Sunday, September 29, 2013

Today's sermon (at Pilgrim Uniting Church, Adelaide)

Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
This is the last Sunday in this Season of Creation series…..
A new report from the IntergovernmentalPanel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released in Stockholm on Friday, the result of 7 years work by more than 600 scientists and researchers, as well as policy makers. It stated there is now a 95% probability that humans are responsible for global warming. When 97% of scientists say there’s now a 95% probability than humans are responsible for global warning, we should sit up and take notice. We may need to reposition ourselves though, to move from an anthropocentric view of the world – where humans are the centre and everything else is at their disposal, to an eco-centric view of the world where the welfare of the earth takes seriously the intrinsic value of all life. What is good for the earth will also provide for the welfare of human persons but we may need to move our attention from ‘things’, to live with simplicity and contentment, so that life on earth is sustainable for humans.
The IPCC report presents a number of different scenarios of how climate change may unfold over the next century. It is predicted the sea-level will rise anywhere between 26 and 98 cm by 2100. It will bring disaster to our Pacific neighbours and many other parts of the world. The temperature is predicted to rise anywhere between 2 - 4.8 degrees Celsius. The report states that many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed. The amounts of snow and ice have diminished. The sea level has risen and concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon says, "The heat is on. Now we must act". 
The passage in our reading from 1 Timothy seems to have little to do with this – yet everything to do with some of the underlying causes…..
This passage was written in the context of the Roman Empire, but the words leap off the page in an era dominated by materialism, consumerism and acquisition. There is an insatiable desire for ‘things’. It seems we can never have enough. It’s an endless cycle of acquiring more, in the vain hope of finding contentment, meaning, identity through acquisition. This is particularly so in western countries.
The passage has a great deal to say about one’s attitude to money, to acquisition. It invites us to reflect on the connection of godliness and contentment - for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. Anthony de Mello's  contented fisherman  so effectively juxtaposes the attitude of relentless acquisition with the fisherman who has enough and is contented. The word “contentment” (from the Greek term autarkeia)  conveys the important Stoic concept of not being bothered by external circumstances. We don’t need ‘things’ to find that contentment.
Contented Fisherman
One lazy day the rich man found the fisherman lying beside his boat smoking a pipe. The rich man was horrified. “Why aren’t you out fishing?” the rich man asked. “Because I have caught enough fish for the day,” the fisherman answered. “Why don’t you catch some more?” the rich man demanded. “What would I do with it?” replied the fisherman.“Earn more money. Then you could have a motor fixed to your boat and go into deeper waters and catch more fish. That would bring you money to buy nylon nets, so more fish, more money. Soon you would have enough to buy two boats... even a fleet of boats. Then you could be rich like me,” explained the rich man. “What would I do then?”  asked, the fisherman.“Then you could really enjoy life,” the rich man asserted. “What do you think I am doing now?” said the fisherman. The rich man fell silent and shook his head. 
Richard Rohr in his daily devotional email this week reflected:
“We are all complicit in and benefitting from what Dorothy Day called “the dirty rotten system.” That’s not condemning anybody; it’s condemning everybody because we are all complicit in and enjoying the fruits of domination and injustice. (Where were your shirts and underwear made? What wars allow us to have cheap food and gas?) Usually the only way to be really non-complicit in the system is
to choose to live a very simple life. That’s the only way out of the system!
Thus most of the great wisdom teachers like Gandhi, Saints Francis and Clare, Simone Weil, Dorothy Day, Jesus and Buddha—lived voluntarily simple lives. That’s almost the only way to stop bending the knee before the system. This is a truly transfigured life in cultures which today are almost always based on climbing, consumption, and competition (1 John 2:15-17)
Once we idealize social climbing, domination of others, status symbols, power, prestige, and possessions, we are part of a never-ending game that is almost impossible to escape. It has its own inner logic that is self-maintaining, self-perpetuating, and self-congratulating, as well as elitist and exclusionary. It will never create a just or happy world, yet most Christians never call it into question. Jesus came to free us from this lie, which will never make us happy anyway, because it’s never enough, and we never completely win”.
It makes sense then that those who have riches “are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life” (1 Timothy 6:18-19). Without that generosity and preparedness to share, greed for money may well plunge others into poverty and ruin.
Rev Dr Jason John (Deacon in the Uniting Church in Australia) is a passionate advocate for eco-justice. He says the double-edged call of eco-justice is premised on the view that the human degradation of nature, of which greenhouse gas emissions and global warming are but a symptom, is fundamentally linked to the social patterns and social institutions that oppress human beings. We cannot address one without the other. Poverty is an ecological problem, just as violations of natures biodiversity and the biosphere have exacerbated the extent of global poverty. So, eco-justice assumes that to address environmental degradation in our world we must also challenge the exploitation of the poor. In other words, one part of the world cannot live in an orgy of unrestrained consumption while the rest destroys its environment just to survive.
The passage concludes (6:17-19) with wisdom about using one’s wealth effectively. Freed from the need to accumulate as the means of finding meaning in life, people can turn their attention beyond themselves to the welfare of others and learn to love effectively with the means they have. As we intentionally go deeper into our connection with God, into the heart of love, generosity, compassion, justice and peace, we will then find freedom to connect meaningfully with others, and to our world - and to the best we seek for ourselves – the path of contentment and joy. May it be so.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Doris' prayer letter - September 2013

