Tuesday, November 15, 2016

DOTAC Central Committee meets

DOTAC is one of the three regions of World DIAKONIA - DIAKONIA of the Americas and Caribbean, with member organisations in North and South America and the Caribbean. The Regional President is Deaconess Lisa Polito. The DOTAC Central Committee is meeting for the new few days at Dumas Bay Centre (a former convent, now a retreat centre) outside of Seattle, Washington, USA. 

Please remember the DOTAC Central Committee and their work, and especially as they discuss the DIAKONIA World Assembly in 2016. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Graduation of diaconal students in Haiti

Pamela Nesbit, Anglican Archdeacon of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania is this week attending a graduation ceremony of 21 diaconal students in the Diocese of Haiti, who are graduating from their studies at the Episcopal Seminary. 
The Episcopal Diocese of Haiti*, established in 1861, is the largest diocese in the Episcopal Church with over 83,700 members and over 100 congregations.
Pamela has been asked to be their "Godmother". Pamela is travelling with Deacon Holly Hartman and Gibi Garner (a parishioner from the Cathedral where Pamela is in ministry) is originally from Haiti. 
Pamela plans to speak to the graduates in their own language (Haitian Creole), with the help of Gibi, to tell the graduates how proud everyone is of them and that they and their nation are being held in prayer on Tuesday, November 8th, when the graduation will take place at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 
Holy Trinity Cathedral has been destroyed six times, including major damage in the devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010 that killed more than 300,000 people, seriously injured more than 250,000 and left 1.3 million people homeless. Untold numbers of private and public buildings were also destroyed throughout the country including Holy Trinity Cathedral, as well as other buildings on its campus. 
The interior murals of the church were famous as they depicted various stories form the Bible using only people of black African heritage. All the images had a local perspective, with Jesus carrying a Haitian flag as he ascended to heaven, and a last supper that unlike some famous depictions does not portray Judas with darker skin that the other disciples. Of the 14 renowned murals that adorned the interior of the Cathedral only 3 smaller murals survived the destruction - The Last Supper, Native Procession and The Baptism of Christ, and each work bears the wounds of the vicious tremor that killed 300,000 people. The paintings' winding cracks, running through legs, through torsos, and through the neck of a dark-skinned woman in the baptism scene who seems to be screaming, are violent and painful. 
Members of the Cathedral have been continuing to worship in a semi-temporary structure, and rebuilding is taking place. 
The plans to rebuild the Cathedral were announced in 2013, with the site being cleared for redevelopment in 2015. Like ancient cathedrals around the world, Holy Trinity is a powerful focal point for faith and spirituality, as well as for light, art, and education. It also serves as a sacramental sign of God's promise that devastation and destruction are not the end. 
Pamela notes, 'I figure being in Haiti with all its many challenges will give me some perspective on the challenges that we in the U.S. are facing (on election day 2016)'. 

A brief history of the establishment of the Diocese of Haiti
The King of northern Haiti from 1807 to 1820, Henri Christophe, vowed to make the Anglican Church the official state religion. This was part of his efforts to eliminate vestiges of French colonialism, and his adoption of English education methods and English language as the medium in the court system. However, the king committed suicide in 1820, and with the reunification of Haiti the plans to introduce Anglicanism faded. 
In 1855, a young Deacon in the Episcopal Church of the United States named James Theodore Holly made a trip to study the possibility of migration of black Americans in Haiti following a civil war started in the United States. It was his first trip to Haiti. He returned in 1861, with 110 emigrants to install a mission of the Episcopal Church of which he was to be their leader. During this visit,  a terrible epidemic of malaria and typhoid swept through the area, and 43 of the emigrants died. The rest returned to the United States apart from Holly and 20 others who remained in Haiti to continue the mission of establishing the Church. In 1863 the first service was held, and on May 25th, the Day of Pentecost, the parish of the 'Holy Trinity' was established, the first step towards recognition by the Episcopal Church of the United States. 
In 1949, the Church invited Haitian artists to paint murals on the interior walls. Recognised as masterpieces for their artistic and cultural merit, these murals depict various stories from the Bible using people of African heritage as the characters. In all, 14 of these huge paintings were completed. 
At the centenary anniversary of the Episcopal Church of Haiti in May 1961, it was noted that there had been 34,000 baptisms, and that there were 76 missions, 94 stations, 24 priests and 136 lay people, with 64 schools added to the provinces and rural areas, and 3 to the capital (Port-au-Prince), a theological seminary and 3 medical clinics.    
This year, 2016, celebrates 155 years of the establishment of the Diocese of Haiti. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

