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.