Friday, October 22, 2021

Rwanda sisters - October newsletter

Sr. Dorien Peet has sent this newsletter on the latest developments in the Rwandan sister community. 



From 20 August to 11 September, Janny Oorebeek and sr. Dorien visited the sisters in Rwanda. The first week of our stay, two board members of the Friends of Sisters in Rwanda foundation were present: René van de Kieft (chairman) and Maarten van Ginkel (treasurer). A good friend of our Amerongen sister community also participated in the trip. For the three gentlemen it was the first introduction to the sisters and their work. They were very impressed by the enthusiasm of the sisters and their projects.                      


During our stay we experienced two celebrations of the sister community: the decoration of Philomène, which after her probationary year received the uniform and was officially incorporated into the community.

August 24, the official transfer of the leadership was celebrated: sr. Marie-Louise and her substitute sr. Domitille were consecrated for their new task and sr. Berthe was thanked for the years she led the community.


The sisters are aware of the importance of education, not only for children and young people, but also for themselves. Several sisters have completed or started a study. Internal training courses have also been given in recent months, e.g. in the administrative field. It is nice to see how the community grows in independence and joint responsibility.


Fortunately, the school, which opened last year, was back in full operation, after months of silence due to corona. It was wonderful to experience the enthusiasm of the teachers and the children!

There are now a total of 320 children at school with the sisters (kindergarten and first three classes of primary school). Of these, there are more than 100, whose parents cannot pay the school fees. From the support fund, these children are helped, not only with school fees but also with a uniform, materials and school meals. The parents meet regularly in self-help groups, to share their experiences and to save for small projects (microcredits).


In August the expansion of the school started and at the end of September it was already as far as you see in this picture! 

The sisters will be very happy if more children can be accepted, because the number of applications exceeds the possibilities they have now. They find it very difficult to say 'no' to the parents, who want their child so badly to go to the school of the sisters!

In addition to classrooms, a dining room, kitchen, library and offices will be realized in the new building.


On 11 October, secondary schools started again. A total of 62 students are enrolled, of which 14 are girls. Unfortunately, some of them could not start yet due to lack of money. How nice it would be if we could find sponsors for some students! 


In September, the final touches were made to the water project. Due to several setbacks, it all took longer than planned, but now there is good hope that the water, which is supplied from the new source, will continue to flow! 

During the rainy season, full use can also be made of rainwater, for which special reservoirs are available.

The presence of water is even more important in corona time, because hygiene measures must be observed and that cannot be done without water!


When visiting two farmers and a farmer's wife, we could see how the  participation in the agricultural course of the sisters changed their lives:

All three now have a good income, with which they can support their families, send the children to school and offer people work. Wonderful to see how hard they worked and how the fields were irrigated with eggplants!

In September, a group of 150 farmers started again, who indicated that they would like to learn how to work their land better and generate more income.


In addition to her task as director of the technical school, sr. Emilienne follows the children who have lived in the orphan village and are still sponsored.

Most children are doing well, but there are also very sad situations: young girls who get pregnant, children who have a hard time in the family where they live, great poverty, bad houses ...

From the foundation we try to help sr. Emilienne by making the necessary resources available. We are grateful for the sponsor parents, who sometimes support 'their' child for years!

For some children we are looking for (new) sponsors.


René van de Kieft gives his impressions of the trip:

We had been looking forward to it for a long time. Postponement again and again... and then finally we fly south, exciting!

After a long drive with many holes and potholes we arrived in Rubengera, where a meeting awaited us to never forget!

Honestly, I thought sisters were polite, kind, courteous and welcoming - they were, and also with a lot of humour, but sisters dancing festively together?

Then you cannot stand still and you feel like one of the family!

I was deeply impressed by what they all do in terms of work, with great dedication, in the sewing workshop, in the kitchen, on the land, wherever.

And so many children at the school, singing, clapping their hands and proudly speaking their first English words.

Can you imagine your own children standing at the school gate early in the morning after walking a while to enter?

I feel very grateful that I was able to experience these encounters and learn so much from this warm sister community, in a beautiful country where everything seems to flourish and grow naturally.

It no longer surprises me that Janny has pledged her heart to the Rwandans, just like others who have visited the sisters.

It's great that we can make a difference as a friends foundation. And.. that you learn again to be intensely grateful for everything that is common here. 

René van de Kieft

We are very grateful that Alice van Barneveld has joined our board as secretary. In September she started her task with enthusiasm. She will introduce herself in the next newsletter.