International Day of the Girl Child, October 11th: Girls Thrive = Society Benefits

I wonder in what ways the diaconal associations recognised the International Day of the Girl Child? And what programs and priorities there are amongst our diaconal associations that address the challenges girls face, and to promote girls' empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights. 
Below are two articles I found helpful reflecting on the International Day of the Girl Child, one from the UN and one from Australian Mike Frost on his blog. It is followed by a prayer for the girl child and women, prepared by Rev Thomas Jacob. 
(from the UN):
The International Day of the Girl Child recognises girls' rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.
Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women. If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders. An investment in realising the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.
Over the last 15 years, the global community has made significant progress in improving the lives of girls during early childhood. In 2015, girls in the first decade of life are more likely to enrol in primary school, receive key vaccinations, and are less likely to suffer from health and nutrition problems than were previous generations. However, there has been insufficient investment in addressing the challenges girls face when they enter the second decade of their lives. This includes obtaining quality secondary and higher education, avoiding child marriage, receiving information and services related to puberty and reproductive health, and protecting themselves against unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease and gender-based violence.
The theme for this year's International Day of the Girl (11 October) is Girls' Progress = Goals' Progress: What Counts for Girls. While we can applaud the ambition and potential of the Sustainable Development Goals for girls, and recognize how girls’ progress is good not only for girls, but also for families, communities and society at large, we must also take this opportunity to consider how existing gaps in data on girls and young women, lack of systematic analysis, and limited use of existing data significantly limit our ability to monitor and communicate the wellbeing and progress of half of humanity. 
When we invest in girls’ health, safety, education and rights - in times of peace and crisis - we empower them to reach for their dreams and build better lives for themselves and their communities. Only when investments in programs for girls on issues that particularly affect them - due to both their age and gender - are complemented with corresponding investments in data on girls, can we make real progress towards greater accountability in domains of critical importance to them. 

From Mike Frost, an Australian pastor and theologian reflects on the girl child in his daily blog
Exiled Iranian politician, Mahnaz Afkhami once declared, “When women thrive, all of society benefits, and succeeding generations are given a better start in life. The connection between women’s human rights, gender equality, socioeconomic development and peace is increasingly apparent.”
In other words, if you want a more peaceful society, let girls and women flourish.
No seriously, if there’s a silver bullet or a shortcut to world peace it’s this: remove the barriers that inhibit opportunities for girls to become successful women.
And this week I discovered if you want the best opportunities for your daughter, you’d better move to Sweden or Norway or Denmark or Finland. To coincide with International Day of the Girl, Save the Children released their ranking of the best and worst countries in which to be a girl, and those four countries topped the list. Scandinavia is definitely known for peace.
Embarrassingly, some other wealthy developed countries like Australia (21), South Korea (27), USA (32), and Japan (35) ranked down the list.
In fact, it’s better to be a girl in Kazakhstan than America, or in Serbia than Australia (ouch!!).
So how does that work?
Well, Save the Children identified five key predictors of the ability for girls to thrive:
  1. Rates of early marriage (child marriage triggers a cycle of disadvantage across every part of a girl’s life);
  2. Adolescent fertility (teen pregnancy impedes a girl’s ability to thrive);
  3. Maternal mortality (complications during pregnancy or childbirth is the second leading cause of death for adolescent girls);
  4. Women in government (indicating a girl’s freedom to speak out and influence decisions);
  5. Lower secondary school completion (a limited education also limits employment options). 
Obviously, countries where girls may face sexual and gender-based violence or harassment crashed to the bottom of the list, as did countries in war zones. The bottom 25 places went to African countries. And Afghanistan.
But while rich countries might be doing okay with their lack of conflict and child marriage, many of them slipped down the ranking because their low proportion of women politicians and their relatively high rates of teen pregnancy. Australia, UK and Canada were all dragged down the ranking by these factors.
The USA, the world’s biggest economy, ranks down at position 32 because it also has high teen pregnancy rates and low women’s representation in government. Women hold 19.4% of the 535 seats in Congress, while the Swedish parliament comprises 44% women.
But America was also let down by relatively high maternal mortality rates. Fourteen women died per 100,000 live births in the USA in 2015; a similar number to Uruguay and Lebanon, and far higher than the three deaths per 100,000 in Poland, Greece and Finland.
Long story short: not enough women in politics; too many teen pregnancies; too many women dying due to complications in pregnancy or childbirth; too many girls dropping out of high school.
Wealthy countries are sometimes oblivious to the degree to which girls are women are held back in their societies, presuming that economic wealth is the only indicator of freedom. But if we want to address brokenness and violence in society, if we want to reduce injustice and poverty, make it a better world for women and girls. Provide greater opportunities for political representation. Provide better sexual, reproductive and maternal healthcare. Provide better educational opportunities.
Oh, and if we want to bring peace and democracy to other parts of the world, instead of invading or bombing them, maybe we should just help make it a better world for the girls there.
If we did that we could change the world.

