Saturday, November 24, 2018

Community Gardens

Congratulations to Rev Christa Megaw (Bridgewater Uniting Church, South Australia) who has been part of a community project to establish a community garden, funded by the Government Fund My Neighbourhood program and launched on 24th November, 2018. Christa is a member of the DIAKONIA World Federation Executive Committee.
Interested also to read about Rev. Jessica Stonecypher (United Methodist Deacon) in an article entitled Growing Food, Growing Community, Growing in Faith. Jessica writes: I’m a farmer. Well, really, I’m more of a community organizer seeking to bring people together around the idea of farming. It’s an endeavor that I’ve been dreaming of for many years and I’m excited to be actively participating in a growing movement around local foods and urban agriculture in my community. When I discerned my call to environmental ministry, I knew it would be a struggle. There simply aren’t many who can wrap their brains around how or why an ordained minister would devote her life to such a vocation. But as I’ve grown into my role as a deacon, I’ve learned that I would be miserable without engaging in the work that drew me to set-apart ministry in the first place.

Would love to hear other stories about Deacons engaged in community gardens and eco-theology. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Ingrit Vogt - good and faithful servant

Dc Ingrit Vogt (left) with Dc Lisa Polito at opening service, DIAKONIA World Assembly
Those of you who were at the DIAKONIA World Assembly in Chicago in mid 2017 may remember Deacon Ingrit Vogt who led the communion liturgy in the opening service.

It is with deep sadness that I share the news that Ingrit has died after having lived with cancer for some time.

Ingrit was a Deacon in the IECLB (Igreja Evangélica de Confissão Luterana no Brasil) in Brazil. For many years she served on the DOTAC Central Committee (DIAKONIA of the Americas and Caribbean). She also served on the DIAKONIA World Executive Committee. She served as the IECLB General Secretary for many years. She was a highly competent person, and also a gentle soul who led with a quiet, thoughtful determination and with wisdom. She also enjoyed a good laugh with friends and joyful fellowship.

She will be greatly missed by her diaconal community and the IECLB in Brazil, by the communities across DIAKONIA who knew her, and by her two sons and extended family.

May she rest in peace in God's loving care.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

WCC shocked by news of kidnapping at school in Cameroon

06 November 2018

World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit expressed shock and dismay at the news on 6 November of the kidnapping of 79 students and three staff, including the principal, from the Presbyterian Secondary School, a boarding school in Bamenda, in the northwest region of Cameroon.

“We are lifting up in prayer and solidarity the kidnapped students and staff, their families, their churches and their communities,” said Tveit.

“We pray to God, and appeal to those responsible for this kidnapping, for the safe release of all those who have been taken.” The school has pupils ages 10-14.

“This incident underscores the gravity of the crisis afflicting especially the western regions of Cameroon, and we urgently appeal for increased international and ecumenical advocacy and action for a just peace in Cameroon, in which the equal dignity and rights of all people in the country are respected and protected, and for the immediate cessation of all armed violence,” said Tveit.

“We pray for the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon, and for all the churches of the country, that they may be empowered and strengthened in their witness and for their pilgrimage for justice and peace in Cameroon and the region.”

Communauté de l'Emmanuel is in the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon, and a member association in DIAKONIA World Federation. Please pray for their community and for ministry in challenging times. 
Photos: Left images shows photo taken on Nov. 14, 2013 of a ship anchored next to destroyed houses in Tacloban City (top) after it was swept ashore during Super Typhoon Yolanda and motorists along the street (lower) on Nov. 1, 2018. Right combo images shows a photo taken on Nov. 18, 2013 of survivors of Yolanda marching during a religious procession in Tolosa, Leyte (top) and women holding religious statues walking along a highway in the same municipality on Oct. 17, 2018. 