The month of December is in sight, with everything that goes with it. Maybe you're going to send Christmas cards again this year? Then we would like to point out the beautiful cards made by the Rwandan sisters. They can be ordered by mail: or


- the beautiful time we experienced as board members with the sisters

-the sisters were able to expand their chapel, which had become too small, thanks to a donation

-the expansion of the kindergarten and primary school could be started

-God saved the sisters from illness due to Covid-19

-the schools could start again!


-new sponsor parents for some orphans and students

-wisdom for sr. Emilienne in providing aftercare to the children of the former orphan village

-wisdom for sr. Marie-Louise and sr. Domitille in leading the community

-finding ways to help people out of poverty

On behalf of all board members of the Friends of Sisters in Rwanda Foundation, I thank you for all your sympathy and for your prayers.

A warm greeting and God's blessing!

Sr. Dorien Peet

"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, who is in heaven."

Matthew 5:16

Friday, August 20, 2021

Prayer for Afghanistan

We are weary, O God. 
Weary of the magnitude of problems in our world.
Weary of troubles that overwhelm us.
Our global community has seen too much despair
disappointment and destruction, loss and grief.
If we are on our knees in prayer, we feel we may not rise again. 
And yet, in your company, we have the courage to face our realities,
and to name them in the spirit of prayer.
In between the words, we leave space for silence,
for those things that can best be expressed only
by lament, sighs, and sorrow.
And yet, it is in these moments that the truth
of our human condition can be seen most fully,
and named most truthfully.  
We pray for Afghanistan. 
For people wearied by war, violence and destruction.
For people living under the long shadow of fear and uncertainty.
For people whose lives have been upended and in turmoil. 
For people desperate for hope, longing for peace.
We pray for shelter and safety and some semblance of certainty
for those whose lives are at the mercy
of leaders who wield power by weaponry, not wisdom. 
We pray for women and children, and their families, 
those at risk of losing life and liberty, and access to learning. 
We give thanks for the courage, strength and wisdom
that has grown silently within them, 
that it will sustain them in body, mind and spirit
and be enough for them to endure in the midst of troubles. 
We pray for those who have evacuated in fear of their lives, 
who have left behind loved ones and all they held dear,
uncertain about what happens next. 
We pray for ourselves, for we know that differences
in language and culture and customs
can serve to distance us from real human need,
until the situation is dire and threatens to overwhelm us all.  
We feel helpless, angry at inaction and delays by those with power to act,
frustrated by the foolishness and destruction of war 
while lining the pockets of those who manoevre to be beneficiaries.
Help us to find the courage to speak on behalf of others
when their voices have been silenced, 
to name ugly truths and to sow the seeds of justice.
We pray for those we name as enemies,
though the words are hard to form on our lips and in our hearts.
We pray for their awakening to the welfare and well-being of others
to see that vengeance and violence sow the seeds of dissent and despair.
May nation building be founded on justice, and the value of each person. 
We pray in the name of Jesus
who revealed to us the God of compassion and love,
a God who invites us all to be part of a new family of God,
a kin-dom of people whose lives are shaped
by love, justice, peace, compassion and right living. 
Even when we journey through dark valleys and on barren ground, 
we pray, because we are not alone:
God is with us, and remains with us forever. Thanks be. Amen.  (Rev Sandy Boyce, August 2021)

Selah (SEE-lah) is a Hebrew word used in the Psalms that means “to pause and reflect upon what has just been said.” It may be used at different times in this prayer to create a space for prayerful reflection. 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

MAMRE FJKM - Consecration of 4 new Sisters

Sister Angéline from Mamre FJKM writes:  

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The consecration of the four new Sisters: Sister Fara, Sister Pierrette, Sister Dina, Sister Minah finished safely on 24th July 2021. We are very happy to thank God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit for the plentiful grace of life’s donation of each. 

Some of you followed this service with Facebook F.J.K.M Ambavahadimitafo. 

The Mamre’s Sisters are happy to offer you their gratitude and their warm thanks for your prayers and best wishes because: “God is not unfair. He will not forget the work you did or the love you showed for him in the help you gave and are still giving to your fellow-Christians” (Hebrews 6:10)

Thank you very much indeed.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Church bells ring in Norway on 10th anniversary of Utøya attack

Floral tributes lay outside Oslo Cathedral on Thursday.
The flowers have become a symbol of the country's response to the attack, when roses were piled outside Oslo Cathedral in the days after the mass killing. 

Church bells rang for five minutes across Norway on 22 July, marking the 10th anniversary of the twin attacks that killed 77 Norwegians and left hundreds of others scarred for life “both in body and soul,” as Oslo Bishop Kari Veiteberg put it at the memorial service in the Oslo Cathedral. Memorial services were held, from those in individual homes to churches to a service in the Oslo Cathedral.  