When all seems black,
help me to remember the peace of Your promise
When all seems dark,
Help me to remember the purity of Your light.
When all seems hopeless,
Help me to remember the comfort of Your words
When all seems discord,
Help me to remember the harmony of Your creation

Dear Friends in DIAKONIA,

Let us continue to encourage, support and help each other! Praying is also to remember the comforting and healing powers of our God!

-for Nairobi and all the people involved, hurt and destroyed through hatred
-for Asia, Philippines, Mexico and all the other countries where so many lost everything through Hurricanes and Taifuns

Praise God for the life of Betsy K. Ewing, DIAKONIA President 1972 – 1979, who passed away last week . ( read more on facebook) (she was instrumental for the Manila Assembly 1979).

Liebe Freundinnen und Freunde in DIAKONIA

Wenn alles schwarz erscheint,
hilf mir mich an den Frieden deiner Verheißungen zu erinnern
Wenn alles dunkel erscheint,
hilf mir, mich an die Reinheit deines Lichtes zu erinnern
Wenn alles hoffnungslos erscheint,
hilf mir, mich an die tröstende Kraft deiner Worte zu erinnern,
Wenn alles durcheinander erscheint,
hilf mir, mich an die Ausgeglichenheit deiner Schöpfung zu erinnern.

-Nairobi, betet für die Menschen, die verstört, verletzt, trauernd sind durch den Hass der so viel zerstört
-Für Asien, die Philippinen, Mexiko und andere Länder die von der Zerstörung durch Hurrikans und Taifuns betroffen sind

Wir danken Gott für das Leben von Betsy K. Ewing, DIAKONIA Präsidentin 1972 -1979, die in der vorigen Woche 90 jährig verstarb. (Leitete die Konferenz 1979 in Manila).

Connected in Prayer and Service/ Verbunden im Gebet und Dienst,

Schwester Doris Horn

A prayer for the invisible

This prayer seems so appropriate for diaconal ministry agents.......

A Prayer for the Invisible

Unseen behind the screen of our million dollar media entertainment are the millions of unnoticed suffering people on our planet..
Unseen behind the vast connections of social media are the lonely and marginalised.
Unseen behind the booming tourist industry are the millions of displaced people - refugees and asylum seekers.
Unseen behind the grandness of our courts and legal systems are those in places who hunger for justice.
Unseen behind our medical system are those who can't access adequate health care.
Unseen behind our towering economies and commercial enterprises are those who labour in sweat shops or in servitude.
Unseen behind our global trade endeavours are those who are trafficked.
Unseen behind the civilised veneer of our society are the forgotten, neglected, and ignored.

Invisible God,
Who works behind the scenes of our world,
We pray for those who seem invisible in our communities; our society, and our world.
Help us to look for the unseen .
Help us to glimpse the extent of their suffering
Help us to view their plight with compassion.
Help us to see what we can do to help
Help us to have vision for how we can change things for the better in the world.
Help us envisage your Kingdom and our role in its coming.
In Christ's name, may this be so.

