16-19th, 2016. The theme is, 'Diakonia: Engaging God's Mission'. May it be a great time of fellowship! 
If you click on the link above, you can see the program highlights.

opening night
AED group photo

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Methodist Deacons in New Zealand

New Zealand is a small country “at the bottom of the world”. Over the past 30 years, the Methodist Church in New Zealand has ordained 33 deacons – 7 men and 26 women. At the present time, there are 6 active deacons, with many in retirement who continue to be involved in ministry. There is a strong sense of the heritage of the Deaconess Order.

Deacon Edna Evans writes: 

Up until 4 years ago most Deacons were self-supporting and covenanted to their Home Parish.  More recently there has been some development in appointing a Deacon to another parish through itinerancy.  The development of different ministry roles has increased connections between church and community, and continues to raise the profile of  the church in some community groups.   We are proud that a  few deacons have received  New Year's Honours or Queen's Birthday Honours  for services to their communities. 

The New Zealand church has many Pacific Island members integrated into its life and slowly some  are acknowledging a call to ministry as deacons. We are excited that the work of deacons is continuing with the ordination of 3 new deacons in the last 3 years.  The support of Trinity Theological College  is appreciated,  encouraging people to consider the Diaconate as a ministry option, with specific papers offered  where appropriate.  The Mission Resourcing Unit is responsible for support and ensuring Ministry Covenants are current.   While working in the community, the deacon is also an integral part of their local church, and district  synod, often taking on leadership and committee responsiblities.

The Diaconate Task Group is our national body which supports deacons, oversees tasks that need doing, as well as regularly reporting to the annual Methodist Conference and ensuring that the church  understands this vital ministry.   It also organises our bi-annual national Convocation – with 10 people recently attending in April.

To conclude, here are some words from NZ poet Joy Cowley  from Aotearoa Psalms - 

'The Bridge”:

There are times in life when we are called to be bridges,
not a great monument spanning a distance and carrying loads of heavy traffic,
but a simple bridge to help one person from here to there over some difficulty
such as pain, grief, fea, loneliness,
a bridge which opens the way for ongoing journey.

When I become a bridge for another, I bring upon myself a blessing,
for I escape from the small prison of self and exist for a wider world,
breaking out to be a larger being who can enter another's pain
and rejoice in another's triumph.

I know of only one greater blessing in this life, and that is,
to allow someone else to be a bridge for me.