I remember being in Tanzania for the DRAE Assembly, followed by the DIAKONIA Executive Committee meeting. As the Executive were gathered in the small meeting room, news came through of the horrific attack and the tragic loss of life. I remember so well how shocked Rev Marianne Uri Øverland (DRAE) was as this news came through from her home country. She, along with the people in Norway, still bear the pain and sorrow of the attack. Marianne was part of the service in the Oslo Cathedral. 

At the memorial service attended by survivors and relatives of the victims, political leaders and Norway's Royal family, the Prime Minister Erna Solberg said: "It hurts to think back to that dark day in July ten years ago. Today, we mourn together. Today, we remember the 77 that never came home". 

The memorial was held in central Oslo outside what was once the prime minister's office. People also expressed their sorrow by leaving red roses at cathedral and in public places. 

Eight of the victims died when a car bomb was detonated outside a tower block housing the offices of then Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. Less than two hours later, a lone gunman attacked a summer camp organized by the ruling Norwegian Labour Party, killing 69 people and injuring more than 100 others.

Norwegian Bishop Erik Varden spoke of the "grief and perplexity" of Norwegians. The attack was the deadliest violence in the country since the Second World War. Ten years, on, the nation is still in grief, and still struggles to understand how something as brutal as that act could happen in a nation that is peaceful, and that prides itself on being peaceful. So were united in grief and perplexity and also in indignation that such a thing should have happened here.”

Some parents of the victims reflected on how the country has coped since the massacre, saying that “time does not heal all wounds." 

“What would those who were so brutally and unfairly killed think of us now 10 years later? I think they would be sad to know that there still are survivors and bereaved with great needs,” said Lisbeth Kristine Roeyneland, whose daughter, Synne, was killed by Breivik. Roeyneland runs the national support group for victims and families. "I think they would be disappointed in seeing the public debate in many ways has moved in the wrong direction. I also think they would be proud of us. Proud of how we reacted in the days after the terrorist attack and how our state under the rule of law firmly stood its ground in the face of brutality.”

Astrid Hoem, a survivor from Utoya who leads the AUF, the youth wing of the center-left Labor Party, said, “We have not stopped the hatred,” and urged Norway to face up to the racism in the country. “It is so brutal that it can be difficult to fathom. But it’s our responsibility to do so. Because 10 years on, we must speak the truth. We haven’t stopped the hatred. Far-right extremism is still alive. The terrorist was one of us.”

The victims came from all parts of the country and memorial services were also held across Norway, with people also laying down flowers in other cities.

The words of Shirley Erena Murray's song serve as a prayer for the people of Norway: 

SONG: When Human Voices Cannot Sing
When human voices cannot sing
and human hearts are breaking,
we bring our grief to you, O God
who knows our inner aching.

Set free our spirits from all fear - 
the cloud of dark unknowing,
and let the light, the Christ-light show
the pathway of our going.
(Words: Shirley Murray, (*v 3&4 omitted); tune: St Columba

Interesting academic research here - a critical discourse analysis of the annual memorial speeches and coverage from 2012 to 2014 which examines how visions of national identity are produced in and through the remembrance of the terrorist attacks. 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Wildfires and climate change

Wildfires and bushfires are becoming more regular, and earlier in the summer season, amplified by high temperatures, drought, lightning strikes and climate change. Climate and fire scientists have long anticipated that fires on the west coast of the U.S. (and other places) would grow larger, more intense, and more dangerous. 

A wildfire in southern Oregon is currently threatening transmission lines that carry imported power to California.

Temperatures have soared in the inland and desert areas of California as fires burned in the north. In California’s agricultural Central Valley, Fresno reached 111F (43.9C), one degree short of the all-time high for the date. Temperatures in Death Valley reached 130F, the highest high recorded since July 1913, when Furnace Creek desert hit 134F – largely considered the highest measured temperature on Earth.

The newly formed Justice Committee of DIAKONIA World Federation changed the title of the Committee from Social Justice, to Justice, to accommodate the pressing challenges in our world brought about by climate change, environmental matters and eco-justice. It would be great to know in what ways those in diaconal ministry are engaged in environmental matters - education, advocacy, recovery ministries etc. 

Remembering catastrophic bushfires
We remember…cinders and sadness. 
In agony, creation fought to survive, and communities were decimated.
We remember the loss of fauna, flora, farms and families.
O God, we heard the cries. We felt the heartache. We saw the tears.

