|Final year students, Deaconess House (photo: Marion Gledhill)
February 10th is Deaconess Day in the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma, a day to affirm and celebrate the ministry of deaconesses in and through the church. We pray for blessings for the Deaconesses and students, and for their ministry in the church.
'God who sings in our hearts, as the flute needs openness to receive the breath of melody, we pray to be open to the many ways that your symphony of love plays in our lives. Thank you for the way that your enlivening Spirit touches us and moves through our beings. Remind us often that each one of us is a special instrument of yours. Together we create the wondrous music in your concert of love. Breathe through us, Music Maker, and let your song weave a melody through all we are and do. May we acknowledge your power at work in us and open ourselves to this blessing'. (Words: Joyce Rupp, Out of the Ordinary)
A brief history:
From as early as 1878, missionary sisters have served the church in Fiji teaching in schools, caring for orphans, providing medical and nursing care and engaging in evangelistic, pastoral and social and community work. In 1953 the Fijian Synod of the Methodist Church of Australasia appointed the first Deaconess Committee because all Fijian annual meetings had recommended to the Synod the establishment of a Deaconess Order. In around 1966, three women - Mulya Dharanji, Sister Ethel Brent and Gladys Campbell - bought a property for the purpose of setting up a Deaconess Training Centre. A multiracial group of volunteers along with the first four deaconess students made preparations and on February 10, 1967, classes began.
Deaconesses have served as chaplains, religious education teachers and in pastoral appointments as assistants to ministers. Here's a story from Fiji Times about deaconesses caring for aged people.
In November 2013, five deaconesses were commissioned: Amalaini Rokodolo, Asenaca Sigabalavu, Merenaisi Maopa, Saini Rogadi and Unaisi Tulou (photos below).
Also, this year celebrates the Golden Jubilee of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma - 50 years since the first Conference was held as an independent church in 1964, after 129 years of being a Methodist Mission, firstly for the Methodist Church in Great Britain and then the Methodist Church in Australasia. The Methodist Church is the largest Christian denomination in Fiji and Rotuma. (We hope to hear more news about the Golden Jubileee celebration during the year, as celebrations get underway!).
|commissioning service, November 2013
|newly commissioned deaconesses, 2013
|Deaconess Amalaini Rokodolo from Mali Island
These three photos are sourced from Babasiga blogsite.