Jon Humphries

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Vale, Deaconess Betsy Ewing

Lisa Polito, President of the DOTAC Region (DIAKONIA of the Americas and Caribbean) has paid tribute to the life of Deaconess Betsy Ewing, United Methodist Deaconess. Betsy died last week at the age of 90. "She was instrumental in the work of DOTAC and DIAKONIA, being DIAKONIA World Federation President in the late 70's and early 80's. I enjoyed visiting with her at Brooks-Howell home in Asheville, NC, USA where she lived her last years".

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Deaconess Lisa Polito and Deaconess Betsy Ewing

Monday, September 23, 2013

Praying for Kenya

Once again we are shocked by the senseless violence and killing of innocent people, this time in Kenya where armed criminals entered a Westgate shopping centre on Saturday afternoon, throwing grenades and firing automatic weapons. There are varying reports of how many people have died. The Somali militant group al-Shabab with links to al-Qaeda, has said it carried out the attack (confirming this on their Twitter feed). Al-Shabab has carried out a string of attacks in Kenya since 2011, when Kenyan troops moved into southern Somalia to fight the militants there. This escalation of violence and attacks is very concerning, and we all grieve the tragic loss of so many lives.

Security forces surround the shopping centre
the charred cross - a symbol of defiant and audacious hope!
While exploring information about the ELCK, and the work of the ELCK deaconesses, I was interested in an article I read about a small church in the slums of Nairobi with Pastor Dennis Meeker, and his wife, Lorna Meeker, an ELCK Deaconess. The church had been looted and partially burned during the unrest in January 08 (post-election). The sanctuary is still functional. The charred cross remains on the wall behind the altar. The wall still holds the black and white marks of fire. The plan is to leave it as is - as a reminder that Christ is victorious - He is risen and no matter what darkness overtakes us, Christ is our stronghold. It gives great comfort to those who see it. What a brilliant symbol to hold before the church as it gathers for worship, and especially in times of great upheaval and violence. We can trust in Christ.

Please pray for peace in Kenya, and for the National Deaconess Association of ELCK (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya).  

A prayer in the wake of the shootings in Kenya (adapted from a resource by Rev Mindi) praying for Kenya, and for ourselves as we respond to the news from Kenya.

(Based upon Psalm 23)
Shepherding God, You are the one who leads us into life. In the wake of the shootings, lead us away from fear and revenge and instead to the still waters and green pastures of love, grace, and peace. Guide, and guard, our hearts so that we might not react out of anger and hatred ourselves, but out of love for humanity that comes from Your love. Lead us in the paths of righteousness and justice for Your name’s sake.
Even though we walk through the darkness of bombings, of shootings, of war in our world—the shadow of death looms near—we will not let fear overtake us. We will not fear evil in this world, for You are with us as a shepherd is with his sheep. You are comforting us as a mother comforts a hurt child.  We feel your hand on our shoulder as we walk through these dark days.
In the presence of those who hate, You are preparing the table of love for us.  You bless the ones who love and call us to be transforming love in the world, so that even the ones who hate will be transformed by Your love.  Our blessings overflow because of the love You have shown through our reaching out to one another—through the acts of kindness, the caring strangers, the daring first responders, the solidarity of compassionate  human beings.
Surely goodness and mercy will be with all of us all the days of our life.  Surely goodness and mercy will overflow and overwhelm any acts of evil in this world. Surely goodness and mercy will overcome the world, and we will dwell in the love of God forever.  Amen.

Ev. Lutheran Church of Finland - and congratulations to Terttu Pohjolainen

Deaconess Terttu Pohjolainen
Congratulations to Terttu who was presented with the gold badge of merit of diaconia by the church Deacon board and pastoral committee of the Ev. Lutheran Church of Finland. The presentation to Terttu, along with two other recipients - Mary Long Beach and Lea Rättyälleat - was held at the Assembly of Finnish Deacons and Deaconesses of the Ev. Lutheran Church of Finland at Jyväskylä on the 18th of September. Terttu has served as the Deputy Director of the Institute of Lahti deacons and deaconesses. She has developed training for diaconal ministry in the field of higher education, vocational training and adult education.

Terttu has served on the DIAKONIA World Executive for many years, the Executive of DIAKONIA Region of African and Europe (DRAE). Until recently, Terttu also represented DIAKONIA in the ecumenical partnership with the World Council of Churches. Thank you, Terttu, for your faithful service and congratulations on your recognition with the gold badge of merit of diaconia.