We saw the courage, response and resourcefulness of communities.
We who have so much offered and assisted, but we could not prevent or postpone
the living pain, the terror and dying from the destructive roar.
We have lived with the ongoing loss and groaning
of all what was, and is, and will continue to be, grieving with this reality.
We remember….
A silence is kept

Creator God,
Today we call to you in one voice.
Together, we celebrate our Earth.
We delight in all its diverse ecosystems.
We are awed by the variety of fauna and flora.
We are inspired by its wisdom and capacity to regenerate.

Generous One,
We are sorry that as your people, part of this great creation,
that our greed and sense of power has wreaked havoc on this splendour.
Our shame is too often set aside in bluster or denial.
Our anger is too often expressed in blame.
We too often do not take responsibility,
not wishing to put effort into relationship with the earth and consideration of the ‘other’.
We are sorrier than we can say. Forgive us.

In trust, with love, you call us to you,
And encourage us to act and see in a new way.
For you forgive us, and re-direct us to take our place in the midst of this wondrous creation.
Restoration and renewal draw us forward
to seek the right way of living, being just and acting with humility.
We listen and learn together, calling on our strength as God’s people to collaborate,
with consideration of all of creation and our small part with in it.
May our footprint be the size that fits in this wondrous earth,
sustaining, supporting and sensitively responding,
together with the Earth. Amen

A prayer by Disaster and Recovery Ministries, an Ecumenical Ministry in South Australia, providing pastoral care for communities who are recovering from disaster, whether natural or those of human origin.

Floods in Europe

No doubt you've seen the news of the devastation of the 'once in a century' floods in western Europe The floods have been fuelled by days of heavy rain, leaving thousands homeless after their dwellings were destroyed or deemed to be at risk. Elected officials are concerned about the lingering economic effects from lost homes and businesses. Elsewhere in Europe, dikes on swollen rivers are at risk of collapsing, and crews have raced to reinforce flood barriers. In one flooded German town, the ground collapsed under family homes. In another, floodwaters swept through an assisted living centre, killing 12. The number of dead has passed 125 and the search continues for hundreds of missing people. 

We are particularly mindful of the safety of Deaconess communities in Europe, and grateful for their willingness to help where possible. Please remember them in your prayers. 

We pray too for the rescuers facing such a huge task. 

This prayer by Maren Tirabassi

God who always walks across water, 
come to the people of Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands. 
Tenderly reach out a hand
for those who grieve
so that they do not sink.

Get into the small boats of fear
of those who wait for 1300 missing.

Become the shoreline of hope
for those who work through the night
rescuing, searching,
providing shelter, food,
fresh water, medical supplies.

For those in evacuation shelters
give peace-be-still to anxiety,
and grow faith large enough
to find a sun in tomorrow. 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Prayers for South Africa - civil unrest

There has been considerable civil unrest in parts of South Africa following the arrest and imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday (7 July), for contempt of court after failing to appear to answer corruption charges. The unrest began in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal. President Mr Ramaphosa stated: “This is not who we are as a nation,” and called for peace. Much of the ensuing violence, looting and chaos does not appear to have anything to do with Mr Zuma’s imprisonment. There is a great deal of pent up anger after many years of suffering, and deep-seated frustrations over poor governance. Mr Ramaphosa described it as: “Opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft” and destruction of property. President Cyril Ramaphosa said that there was no justification for the violence and that it was damaging efforts to rebuild the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The situation of the country, especially in Johannesburg where a majority of the population are the Zulu (former President Zuma’s ethnic tribe), has escalated. Johan Viljoen, the Director of Denis Hurley Peace Institute) says, "There is shooting everywhere. People are standing on bridges overlooking the highways and shooting aimlessly. Burning cars can also be seen on the streets and people are running in all directions with looted items. The people’s suffering has been aggravated by the COVID-19 lockdown in the country, which has left many without any sources of income. People are suffering from extreme poverty and some are risking their lives, dodging live bullets to steal food from people’s shops because they are hungry. People have witnessed a total mess in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout where a negligible percentage have accessed the vaccination against the target masses. There is zero social assistance from the government and the people are not happy about the way the government is handling the economic crisis.” Meanwhile, South Africa is battling a severe third wave of the coronavirus pandemic driven by the highly contagious delta variant.

The South African National Defence Force has been deployed to assist the South African Police Service  in bringing the widespread chaos under control. At least 72 people are confirmed dead in the week since Zuma's arrest, and police say hundreds have been arrested.

South Africa is home to an estimated 57 million people, of whom 77% profess to be Christian. There are two member associations of DIAKONIA World Federation - The Methodist Diaconal Order, and the Highveld Deacons. 