This prayer was prepared by Rev Thomas Jacob (India). It has a particular focus on the girl child in India  but could easily be used or adapted to pray for girls and women in other places. 

Leader: Gracious Lord, we thank you for creating us, both male and female, in your image, out of your love, and in your divine plan and purpose. We are grateful that Christ died on the cross to redeem all humankind. Yet, we confess that we have not always seen ourselves and each other as created in your image. We have treated one another as less than what you have created us to be. Transform us with the power and hope of your resurrection.
Lord, in your mercy All: Hear our prayer.
Leader: Lord Jesus, during your ministry on earth, you showed how precious little children are to you. We have failed to show the same love to them, particularly towards the girl child. We have discriminated against the girl child from the womb till the tomb. We have destroyed life, often even before she could come into this world. Forgive us.
Lord, in your mercy All: Hear our prayer.
Leader: Lord Jesus, we learn from the Gospels that you loved, healed and restored women in a society where she was discriminated against both in social and religious life. Yet, even today, we face the same challenge of exclusion of women, and discrimination and violence against the girl child at all stages of her life. We confess our guilt.
Lord, in your mercy All: Hear our prayer.
Leader: We pray for the Church that she would bring the message of love and hope to every girl child who feels unloved, unwanted and rejected. May we be facilitators in helping her to grow to her God-given potentials in her service to humanity.
Lord, in your mercy All: Hear our prayer.
Leader: We confess that we have not acknowledged the gifts and abilities of the girl child and women, and have not provided them opportunities to exercise those gifts for the good of the Church. Help us to nurture the girl child and equip her to contribute through any role in the Church that the Spirit might call her to, including that of leadership.
Lord, in your mercy All: Hear our prayer.
Leader: We bring before you every daughter, sister, wife and mother that you may shower your blessings upon them and on all that they do in different roles. Help them and us to uphold the dignity that you have given them.
Lord, in your mercy. All: Hear our prayer.
Leader: We pray for all those who oppress and exploit the girl child or woman that they would realize the harm that is caused to another person created in the image of God. Help them to see that what they do to the girl child is an offence against you. Change their hearts and minds by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Lord, in your mercy. All: Hear our prayer.
Leader: We pray for all victims of gender discrimination and violence. We know that you are moved by their silent tears and sighs. Comfort them with your love and stretch forth your hand to heal them.
Lord, in your mercy. All: Hear our prayer.
Leader: We pray for all those in authority – in organisations, Church and society – that they would be sensitive to the issues affecting the girl child and women, and would take measures to protect and to provide equal opportunities for their growth and development.
Lord, in your mercy. All: Hear our prayer.
Leader: God of love and life, fill us with your love and compassion. Help us to see every person as you would see her. Teach us to see you in every girl child. Let every girl child know that she is precious, loved and wanted.
Lord, in your mercy. All: Hear our prayer.
Leader: We offer these prayers in the name of Christ who is the hope and authority of the future. Amen.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Methodist Deacons in New Zealand

It was a pleasure to spend time with the Deacons in New Zealand, at the NZ Methodist Conference on the first weekend of October. It was great to learn more about their work and their relationship with Presbyters.