The President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, sent greetings to the Deacons and Deaconesses assembled at Jyväskylä. He noted  that the word 'deacons' originally meant to serve, and in particular to cover the dining room table.
"Today, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church maintains a meaning of a word by doing the work of our fellow human beings in distress. Diaconal workers are the key experts for this job".
The President
referred to the Diakonia Barometer 2013. According to the barometer, many diaconal workers are concerned about the economic challenges facing young people in particular and also many other factors such as loneliness and depression, and life management issues.
Church welfare and education activities affect young people and disadvantaged groups positively. By tackling issues and taking action, we can all one way or another to help the people around us. We need co-operation between the players, to build bridges".

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Henri Nouwen (1932-1996)

Henri Nouwen was a Dutch Catholic priest who became an esteemed professor at both Yale and Harvard, but then followed the path of “downward mobility” in his pursuit of Jesus. He left the public eye to work among those struggling to survive in Latin America and then joined the work of L’Arche Daybreak Community in Canada. He was a “wounded healer” whose restless seeking for God has left a legacy to the world through prolific writings on the spirituality of brokenness and vulnerability.

He died suddenly on this day in 1996.

Here's a great quote from Henri:

"In the face of the oppressed I recognize my own face and in the hands of the oppressor I recognize my own hands. Their flesh is my flesh, their blood is my blood, their pain is my pain, their smile is my smile. Their ability to torture is in me, too; their capacity to forgive I find also in myself... when someone murders, I know that I too could have done that, and when someone gives birth, I know that I am capable of that as well."

A thoughtful insight for diaconal ministry. 

(source: Shane Claiborne's Facebook post)

Methodist Church in South Africa (MCSA)

Highlighting the MCSA:
Vernon van Wyk regularly posts updates on the Methodist Order of Deacons Facebook page, with news of Methodist Church of South Africa (MCSA) as well as issues of interest to the wider church. It has been interesting to read his updates from the MCSA Conference held in Mthatha in the last week.

Rev Elize Goddess (2nd left), Rev Ray Goddess & Deacon Vernon van Wyk
For instance, the Conference heard a report from the Child Care Desk which included this statement:

The Child Care Desk affirms the Methodist heritage to care for the poor by encouraging the people called Methodist to serve children and youth who are vulnerable and at risk due to displacement, and high unemployment.
War threats, poverty, disease, HIV/AIDS and deprivation continue to destroy many children’s livelihoods and future.
The collective family of Methodists, through their efforts are committed as they serve the structures established at district levels to attend to children who are vulnerable and at risk.
MCSA Districts are working hard towards becoming a compliant church and body of Jesus Christ fulfilling Gods intended mission for all children.
The Desk wants to ensure that “No Child is not Known”

Yesterday, the world news reported that South African police had lied about events in the "Marikana Massacre' last year, with the mass shooting of striking miners at Marikana last year, according to a commission of inquiry set up by President Zuma to investigate the killing of 34 miners at a mine run by the platinum giant Lonmin in August 2012. The report accuses police of falsifying and hiding documents, as well as giving false accounts of events. The accusations are bound to increase anger among miners. Last week they held a protest in Pretoria over the government’s refusal to pay legal fees for those giving evidence.

In response to the first anniversary of the 'Marikana Massacre', the MCSA Presiding Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa issued this statement:

"As we pause to reflect on the anniversary of the Marikana Massacre, we should take a moment to pray for the still grieving families and together mobilize resources in cash and kind to ease their plight.  To sympathise verbally is not enough. Our actions should include supporting the call for funding their legal representation at the Farlam Commission. Failure to represent workers and victims of the massacre at the commission would be a travesty of justice.

The Methodist Church pleads with all the mine workers and community members in Marikana, irrespective of union or political affiliation to work towards peace and stability as the on-going senseless killings are worsening an already intractable situation. We pray that the first commemoration of the Marikana tragedy on 16 August 2013 will be a solemn occasion devoid of political overtones and that both the mining authorities and Government will do everything within their power to ensure that the commemorative events are treated with the dignity they deserve.

May God guide us to find a just and sustainable solution to one of the darkest periods of our nation. God's heart bleeds when his people are treated unjustly and we implore the various stakeholders to heed the pain of God and His people. Our humanity is at stake". 

