The World Council of Churches Ecumenical Prayer Cycle this week focusses on Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Peru. We hold in prayer the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil (Igreja Evangélica de Confissão Luterana no Brasil, IELCB) and those who serve in diaconal ministry. We uphold in prayer the diaconal sisters in Brazil (Diaconisa at Igreja Evangélica de Confissão Luterana no Brasil), and also give thanks for the faithful life of Ingrit Vogt.
The Deaconess Motherhouse was established in 1939 by Lutheran Deaconesses working in Brazil. German immigrants had felt the lack of someone who had knowledge in the area of nursing and pedagogy. That is why they requested that Germany send Sisters with training in these areas. Soon Brazilian women desired to work as sisters. In the Women’s Congress in 1938 the foundation of a Deaconess Mother House was approved to be built on Brazilian soil. On May 17th each year the Convention of the Sisters takes place to which all the sisters are invited from close and from afar. It includes women who feel themselves called to diaconal service, who have concluded a professional secular program, without theological formation, when they do not wish to work as ministers in congregations. These women are called diaconal Sisters. Likewise pastors and catechists are accepted into the Sisterhood.
The Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil (IECLB) added ordained diaconal ministers to establish a fourfold ministry, which also includes pastors, evangelists and catechists. All four ministries are considered equal in status in the church’s life, share the same salary scale, and require the same basic seminary education with special courses for each distinct ministry. The IECLB established the Department of Diakonia, which encompasses the diaconal ministers, the deaconess community and all the church’s health care and social service agencies and institutions. It also has a commitment to help mobilize people in congregations to do diaconal work. (from a paper by E. Louise Williams)
In 2016, the DOTAC Assembly was held in Porto Alegre. The theme was, Jesus’ Diakonia – From Crumbs to Whole Communion, inspired by the biblical text of Mk 7.24-30. Despite economic advancements, there are many people who still live under the table and feed from crumbs. Who are those people and why they are kept from participating on reflections and decisions that are taken around the table? What are the signs for hope and transformation? What are the chances for changing places: from crumbs to the table of whole communion? Through action and reflection, diakonia intends to promote people’s ascension from under the table to around the table. Diakonia is about "constructing tables at which all people may sit." (Rodolfo Gaede Neto)
We are thankful for:
* the distinctive rhythms, music, dance, food and natural medicine in this area
* the beauty of the region, forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, and ocean coastlines, and especially indigenous peoples’ relationship with, and care for, the natural environment
* churches who witness and work both ecumenically and with those of other faiths to build relationships of trust and commitment amid ongoing injustice and oppression
* the diversity of languages and cultures flourishing in the region despite disruptions that have occurred through colonization, and political and economic turmoil.
We pray for:
* Christians to have the courage, imagination and energy to build bridges of peace and understanding against conflict and division, and to pursue justice for the poor, marginalized and dispossessed
* an end of corruption in all levels of the society, including economic exploitation which impoverishes and hinders economic growth from benefitting all.
* immigrants and refugees seeking a new home, and those who accompany and support them
* cocoa farmers to find sustainable incomes from other crops, for an end to drug trafficking, and effective assistance for those who are addicted.
God of Life,
prepare our hands for a touch,
a new and different touch.
Prepare our hands for a touch,
a touch of encounter,
a touch of awakening,
a touch of hope,
a touch of feeling.
Many are the worn-out gestures.
Many are the movements frozen in time.
Many are the useless excuses just to repeat attitudes.
Give us daring
to create new titles of community,
new kinds of affection,
breaking away from old ways of relating,
encouraging true, meaningful ways to move into closeness.
(Ernesto Barros Cardoso, Brazil. Gifts of Many Cultures: Worship Resources for the Global Community, Maren C. Tirabassi and Kathy Wonson Eddy, United Church Press, Cleveland OH, USA, 1995, p.4.)
And the waters will flow from your altar, Lord
and flood the earth.
And we will be like a garden watered,
cared for, exposed to life.
Oh! let these waters come,
impetuous and pure,
and destroy the powers
and clean the paths
which my people will take,
singing and rejoicing
in an endless celebration,
the Word, Life, Freedom
and the Resurrection!
And the waters will flow from your altar, Lord,
and clean away the debris
and we will have courage to act,
to change the world.
And the waters will flow from your altar, Lord,
life will be rekindled,
and we will see the new creation,
act of your love.
(Simei Monteiro, Geneva, Switzerland. English transl. Colleen Reeks. Whole Life, Holy Life, Ernesto Cardoso, ISER, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.)