It was also great to be at the Conference when Shirley-Joy's Barrow's retirement was acknowledged.

Typhoons and hurricanes

Typhoon Chaba has unleashed heavy rain and damaging winds on southern South Korea and southwestern mainland Japan. At least five deaths have been reported in South Korea while another person remains missing. Floodwaters have raced through the streets of Busan, and structural damage was also reported. Power outages were also report, as well as travel chaos and dozens of flight cancellations. Many schools were forced to close. 
Thankfully, across mainland Japan, impacts have been less extreme. 
Meanwhile in the USA, there are mass evacuations as Hurricane Matthew begins to descend upon the East Coast, having already passed through areas in the Caribbean.

And in Haiti the damage has been extreme, with many hundreds reported to have died.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by these devastating storms, and with our diaconal sisters and brothers in the Caribbean, United States, South Korea and Japan.

people in Haiti, after a bridge had collapsed

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Becky Louter

March 16, 1970 - September 16, 2016
It is with deep sadness that the diaconal community has learned of the passing of Becky Louter on September 16th, 2016, after a courageous battle with breast cancer for several years.

Like her mother, Becky was a Deaconess in the United Methodist Church. Consecrated as a Deaconess in 2001, she served as Executive Secretary of the Deaconess Home Missioner Order of the United Methodist Church, which oversees the lay order of the church dedicated to workers in vocations that alleviate suffering.

The United Methodist Women's website reports, 'Ms Louter was a tireless advocate for the lay office, and the community grew. During her tenure, laymen were added as home missioners by the 2004 General Conference, and the 2016 General Conference recognised the deaconess/home missioner community as a lay order of the church'.

Harriet Jane Olson, chief executive officer of the United Methodist Women says, 'I am profoundly grateful for Becky's life, for her commitment to following Jesus and for her leadership. She was a model of committed lay leadership focussed on love, justice and service'.

Becky's mission was to help share God's love through service and social justice. In a 2006 interview she said, 'I had always felt a sense of calling. I thought I was looking for a job but I discovered I was called to be in ministry. As a deaconess, I may have 30 jobs in my life, but one calling, one relationship...God does the calling'.

Becky is survived by her husband, Michael, and their four precious children, John, Andrew, Hanna and Elizabeth. Our thoughts and prayers are with Becky's family.

Becky's gentle and deeply rooted faith and confidence in Jesus, her strength, courage and love, and her tireless advocacy for diaconal ministry will continue to inspire those who knew and loved her, and those whose lives were touched by her presence.While there is deep sorrow at Becky's passing, we can all affirm together: well done, good and faithful servant.

And we can have confidence Becky is indeed held in the embrace of God, as she has given testimony to all her life.

(A GoFundMe appeal has been set up for Becky's family and you may consider making a donation). 

Monday, September 19, 2016

DOVE: Diakonia Overcoming Violence Experience

Please remember the delegates as they meet for the 2016 gathering of DOVE: Diakonia Overcoming Violence Experience, September 19-23, 2016 at Crieff Hills Conference Center, Punslinch (near Toronto), Ontario, Canada. 

This gathering builds an international team that will participate in a multicultural, hands-on, action-reflection experience related to overcoming violence in the world 

Participants promise to:
  • find ways to initiate action/reflection experiences in their own countries
  • write reflections to share with the group, their own community, and DOTAC (Diakonia
    of the Americas and Caribbean)
  • seek ways to provide leadership and develop networks to assist others in overcoming violence.