The ministry context for the MCSA is very complex. Please hold the MCSA diaconal ministers in your prayers, as well as the diverse work of the MCSA.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Community together

My sermon on Sunday reflected on the '99' and the '1' (Luke's Gospel) and invited reflection on the '1' with fresh eyes - not as the lost sheep that has gone astray that we might associate with the lonely, the loveless, the alienated, the misunderstood, the brokenhearted, but rather the rich, powerful, and privileged who have gone astray from the '99', who exist far from the heart of those in the local and global community whose lives they impact. The '1' could also be those people and places where wealth, health, opportunity, education etc is seen as a right, and the '99' are those in the global community who struggle to survive and to strengthen community life and resilience. How might we be community together, seeking the common wealth and the common good for all. I came across this reflection from Pastor Steve Garnaas-Holmes on next Sunday's RCL lectionary reading from Jeremiah and was struck by the imagery and meaning. It invites us to be with God, present in the most difficult of circumstances: 'the heart of God is hidden in the wound of the world'. What might this say to us in building and supporting relationships across the breadth of the DIAKONIA world community?

 For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt,
                  I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.
         Is there no balm in Gilead?
                  Is there no healer there?
         Why then has the health of my poor people
                  not been restored?
                           —Jeremiah 8.21-22

Lay aside the armor of your little troubles.
Quit your sordid affair with happiness.
Enter the black-draped house and stay there.
Your sister and brother are in the mourning parlor,
and they need you to sit with them.
Christ is not consorting with angels above,
but still among the slaves and prisoners,
mothers helpless beside their children,
the scum, the used, the lonely and despairing.

Let your heart be ruined with them.
It is for them, yes, and for you—since hearts,
like seeds, give life when broken open.
But first it is for love of God
(imagine the tears of God that no one dries),
that God should not weep for her children alone.
Even if it changes nothing— will you do this?
Come sit with God in our overflowing grief,
for the heart of God is hidden in the wound of the world.
What privilege is higher than to be shoulder to shoulder
with Christ, his hand on yours, carrying the cross?

Don't expect it to get better, to stop hurting. It won't.
Don't be afraid to mourn for the world,
to bear the wound too deep in you to be patched,
to stay sad a long time, without demanding relief.
For here in the deep root of our pain is our oneness,
and here is the Heart at the heart of the world.
The wailing of a God who is not easily consoled
is the sound of a love that is never overcome.
Our sorrowful longing is the Spirit of God,
who creates worlds. Our hurt is our hope.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Peace pole installation and edible fruit garden

Today my colleague Jana and I, with a few willing helpers, installed the peace pole at the front of Pilgrim Uniting Church. The pole has the words 'May peace prevail on earth' in English, in Kaurna (language of the Aboriginal people of the Adelaide Plains), Dinka (the language of the people of South Sudan - Pilgrim has a relationship with the Dinka speaking congregation in the Uniting Church) and Tagalog (Pilgrim is developing a partnership with Middle Luzon Jurisdiction, United Church of Christ in the Philippines). The peace pole is a great statement about peace being what we all seek as a global community, no matter what language we speak or where we come from. Especially pertinent with the escalated concerns in Syria, the fighting in southern Philippines and the ongoing unrest in so many countries of the world. We planted rosemary and lavender around the peace pole as symbols of peace.
One of our morning congregations will gather round the peace pole as part of the service tomorrow, to offer prayers for peace.
Rev Jana Norman & Matilda
While we were at it today, we also installed four raised garden beds, each with a citrus tree (lemon, mandarin, orange, lime) and added spring flowers and basil plants. A tremendous effort but so pleased with the results. You can check out more photos on our Facebook page (Pilgrim Uniting Church) but here's a sample.
rosemary, a symbol of healing
Rev Jana Norman & Rev Paul Turley

Archie waters the flowers

peace pole: may peace prevail on earth
the dwarf lemon tree and seedlings

Monday, September 9, 2013

Two new Deacons in the Uniting Church in Australia

Rev Lyn Leane and Rev Albert Patrizi were ordained as Deacons in the Uniting Church in Australia on 8th September in Adelaide. Lyn is currently in ministry in a multi-cultural congregation, which includes a number of African refugees. Albert is in ministry as a prison chaplain. Congratulations to them both. Some of the Deacons in Adelaide came to support Lyn and Albert.

