Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sister Inga Bengtzon - a remarkable life

Sister Inga Bengtzon (20 July 1920 to 6 May 2017) has passed away at the age of 97 in Uppsala, Sweden. Sister Inga was President of DIAKONIA for some years. Her funeral will be Friday 2nd June in Samariterhemmets Church, Uppsala.

We give thanks for her life that was dedicated to faithful service, and for her inspiring leadership and wisdom. 

Sister Inga served for 65 years as a Deaconess. She was a visionary. Here's one of her statements written in 1984 when she was Director of the Diaconia Foundation Samariterhemmet, addressing a Nordic diaconal meeting about the prophetic dimension of diaconia: 

"Diaconia is foundational for the church, she argues. It “is and shall, and must be prophetic, fore- sighted, predictive, energetic, fearless – salt and light to the world.” Referring to the General Assembly of the WCC in 1983, she argues for the inclusion of a self-critical dimension of the diaconal role that challenges the church’s “locked, frozen, static and self-centred structures” in order to turn them into “workable, living instrument for the church’s task of healing, reconstruction and sharing with each other.” Diaconia cannot be limited to institutional forms. It must “break through the already established structures and demarcations in the institutional church” in order to act, heal, and build in the world. Prophecy is a message that must be advanced, regardless of cost, Bengtzon argues. But the prophet’s message is inconvenient, because it “exposes and opposes all situations and circumstances where people are violated against or violate God’s creation.” This is what it means to be “salt” in the world (Bengtzon, 1984, translated from Swedish).

Sister Inga published books and contributed articles to many journals. She served on many committees exploring diakonia, and engaged in many ecumenical dialogues on diakonia and the church. 
Her publications include: 

Bengtzon, Inga M. Diakonia. II The Organisation of DIAKONIA, in: Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement, Geneva/Grand Rapids 1991. 

Bengtzon, Inga. “Diakonia Worldwide: Does the Church Need a Diaconate?” St Colm's Public Lecture, Edinburgh, 1988.

Bengtzon, Inga M. “The Churches and the Diaconate in the Ecumenical and International Perspective”, 1985. 

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