    Learning about... 
  • Overcoming Violence through Empowerment & Being a Strong Ally
  • Restorative Justice Approaches
  • Toxic & Healthy Masculinities
  • Advocating For & Empowering Sex Trade Workers
  • Residential Schools and Relationships with First Nations People

    DOTAC attempts to select three people from each region (Brazil, Caribbean, United States, and Canada) to attend. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

A reflection on 9/11 (15th anniversary)

The sculpture consists of an iron beam pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center held up by two stainless steel hands. The hands holding it up are constructed from 2,976 individually crafted stainless steel doves – each representing a victim of the attacks.

Fifteen years after 9/11
what is worth remembering?

How fragile we are.
How deeply we need each other.
How little our differences matter.
That in our vulnerability
we are most human.
That we can always respond to violence
with violence or with peace.
That violence begets violence.
That in danger, chaos and trauma
we can choose to come together.
That you always have a choice
to contribute to the world's hurt
or its healing.
That we are one.
That entering into the world's suffering
is divine.
That the world is not ending yet.
How beautiful it is
when we care for each other.
Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Remembering Warruwi

On Wednesday 27 July, 2016, over 60 people from across the country arrived in the Warruwi (South Goulburn Island in Northern Australia) community to mark the centenary of mission activities that commenced in the region in 1916. It was a significant day for many people who worked in Warruwi and Arnhem Land mission communities over many years.
Warruwi is a small island north east of Darwin and across the Coburg Peninsula, and is home to a mostly Indigenous community of approximately 500 people (more information here). The traditional language of the local community is Mawng, with a number of other languages also being spoken. Several Mawng community representatives took part in the centenary event, along with other Warruwi locals, and ex-mission workers from locations across Australia.
Amongst those who gathered were a number of ex-mission workers from South Australia and members of their families – including Rev Deacon Bill Harris, his wife Margaret, and daughters, Michelle and Anne). Other South Australians passed along their greetings, while still more were discussed as making significant contributions to mission work.
The Warruwi site was chosen by Rev James Watson in 1915. He had been sent to the Northern Territory by the Methodist Church’s Board of Missions to survey possible sites for mission work in the area. As a result of his survey and report South Goulburn Island/Warruwi was selected as the most suitable site to commence mission activities. James arrived to establish the mission on 22 June 1916.
Those gathered for the event recalled many aspects of the Warruwi mission’s history. Attendees also took part in a re-enactment of Rev James Watson’s 1916 arrival by boat. 

The group then gathered at the site of the original church, where a replica now stands (pictured) and serves as the base for the current Warruwi Uniting Church congregation. The old church building is no longer suitable for many of the community’s worship services. A large external stage has been built facing into the town square and this is used for larger worship gatherings.
As part of the celebrations, visitors were welcomed by local pastor Billy Nowaloinba, who later preached at the centenary service. Music was provided by the church band, and dancers performed a smoking ceremony and welcome dances. 
The event also provided a platform for Rev Dr William Emilson to launch his new book, Fighting Spirit: A History of Christianity at Warruwi, Goulburn Island, and for the handing over of the Mawng translation of the Gospel of Mark. The latter work was started in the 1960s and finally completed in time for the centenary celebrations.
The Warruwi centenary event served as a reminder of the history of the Methodist Church and the Mawng people, and how their past dedication and faith has helped to shape the Warruwi community today.
This article has been edited from the original sent by Rev Bill Harris and appears in the online version of New Times, a publication of the Uniting Church in Australia (SA Synod). The article contains his own reflections and understanding of the Methodist Mission on Warruwi and the recent centenary celebration.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

News from ‘ABAJA BA Kristo’ Rubengera, Rwanda

News from ‘ABAJA BA Kristo’ Rubengera, Rwanda
Communaute Diocesses Abaja Ba Kristo-Rwanda (established 1984)

There is regular contact between the Sisters in Rubengera, and the Sisters in Amerongen (Netherlands). Visitors have been received from the Netherlands and Germany. 