Congratulations to Rev Lyn Leane and Rev Albert Patrizi

Season of creation

(adapted from a sermon at Pilgrim Church on 8th September)

On Sundays in September we celebrate 'seasons of creation', and we acknowledge the joy and delight we find in nature. Our Spring Festival next week will see our church filled with beautiful flowers and foliage. The garden bed alongside the driveway will be transformed into productive edible plants, and the vegetable garden in the corner will be given a spring clean ready for a new round of plantings. It is right we enjoy these delights.

But there is something deeper too as we recognize that nature and earth itself reveals God to us. As our spirits are lifted by beauty - and rugged awesomeness, we find God revealed to us. Photographer Ken Duncan loves to spend time in unique landscapes, which offer an invitation to pause and reflect on the beauty of our natural world. It was in such a time, on his own surrounded by nature, that he experienced a revelation of God and came to faith.

God is revealed in creation, as God has been revealed in the life of Jesus Christ, as God is revealed in each of us. God is everywhere, an embodied God always able to be revealed, ‘the ground of our being’ (Paul Tillich). “God is Love‟ rightly reveals love as energy which shapes life‟s relationships rightly, in ways that are more harmonious, empowering, joyous and just, reflecting “the divine‟.

Father Thomas Berry said, ‘We have no inner spiritual life if we don’t have the outer experience of a beautiful world.

He went on to say: 'The more we destroy the world the less a sense of God is possible...’.

It’s sobering to consider that a means to experience God may be diminished when the world itself is diminished through carelessness, and pragmatic decisions that sees earth as something to be used and exploited rather than treasured.

This understanding of God transforms our relationship to nature because the earth itself reveals God.

Jason John, who completed his doctorate in the area of eco-theology, says that ‘this understanding rejects human-centred theology which subtly endorses our destructive dominance of nature through human technology, in favour of a view which takes seriously the intrinsic value of all life. Our nobility as a species is contingent on us relating  rightly from a position of responsible dependence within the biosphere. Then, loving our neighbour includes loving nature. Then, unconditional love, grace or life abundant may begin to fill the Earth, for grace is that which is ultimately life-giving, allowing and enabling us to be who we really are’.

Australia has elected a new government (September 7th). As we go forward together, we need to be mindful about the common good, and policies that affect the poor, the dispossessed, the marginalized, the vulnerable.

But the knowledge of God’s self-revelation in creation also affects how we respond to projects and activities that exploit the earth. It changes how we relate to climate change. It changes our priorities about how we invest our money - whether into projects that are life giving or into those that damage the earth and damage communities.

The church can play a significant role in public discussion, decision making and advocacy on these vital issues, informed by a theology that recognizes God may be revealed in and through earth itself.

'In the season of Creation we celebrate Christ together with creation, we face the ecological crisis with Christ, and we serve Christ in the healing of creation' (Norm Habel). 
(Diaconal ministry has an important role to advocate not only for people on the margins, but for the welfare of earth itself, and for communities whose lives are tied so closely to the land).

Friday, September 6, 2013

Clergy and lay Women's Peace Conference in Manila

Deaconess Emma Cantor (President, DAP) has been part of the group meeting for the UMW Peace Conference in the Philippines attended by 38 Indonesian and Filipino Clergy and Lay Women.

There are significant Issues for ministry in Indonesia and the Philippines, and some were discussed at the conference including:

* the Asian situation on peace and migration
* unpeace and peace in Asia
* Ecofeminism and advocacy for a peaceful earth
* sharing of the struggles and joys of women in the ministries of the church
* Biblico theological reflections on the perspectives and resolution of peace and unpeace in the churches
* empowering the churches towards building peaceful communities
* advocacy and engagement for peace in all levels.

As well, there was a separate seminar on early childhood education for the participants as part of engagement to peace and a visit to preschools and poor children's communities.

Please remember these women in your prayers.

Participants in the UMC Peace Conference in Manila

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Jeremiah & the potter (RCL reading for September 8th, 2013)

A thoughtful and hopeful reflection on Jeremiah 18:1-12 - and a word of encouragement to those offering diaconal ministry in challenging contexts.

