Saturday, December 19, 2015

Deacons in the Methodist Church of New Zealand

In 2013, a Deacon was inducted under the stationing process into a parish - St Stephen's in Tauranga,  with Deacon Margaret Birtles the history-making Deacon. 
Deacon Margaret Birtles (left) with Deacon Edna Evans (middle) at the induction service
The following is the report prepared for the church conference in November 2015. Please hold in prayer our brothers and sisters in diaconal ministry in the Methodist Church of New Zealand. 

DIACONATE TASK GROUP of the Methodist Church in New Zealand
The Task Group continues to be available to support new deacons, and to be a sounding board/advisory group to churches and people needing information.
We have met with Rev Nasili Vaka'uta and Rev Val Nichols at Trinity College and are assured of their support for future deacon candidates. Recently we were invited to speak about the Diaconate to present and future students, with the whole service themed around the ministry of deacons. We spoke of the 30 year history of the present Diaconate and gave insights into the work deacons have involved themselves with, as well as giving a brief look at the ministries of deaconesses before 1976 when the Diaconate was reformed to include men. Deacons, after suitable training were also then Ordained at Conference.
In May would-be candidates and deacons met at Wellspring for a one day Retreat with Rev Liz Hopner. This was very helpful as a gathering place as well as in encouraging those in active ministry of the importance of self-care.
In April 2016 we are planning to meet for 3 days at Convocation in or near Christchurch. We are glad of the renewed interest in the Diaconate - with deacons working alongside presbyters and lay people and reaching out to their communities in their churches geographical areas.
We were saddened by the death of Deacon Jean McInnes last November – Jean served in many honorary welfare roles and was awarded an MBE for services to the community.
We asked 3 active deacons to share their areas of ministry for this report.

Falinisesi (Sesi) Hafoka (Glen Innes, Vahefonua). Sesi is an on-call primary teacher.
She is involved with a weekly gathering for elderly Tongan people and visits and participates in their activities such as weaving, cooking, Bible study, and sharing stories. In her Chaplaincy role she represents the Churches Education Commission (CEC) often spending time with needy children, or helping students make right choices, as well as in helping teachers with pastoral care.
Sesi helps the presbyter in serving Holy Communion, and with funerals, and is a Marriage Celebrant. Sesi says that through a relationship with Jesus, prayer and Bible reading, along with the love of God, healing and transformation comes to many lives.

Ruta Galo (Mangere-Otahuhu Parish). Ruta is a full time primary teacher. She has experienced many challenges, heartaches, fun times and blessings at work. She encourages the congregation to 'go out to Love and Serve'. She is involved with the Fitlife group, and family workshops, along with public questions/debates with the local community. Ruta has established a network of support with people from church, work and family which stabilises her quite busy and often hectic lifestyle. She is active in her local church with children and families e.g. Confirmation classes for youth, along with social activities. At work “Positive Behaviour for Learning Teams” and an “Incredible Years Team” includes the development of 4 key values: Responsibilities, Resilience, Respect and Relationships. She hopes to develop and nurture young church leaders from these.
Two deacons are stationed in smaller churches half time and both are doing well as they give time to their local communities as well as being deacon in their church setting.

Deacon Ruta Galo with her son Fau'ula and mother Susana
Megan Alley is stationed at Kaurihohora (Kamo/Whangarei) and her involvement with the community is with the local hall committee, fundraising, a craft group especially for Mums and babies, Girls Brigade support, teaching lonely and young people to cook healthy meals, providing transport and leadership for Mainly Music, hospital visiting, as well as church duties and leadership.
The Task group is encouraged by renewed interest in the Diaconate ministry of Te Hahi Weteriana. We give thanks to God and to all who have supported us over the years.
Members of the Diaconate Task Group will continue as is for 2015/16: Co-Convenors: Edna Evans (retired) & Margaret Birtles with Brenda Fawkner, Rachel Tregurtha (retired), Megan Alley (ordained 2012, Deacon in placement, Kaurihohore, North Auckland), Ruta Galo (ordained 2014).

Deacon Brenda Fawkner (second from left)
Taranaki Base Hospital’s Chapel celebrated its 50 year anniversary in May 2015, and Deacon Brenda Fawkner was there with past and present chaplains to celebrate (she was appointed locum chaplain in 1995). 

Click on this link for stories about other Deacons in the Methodist Church of New Zealand - Deacon Rachel Tregurtha, Deacon Richard Williams and Deacon Lorna Goodwin. 

No comments:

Post a Comment