Janny Oorebeek (Netherlands)
The Sisters
Five young women have started their probation and are doing well. They feel at home and take part in the community life. They are given lessons connected to the life as a Deaconess. Their accommodation is in a house in the former orphan’s village, and Sister Domitille takes care of them.
There are concerns for the ongoing health problems of Sister Evodie; she endures her illness bravely and is nursed by the Sisters.
Several of the Sisters have undertaken studies and achieved good results. Good education is seen as significant. 
Sister Anysie and Sister Emerthe have been seconded by the Anglican Church to support some young women in their call to diaconal work. The new community’s name is ‘Esther Sisters’. The sisters pray that more young women will join this service. 

The Orphan’s Village
The Orphan’s village operated for 21 years, but since March 2016, the houses in the Orphan’s village have been empty. The children are now being cared for by relatives or have been adopted into families. The foster families are under the supervision of Sister Emilienne, who visits the children regularly and monitors their well-being. Most children have settled in well to their new situation. With the support of the Dutch ‘Godparents’, they are able to continue their schooling or their professional training. The official closing of the Orphan’s village will take place during a visit by Sister Doren and Janny Oorebeek on November 16th, 2016. It will be holiday time in Rwanda, enabling many children to participate in the celebrations, including former residents.

New Project
In the coming months, a new project will be initiated: the Family Centre. This project will support the poorest families in the neighbourhood close to the Sisters. About 40 families have been selected to form self-help groups, in order to improve living conditions for their families. As well, a day care centre will be opened for children between 3 and 6 years, to prepare them for elementary school. The now empty buildings of the Orphan’s village will be used for the new project. It is anticipated the opening of the project will be January 2017. 

Rubengera Technical Secondary School (RTSS)
In March, certificates were presented to the first group of schoolboys trained at RTSS. The great news is that every graduate gained employment, and that is extremely unusual for young people in Rwanda. The rate of unemployment is high in the country, but there is a big need for craftsmen and artisans. In this way, the school plays an important role!

Sr Epiphanie cutting with the grain on precision framesaw

Agriculture project
In July, a new group of farmers, men and women, started a theoretical and practical training course. 

Please uphold in prayer the work of the Sisters of ‘ABAJA BA Kristo’ Rubengera in Rwanda. 

(The original report was prepared by Sister Dorien, Amerongen)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

New 'Worship and Service roster' in ELCA

Deaconess Louise Williams
preaching at ELCA Churchwide Assembly, August 2016
A recommendations on ‘One Roster of Word and Service’ was presented to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly. In essence, the Assembly was asked to consider a recommendation to transition the three current rosters of Word and Service – Associate in Ministry, Deaconess, and Diaconal Minister – into one, new, unified roster of Word and Service, to be called Deacon. This recommendation has been many years in the making, and Louise Williams (past-President, DIAKONIA World Federation) has served on the ELCA task forces and teams that crafted it. 
Louise reports: 'The great news is that the ‘Word and Service roster’ passed overwhelmingly at the Assembly. Deaconesses, associates in ministry and diaconal ministers received a rousing ovation'.

(You can watch a video of the voting process for this recommendation here, starting at 17.50. I love the voting machines - very innovative)

(You can watch a video of Louise Williams' preaching at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly here). 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

RIP, Ormonde Plater, author of Many Servants

[The Association for Episcopal Deacons] The Association for Episcopal Deacons is saddened by the loss of Archdeacon Ormonde Plater, Diocese of Louisiana, to the worldwide diaconal community. Ormonde died aged 82 on Aug. 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration, after a long illness.

Ormonde Plater, Sept 6 1933-August 6, 2016
He devoted much of his life to the church and was a mentor to many during his time as deacon. IT would be hard to overestimate Ormonde’s contribution to the development of the Episcopal Church’s restoration of the distinctive diaconate in ordained ministry, and his theological leadership extended around the globe.  His book Many Servants: An Introduction to Deacons, provided a historical overview of the Episcopal diaconate and a rationale for the renewal of the order.  He also authored The Deacon in the Liturgy and Intercession, as well as other volumes which continue to play an essential role in the education and formation of deacons in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.
Ormonde’s leadership extended to the creation of the organizational infrastructure needed for the renewed diaconate to prosper, as well.  He was an early member of AED’s predecessor organization, the North American Association for the Diaconate, and he served faithfully on our board and as our president.  In his last appearance at one of AED’s assemblies, he provided a sage and comprehensive overview of the history and development of the Episcopal Church’s diaconal movement.  An early adopter of internet technologies, for over 20 years he has hosted the anglodeacons and archdeacons Yahoo groups, a modality of communications which has enabled deacons to communicate around the world and vastly expand their ability to collaborate in both diaconal action and in reflection on the renewed order.
Ormonde was ordained a deacon in 1971 at St. Anna’s Episcopal Church in New Orleans and retired in 2007. Over the years he served the Episcopal Church in parish, diocesan, prison and hospital ministries.
We know he rests in peace and are certain he has risen in glory.  Well done, good and faithful servant!