The potter shaped clay as God sought to shape Israel:
but they said, "No use!"

The potter's wheel
turning, turning, turning;
centred clay shaped by the potter's hand
and water in small degree:
shaping, shaping, shaping,
creating a new thing of use and beauty.

In a moment the clay resists
spoiling, spoiling, spoiling,
the effort of the potter's hand.
Yet just as sudden work begins again,
building, building, building,
to reshape and bring to worth a creation altogether new.

Intention, love, free will, creativity:

The prophet saw love amid his nation's bleak future:
intending yet reticent evil sitting with yearning and hope
for a fruitful, faithful people.
            © Jeff Shrowder, 2013.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma

The Conference of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma in August 2013 endorsed Deaconess Meresiana Kuricava as the Administrator of the Deaconess Order of the Methodist Church in Fiji, a role she has held previously. Congratulations, Meresiana! We continue to pray for the deaconess ministry in Fiji, especially in the challenging physical, social, economic and political context in which ministry is offered.

Deaconess Meresiana Kuricava

Loving God,
provide a voice for our struggles.
Provide extra paddles to bring us together.
Grant peace to our hearts, our ears and our eyes
to forgive and to love our neighbours and our enemies.
O Lord, give us a chance to redeem the Fonua
and to reclaim paradise.

Rev. Valamotu Palu, Fiji
(Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: In God's Hands)

Lord of the Fonua
You have blessed us with the beauty of our lands and sea
You have blessed us with fish, shells and mighty whales
You have blessed us with palms and coconut trees
You have blessed us with children of the Pacific
Glory be to your name, today and forever
Rev. Valamotu Palu, Fiji
(source: Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: In God's Hands)

Church in Fiji department heads will continue in their appointments next year while some changes will be seen at the executive level. Yesterday’s representative session of the Church’s annual conference endorsed the following to continue in their respective posts for the year 2014: -Secretary of the Department of Christian Citizenship and Social Services- Rev Iliesa Naivalu. -Secretary for Lay Pastors, Lay Preachers and Worship- Rev Buisena Ravoka -Secretary of the Department of Methodist Women: Deac- Salanieta Naucabalavu. -Secretary for Education- Rev Josefa Katonibau -Secretary for Non-formal Education- Rev Semisi Turagavou -Principal of the Theological College- Rev Joeli Qionivoka -Principal of the Methodist Lay Training Centre/Secretary of the Department for Young Peoples- Rev Penijamini Masara -Administrator of the Deaconess Order- Deac. Meresiana Kuricava

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Copyright 2013 ©
Church in Fiji department heads will continue in their appointments next year while some changes will be seen at the executive level. Yesterday’s representative session of the Church’s annual conference endorsed the following to continue in their respective posts for the year 2014: -Secretary of the Department of Christian Citizenship and Social Services- Rev Iliesa Naivalu. -Secretary for Lay Pastors, Lay Preachers and Worship- Rev Buisena Ravoka -Secretary of the Department of Methodist Women: Deac- Salanieta Naucabalavu. -Secretary for Education- Rev Josefa Katonibau -Secretary for Non-formal Education- Rev Semisi Turagavou -Principal of the Theological College- Rev Joeli Qionivoka -Principal of the Methodist Lay Training Centre/Secretary of the Department for Young Peoples- Rev Penijamini Masara -Administrator of the Deaconess Order- Deac. Meresiana Kuricava

Read more at:
Copyright 2013 ©
Church in Fiji department heads will continue in their appointments next year while some changes will be seen at the executive level. Yesterday’s representative session of the Church’s annual conference endorsed the following to continue in their respective posts for the year 2014: -Secretary of the Department of Christian Citizenship and Social Services- Rev Iliesa Naivalu. -Secretary for Lay Pastors, Lay Preachers and Worship- Rev Buisena Ravoka -Secretary of the Department of Methodist Women: Deac- Salanieta Naucabalavu. -Secretary for Education- Rev Josefa Katonibau -Secretary for Non-formal Education- Rev Semisi Turagavou -Principal of the Theological College- Rev Joeli Qionivoka -Principal of the Methodist Lay Training Centre/Secretary of the Department for Young Peoples- Rev Penijamini Masara -Administrator of the Deaconess Order- Deac. Meresiana Kuricava

Read more at:
Copyright 2013 ©