TACLOBAN, Philippines: 8th Nov 2018 is the fifth anniversary of the country’s deadliest typhoon on record when Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated the Philippines in 2013. Monster storms strike more frequently than previously, packing destructive rainfall that experts say is supercharged by climate change. Yolanda struck in the predawn darkness as the then strongest typhoon to ever hit land, leaving more than 7,360 people dead or missing across the central Philippines.
The wall of seawater the typhoon that was sent crashing into densely populated areas – known as storm surge – is one of the key reasons it was so deadly. Many people simply did not understand the term and did not evacuate despite official warnings.
In the Philippines, roughly 15,000 of the poorest families were ordered relocated from the worst-hit city of Tacloban, yet many have not moved and those who have are struggling. Many people have chosen to stay in the area because the government-proposed housing in a safer area doesn’t even have running water and electricity. Moustafa Osman, a Britain-based disaster management expert, said: “Everywhere the single most difficult thing to do is to move people from their own village or territory and put them in a strange place. Unless you have a proper plan and a better alternative they won’t go. Substandard housing, difficulties in earning a livelihood, no transportation and even conflict with the existing residents of a resettlement area are habitual barriers.
The peril that looms over communities in the Philippines and elsewhere is only expected to grow because of the influence of global warming on extreme weather. Oxford University climate expert Friederike Otto said there is a clear connection between climate change and heavier, devastating rainfall. The storms packing these intense rains are expected to get more harmful as the impact of climate change manifests itself, and because so many vulnerable communities live in threatened areas. “How destructive a storm is crucially depends on who and what is in harm’s way.”
(Philippines Star)

We remember our Deaconess sisters in the Philippines and pray for their safety and strength for their ministry.

Monday, August 13, 2018

prayers for Oceania

The World Council of Churches prayer cycle for Week 34 (19-25 August) includes the people of the Pacific islands: Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Western Samoa and the French Overseas Territories of New Caledonia (Kanaky) and French Polynesia (Tahiti).

We particularly remember our deaconess sisters in Fiji in the Methodist Church of Fiji.

God, good and gracious Healer, be present with our brothers and sisters in Fiji. Thank you for creating them with a culture that values deep, intimate relationship. May we learn from their value of community.
"O Lord, our palm trees can no longer hide us from the world. Strengthen our hearts that we may
look with confidence to the future; through Christ our Lord. AMEN."
      (from "With All God's People", WCC Geneva)

Order of Deaconess in Nigeria ordinations

Two Deaconesses were ordained at the at the 46th/11th Biennial Conference in Aba in Abia State. Congratulations and blessings as you continue in ministry. And prayers for the Order of Deaconesses in the Methodist Church of Nigeria, and for the leadership of Ibironke O. Oremade-Oworu. In Ronke's words: 'You have learned Sisters during the years of your training and probation how various and exacting are the services which your calling will require of you. It may fall on you to preach the gospel, to lead the worship of a congregation, to teach both young and old, to nurse the sick........ '

The Prelate pronouncing the Ordination words on the Deaconesses.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Diaconal Sisters in Brazil - Annual Convention

Please uphold the Diaconal Sisterhood of Igreja Evangélica de Confissão Luterana no Brasil as they their Annual Convention, July 26 to July 29, to be held in São Leopoldo. May it be a time of learning and mutual encouraagement, and a time when God's Spirit inspires you in your diaconal ministries.

World Day of Prayer for Diaconia
The 26th of each month is aslo the World Day of Prayer for Diaconia, of which Diaconia of the IECLB is a member, so it seems very fitting for the Annual Convention to begin on the 26th. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Lutheran Deaconess Conference

The annual meeting of the Lutheran Deaconess Conference will take place from July 12-16th, 2018, in Baltimore MD at the Maritime Conference Center. Please hold them in prayer as they meet together as sisters for renewal, worship prayer and growth. Photos on the Facebook page.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


An historic day on Friday 29th June, when the DIAKONIA World Executive signed the official papers to register the Federation in Germany. This has been a lengthy process to this point, and will continue for several months more until registration is completed officially. Neuendettelsau Diakonie has agreed to partner with DIAKONIA World Federation as the 'home base' and we look forward to a fruitful relationship together.
The photo below shows two of the Project Team which has had responsibility to manage the process for change of domicile (Martin Vogler and Traude Leitenberger), the three Regional Presidents - Deaconess Meresiana Kuricava (President, DIAKONIA Asia-Pacific), Marianne Uri Overland (President, DIAKONIA Region Africa Europe) and Ted Dodd (President, DIAKONIA of the Americas and Caribbean), with Dr Matthias Hartmann (Neuendettelsau Diakonie) and myself (President, DIAKONIA World Federation).