Rev Judy Sanderson ordained as a Deacon

Rev Judy Sanderson was ordained as a deacon and inducted into St Stephens Applecross Uniting Church on Sunday 7 August.

Rev Judy Sanderson
After a welcome to (Aboriginal) country from Rev Sam Dinah, minister with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC), Rev Bev Fabb, deacon and Interim Director of Education and Formation, preached on Micah 6:6-8: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Bev reminded those gathered that to be called into the ministry of a deacon, is to be called into ministry with the outsider, the broken, the hurting, poor, desperate and rejected. “Deacons are called to notice desperate people reaching out to touch them,” Bev said. “Faith is also found outside of the religious community.”
Bev explained that deacons are called to minister outside of the church to discover people of faith in unexpected places. She also said that Fresh Expressions, and new ways of being church, echo the calling of diaconate ministry.
Judy responded, saying she is humbled to serve, and is excited to journey with St Stephens Applecross Uniting Church. She then led the congregation in a greeting from her African American heritage, “The greeting “God is good” is responded to with “all the time”, then together “all the time, God is good.”
Members of the congregation presented symbols of ministry during Judy’s induction into St Stephens Applecross Uniting Church. Judy then celebrated her ordination by leading the congregation in communion.

Rev Sam Dinah - welcome to country

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

new Mother Centre in Mokpo, South Korea

On the 1st May 2016, coinciding with the 36th anniversary of the Korean Diakonia Sisterhood, the new Mother Centre in Mokpo was officially opened. The mother centre had been moved from Cheonan to Mokpo in June 2015. After a year’s preparation, all was finally ready to open the Mother Centre in Mokpo. The new centre is located near the sea and mountains providing a place of healing and prayer for the public as well as a home for the members of our Sisterhood. About 170 friends from Korea and abroad attended this occasion to share in celebration.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Vale, Moyra McCallum

Aberdeen Deaconess Moyra McCallum, 80, died on July 15, after suffering a pulmonary embolism. A deaconess in the Church of Scotland for more than half a century and a stalwart member of Woodside Parish Church, she also had a wealth of academic experience under her belt. Among her lengthy list of qualifications and appointments were an MA degree from the University of Aberdeen, a four-year spell teaching at St Margaret’s School for Girls in the Granite City and a first-class honours degree from St Mary’s College, St Andrews, in Old Testament – one of her great passions in life. She also lectured in biblical studies at Aberdeen University, lectured at St Colm’s College, Edinburgh, in the same subject, was president of the Diaconate Council and was junior chaplain to the Rt Rev Robert Davidson.
She never married or had children but was close to both her mother and father’s sides of the families as well as having many friends, including Elspeth McPheat, who lead a tribute on behalf of those closest to her. She said: “Moyra was a friend to so many people over the years. She was good at keeping contact whether they were from school, church or further afield. She never failed to be interested in what folk were doing to make you feel that you were special to her. Moyra made friends easily and she had the knack of being able to relate to all ages and so became Auntie Moyra to many of her friends’ children or their friends’ children. The shock and grief will pass but all that she meant to me and so many others will remain.” 