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Karie Hamilton consecration

Congratulations to Karie Hamilton who has been consecrated a Deacon (ELCA) - front row, second from left.

David Rojas Martinez

Congratulations to Deacon David Rojas Martinez, consecrated at the Chapel of the Resurrection, Valparaiso University, on Saturday 23rd June. Blessings for your ministry. Familiar faces there to support David including previous DIAKONIA World President Louise Williams, and former DOTAC Regional President Lisa Polito and many more.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Regional Missionary Emma Cantor

Helping Women Find Power (published in United Methodist Church Response publication, June 2018),

United Methodist Women Regional Missionary Emma Cantor Leads Workshops Across Asia.

Emma Cantor works across a wide stretch of the world where people speak dozens of languages. That’s not an obstacle for Cantor, a regional missionary in Asia for United Methodist Women, because she says there’s a common language women share no matter the political or cultural context.

“Every part of Asia has its own language, but what is common is the love that women have for God,” says Cantor, a deaconess from the Philippines. “I’m thankful that United Methodist Women has given me the opportunity to talk, to be in partnership, to pray with, to teach, and to be friends with these women.”

One of the places where Cantor has made friends is in Myanmar, which is also known as Burma. For more than a decade she has accompanied women there as their country has slowly emerged from crushing military rule and international isolation.

After more than a century of British control, then Burma achieved its independence in 1948. Yet democratic rule was short-lived, and a 1962 military coup launched the country into decades of authoritarian rule. A growing pro-democracy movement slowly gained international attention in the 1980s, and Aung San Suu Kyi became its leader. Daughter of Aung San, the principle architect of Burma’s break with Great Britain who was assassinated on the eve of independence, Suu Kyi had lived outside the country for more than 20 years. Yet her family’s stature thrust her into a prominent political role. Frightened by her rising popularity, the military placed Suu Kyi under house arrest, preventing her from traveling to Oslo to receive the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.

Under continued domestic and international pressure, the military announced sweeping reforms in 2011. Although political and economic freedoms were expanded, the military remained the undisputed power behind the scenes. Those in charge were former military officers who swapped their khaki uniforms for suits and longyi—the sarong-type skirt traditionally favored by both men and women in Myanmar.

However military officers dressed, they watched as democracy activists continued to slowly erode their power, and by 2016 Suu Kyi became the State Counselor of Myanmar—the country’s de facto prime minister. While the world celebrated and eased sanctions against Myanmar, it remained clear that her power was limited. The military continued to be the final arbiter of power.

Despite the limits to her authority, or perhaps because of them, Suu Kyi is idolized by many in Myanmar. Yet many women in the country, like their political heroine, feel caught in the tension between wanting their rights respected and living in a political and religious culture that has pushed back against their empowerment.

Emma Cantor thinks that tension is the perfect place for mission to occur. Cantor started coming to Myanmar in 2005 to train Bible Women, who are laywomen in the Methodist Church who teach literacy and spread the Gospel in their rural villages. Over the years since, as the country has experimented with the promise and limits of democracy, Cantor has worked with a variety of denominations in Myanmar to expand the role and ministry of women within their churches and communities.

In October 2017, Cantor traveled to Kalay, a city in northwestern Myanmar that sits at the edge of Chin State, home of the ethnic Chin people. Often considered to be “doubly oppressed,” the Chin are a minority in a country where the dominant Bamar ethnic group controls most levers of power; moreover, the Chin are largely Christian in a staunchly Buddhist country.

Chin women sit even lower in the social hierarchy, and Cantor’s workshop was designed to challenge that by helping the women discover their own theological voice.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Two newly ordained Deacons - Episcopal Church (USA)

News from Association for Episcopal Deacons (U.S.)
Congratulations to the two Deacons ordained on Saturday 9th June - Lisa Siciliano and Paula Waite
(Cathedral of the Incarnation, Baltimore Md). 

(Always great to have news of ordinations, consecrations and other significant moments in our diaconal communities)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Vale, Deaconess Olivia Nataniela (Fiji)

FORMER Superintendent and long-serving matron at the Dilkusha Girls Home in Nausori (Fiji), Deaconess Olivia Kauroto Nataniela, has died on 31st May 2018. She served as the Superintendent at the Girls Home between 1973 and 1981, and 1985 and 2010, before she retired in 2011.