Colin McAlister, session clerk at Woodside Parish Church, said: “Moyra loved this church and every person in it with every fibre of her being and we loved her back in return. “We cannot begin to fathom how life in this place will be without her. One limb has been removed from the body. Yet, life will go on, we will continue to fight the good fight of faith, as she would want us to.”
Jane Martin, secretary to the Diaconate Council, said: “Moyra may have gone from our midst but her legacy lives on in those who were privileged to know and share life with her.”
Rev. Nancy Allison, a former colleague of Moyra’s at St Colm’s, spoke about her contribution to the missionaries’ college, where she worked until it closed. She said: “In many ways Moyra was our conscience – making us go deeper into everyday problems, insisting that we keep our eyes fixed on the mission and parish work for which our students were preparing, and never glossing over factions within the community. Moyra believed in the all-embracing love of Christ and knew that our true task at St Colm’s was to incarnate that same love in all its transforming power.”
Vale, Moyra McCallum, good and faithful servant of the Lord. 
Source: Aberdeen Press
The Church of Scotland Diaconate added: It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the death of Moyra MacCallum. Moyra nurtured and influenced generations of Deacons and Deaconess both within the Church of Scotland and the wider church. With her gentle humour, her intellect and deep faith, Moyra supported many leaders within the Church and had an amazing gift of seeing people's gifts and talents, often before the individual recognised those gifts in themselves.
We give thanks to God for all Moyra gave to the service of the Church and the diaconate and the many lives she touched. Our prayers are with Moyra's family and all those who were close to her and remember with tenderness that she is now with her Saviour and hearing the words - welcome Moyra my good and faithful servant.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Prayers for peace in a time of violence

The past month has seen violent attacks occur in locations across the world, many of which have been tied to the Islamic State (also known as IS, ISIS or Daesh). 
The most recent act of violence was inflicted on people in the heart of the busy Karrada neighbourhood in Baghdad, Iraq, on the night of Saturday 2 July. A bomb-laden truck entered the neighbourhood and ploughed into a building containing a gym, coffee shop and stores. At least 125 people died in the attack, including 25 children. 
Other recent attacks the Islamic State has recently claimed include a shooting at a cafĂ© in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and on security targets in Yemen. Other violent events in TurkeyJordannorthern Lebanon, the United States and France have also been tied to IS, but have not been claimed by them.
In the face of the terrible violence we continue to see throughout our world – in recent days, in Orlando, USA; Istanbul, Turkey; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Baghdad, Iraq; Syria; Yemen; Jordan; Lebanon; Israel, and Palestine – we cry out with the Psalmist, how long? How long will this cycle of violence continue?
We long for a world of peace with justice, reconciliation and hope. A world where our relationships are built on love, compassion, understanding, and nonviolent resolutions of our conflict.
Most people want to live at peace with their neighbours.
Desmond Tutu, a world leader in advocating for justice and peace, highlights that the powers for good in our world – those who respect each other and desire to live at peace with one another – are greater than those people who would draw us into a spiral of violence and hatred.
“I have heard and seen many examples of the cruelty that we are able to visit on one another during my time… I have also seen incredible forgiveness and compassion… Yes, each of us has the capacity for great evil… But for every act of evil there are a dozen acts of goodness in our world that go unnoticed,” Desmond Tutu writes in his book, Believe.
“It is only because we believe that people should be good that we despair when they are not. Indeed, if people condoned the evil, we would be justified in losing hope. But most of the world does not. We know that we are meant for better.” 
In Matthew 5:9, Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
We are following in the footsteps of Jesus whenever we seek to make peace: when we live nonviolently in our personal relationships, and when we actively participate in bringing reconciliation in our local communities; where we seek peaceful and nonviolent solutions to disagreements, and where we refuse to demonise and dehumanise others who are different to ourselves.
Jesus says to us – peacemakers – you are God’s children. 
We pray for peace:
Christ Jesus, 
We pray for peace and courage to resist all those forces that would lead us to hatred and violence. 
We pray for comfort for those who have lost family and friends in the recent killings. 
We pray for all those whose lives have been changed by the trauma of the attacks, and the disruption of their daily lives. 
We pray that we will see and respond to others through your eyes – as people of worth, created in God’s image and deeply loved.
May we be peacemakers with you, bringing hope and light to our world.
In your name, we pray. Amen.
(sourced from reflections by the Uniting Church (South Australia) Moderator Dr Deidre Palmer)