Deaconess Meresiana (DAP Regional President) writes: Deaconess Olivia Nataniela was one of the first four Deaconess in 1967 in Fiji. She has been called to rest on the 31st May 2018. She was from Motusa Rotuma. Thank you you have been a Beacon and a Light to the church and society.
Rest in Peace.
Deaconess Olive Nataniela and Deaconess Meresiana
From Fiji Times report
HUNDREDS gathered at the Churchward Chapel in Rewa Street, Suva, to bid farewell to the former Superintendent of the Dilkusha Girls Home, the late Deaconess Olovie Kauroto Nataniela.
Deaconess Olovie was born in Motusa, Itu’ti’u on the island of Rotuma on November 3, 1938, the youngest of nine children.
While delivering his eulogy on behalf of the Tigarea family, Sukamanu Mani said after her parents passed, she was then embraced into the family of the late Gagaj Jotam Tigarea.
“Soon after she was born, Olovie was embraced as a grandchild in the family of the late Gagaj Jotam Tigarea, who was chief of the Itu’ti’u district then and his late wife Sarote Tigarea of Pepjei,” Mr Mani said.
“Sarote Tigarea became a central figure in Olovie’s life from Olovie’s childhood, adolescence, into adulthood.”
Deaconess Olovie was one of the pioneers of the Methodist Deaconess Training in Fiji and Deaconess Terani Lalomilo also a pioneer said she was the instigator of many things that had happened while they were together and that she was a very loving person.
“She was very intelligent, she was very fun and I think one of the things that the church needs to have today is fun, we need to have fun,” Deaconess Terani said.
“Deaconess Olovie was also a very loving person because she always looked inwards, one of the most important things that Christians must do all the time is to look inward first.”

Fiji Times: Lady of love, care

Friday, June 1, 2018

Minnesota United Methodist Deacons

Minnesota United Methodist deacons meet at UMC annual conference and celebrated an ordination and a retirement!

Monday, May 28, 2018

DUCC - United Church of Canada

Gathering of DUCCs at the last meeting of the Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
Diaconal ministers in the United Church of Canada are members of the order of ministry who are commissioned to a ministry of education, service, and pastoral care. There are approximately 300 diaconal ministers in the United Church. You can find out more about Diaconal Ministers in the United Church Canada on their website

Diakonia of The United Church of Canada Statement of Vision

God calls us to diaconal ministry.
The gospel of Jesus invites all to this ministry:
to offer compassion and accompaniment,
to work for liberation and justice,
to act as advocates of creative transformation.
Diaconal ministry, as a recognized order, is rooted
within our faith tradition and history,
and it is continued and embodied
in an ecumenical, world-wide community.
This vocation is a journey
involving Spirit-filled enrichment and learning,
requiring humble offering of self,
demanding prayerful discernment and courageous risking,
exercising visionary and communal leadership,
promising joy and meaning,
and daring to imagine God’s abundance
in a world of love and respect.
Through education, service, social justice, and pastoral care,
diaconal ministry in The United Church of Canada,
encourages a growing faith,
speaks truth to power,
seeks mutual empowerment,
proclaims prophetic hope,
nurtures life-giving community,
fosters peaceful, right relationship,
within the church and the whole of creation
wherever the Spirit may lead.
Adopted at DUCC National Gathering, April 2009.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Congratulations, Rev Deacon Geraldine Swanson (NY)

The General Theological Seminary has awarded its distinguished alumni award for the first time to a vocational Deacon. Congratulations Geri Swanson, a member of the Sacred Order of Deacons in the Episcopal Diocese of New York! The Distinguished Alumni Award was presented on May 15, 2018.

The winner of the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award: The Rev. Deacon Geraldine Swanson

The Alumni Executive Committee of The General Theological Seminary is delighted to announce that the Rev. Deacon Geraldine Swanson, is the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award. Swanson is the deacon to the Richmond Episcopal Ministry overseeing the development of new ministries on Staten Island, NY and helping existing congregations revamp their vision for the future due to changing demographics and resources.

Swanson's diaconal ministry has been centered on serving under-represented populations in multiple roles of leadership coordination and direction, of a soup kitchen, an afterschool music program, and the Staten Island Hunger Task Force and Coalition for Housing Equality.

Ordained a deacon in the Diocese of New York in 1997, Swanson has served over 25 years as an educator in both public and private schools in New York City, both in the classroom and as a mentor to new teachers, trainer of teacher mentors, and staff developer. She has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Association for Episcopal Deacons for two terms, coordinated the Triennial Assembly in 2016, and is now serving on the Board of the Fund for the Diaconate.

A resident of Staten Island, Swanson filled multiple roles aiding relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Her efforts included setting up the parish hall for community needs, creating a drop-off center for donated food and clothing, providing meals for folks without kitchens, and arranging work crews from Manhattan parishes. While volunteering in a Sandy Relief Center, she visited every Episcopal parish on Staten Island, checking on status to report findings to the Bishop's office, providing additional holiday baskets to families on the heavily hit east and south shores, and supporting the work of “Soup in the Hood” to provide hot lunches for residents for residents of the Midland Beach community for a full year after the hurricane hit. Swanson was also a member of the Disaster Relief Committee, and ad hoc IPC Committee for the “Heart of the Home” Initiative, reviewing and approving renovations to kitchens in rebuilt homes with funds from Trinity Wall Street/Diocese of NY and ERD.

Swanson's invaluable contribution to the Episcopal Church's diaconal community has been her documentation of the history of the New York School for Deaconesses and the life of Susan Trevor Knapp, the only historical study of an important diaconal role model in a pivotal era. Completed for her General Seminary Master's Thesis, the material is the only historical study of an important diaconal role model in a pivotal era. Her analysis of this important figure from the “Second Wave” of diaconal theology provided essential background for the current development, for the first time in TEC's history, of a comprehensive theology of the diaconate.

The Distinguished Alumni Award was created in 2004 to recognize and hold up Seminary degree holders with both extraordinarily original, path breaking ministries and extraordinarily faithful, though quiet ministries.

Monday, April 16, 2018

DUCC gathering, April 17-20th, 2018

The National Gathering for Diaconal Ministers in the United Church of Canada takes place in Winnipeg from April 17th-20th, 2018. Prayers for them as they gather to share stories, to gather around the Word, and to be equipped and inspired for ministry. 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Rev Deacon Alan Maratja Dhamarrandji

Congratulations to Rev Deacon Alan Maratja Dhamarrandji, who was ordained a Deacon in the Uniting Church in Australia in March, in his home community of Galiwin'ku (Elcho Island), in northern Australia. Here he is pictured with Rev Deacon Felicity Amery, Presbytery Minister, Northern Synod, Uniting Church in Australia.

For about 30 years Maratja worked on bible translation work in Arnhem Land and has published the Djambarrpuyŋu New Testament. This painstaking labour of love involved large numbers of very skilled Indigenous and non-Indigenous linguists in the deeply cross-cultural exercise of translation.
Former Uniting Church President Rev Alistair Macrae writes: “It helps keep Indigenous languages alive and thereby represents an honouring not only of the language but of the culture as well. Maratja and his family live at Galiwinku on Elcho Island and live out of town on his clan homeland. In his quiet way Maratja and his colleagues in translation are heroes in communication, celebration of culture and commitment to sharing the good news in the language of their people.”

Maratja co-wrote an article in Indigenous Australia and the unfinished business of theology, entitled 'Receive, Touch, Feel, and Give Raypirri'. The abstract reads:
Who we are is about where we are. Identity has to do with the land, which in my case is about an island (Elcho Island). Land is connected with the sea, and the sand, as well as with the animals and the fish. Who we are is about those things together. There is a delicate relationship between Aboriginal people with those things. We don’t own the land or the sea; we are of the land and the sea, and the land and the sea are [with] us. I am from a saltwater people, and so our totems come from the sea. The land and the sea is also the home of our ancestors. The land and the sea are there (present) in our ceremonies. Who we are is about the togetherness of land, sea, ancestors, culture, ceremonies, and us. This is why identity is about land and sea, and all those things in there. Identity is about country.