Please remember the people of South Africa in your prayers at this crucial time:

* for an effective response to the current crises

* for the protection of life and property

* for believers to be voices for peace and reconciliation

* for unity and reconciliation across all ethnic groups

* for those in positions of leadership

* for a solution to the poverty and unemployment people are experiencing

* for containment of the COVID pandemic

Sunday, June 6, 2021

United Methodist Deacon 25th Anniversary

Congratulations to the United Methodist Deacons on their 25th Anniversary.  

Please check out the celebrations of the Anniversary shared from Garrett-Evangelical Seminary

Inaugural Crain/Seymour Lecture: Mary Elizabeth Moore

Lecture by Margaret Ann Crain

Service of Celebration

Social Justice Panel


United Methodist Office of Deaconess and Home Missioners

The United Methodist Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner welcomed 15 new deaconesses and 2 deaconesses transferring their relationship to the United States from the Philippines in a virtual service of welcome and dedication on May 3, 2021. 

The candidates who were welcomed to the Order on May 3 had met every requirement to be deaconesses and home missioners.  

Originally, these deaconesses were to be consecrated in-person at General Conference in September, which had been postponed from 2020.  While everyone would have loved to together in-person, our virtual service allowed guests who would not have been able to travel to General Conference to be included.  Each candidate shared their name, location, and ministry.  Several who are already deaconesses created videos of welcome, which were shared as a part of the service, and that added an extra layer of love and support for these individuals.  

Congratulations to the following Deaconesses! 

Anti-Racism Programming 2021

The World Council of Churches has awarded DOTAC a grant from their “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace” program.  The WCC PJP is focused on North America for 2021.  The programs address racial justice and/or indigenous rights (see link for more detail).

Registration is free.  To register for any of these programs send an email to

DOTAC Racial Justice Journey

Working and learning together to be anti-racism advocates and allies. 

Thursday, June 17 and Thursday, July 15 

noon—1:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time

KAIROS Blanket Exercise 

Building understanding about the history of colonialism and its impact on Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada 

Monday, August 9

1pm- 3:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time 

or 6pm- 8:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time

Exploring the Missing Chapter

Raising awareness of the nation-to-nation relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in the United States.

Monday, October 18

1pm- 3:00 pm Central Daylight Time 

or 6pm- 8:00pm Central Daylight Time

Non-Violence Training

Exploring with Christian Peacemaker Teams, the basic tactics for social change and de-escalation skills.

Monday, November 2 Central Daylight Time

Noon—3 p.m.


Mondays in May: A DOTAC Seminar Series on DIAKONIA

DOTAC seminar series featuring scholars who have written and conducted research related to diakonia began on May 3.  They have been a rousing success.  Almost 200 people have asked to be on the registration list, and we have averaged about 80 for the live sessions.  The speakers’ presentations have been recorded and made available to the registrants, (see the links to the first three below) on our Facebook page, and will be uploaded to our website.  

See more:

May 3:  Reverend Doctor Carlos Emilio Ham

“Diakonia in Times of the COVID Pandemic: Are We Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?” 

May 10:  Sister Dottie Almoney

“Reclaiming the “D” Word -Diakonia in the Church” 

May 17:  Deacon Dionata Rodrigues de Oliveira

“Brazilian Perspectives on the Diaconate: Empowerment, Diaconal Methodology and Transformation”

May 24:  Reverend Doctor Margaret Ann Crain

“Full and Equal Order: 25 Years of the United Methodist Order of Deacon”

May 31:  Reverend Canon Deacon Michael Jackson

“The Diaconate: Seeking an Ecumenical Consensus”


The Deaconess Community/ELCA

The theme of the 2021 ELCA Deaconess Community Assembly was “Love, Walk, Flourish.” Sister Noreen Stevens was re-elected to her second four-year term as directing deaconess at the 2021 Deaconess Community Assembly, held April 7-10. “As a Community called to prophetic diakonia and compelled by the love of Christ, we will continue to listen and act on the Spirit’s disruptions that open our hearts and minds to the broken, beautiful world and faithfully act on new opportunities, build on the strength of partnerships, work for justice and the flourishing of all God’s creation,” said Sr. Noreen.

The Assembly was held electronically this year, which enabled many of the Community's partners to attend. 

The Community welcomed guests: 

Diaconal Minister Ted Dodd, President of DIAKONIA of the Americas and the Caribbean; 

Deaconess Lisa Polito, Executive Director of the Lutheran Diaconal Association; 

The Rev. Crista Schrauf, general secretary of Kaiserswerth General Conference, Kaiserswerth Germany, 

members of the Maine Poor People’s Campaign and 

Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis to lead us through a study of Micah 6:8 at a pre-assembly learning event.

“We seek to practice the best of Community as we celebrate our faithful, intentional connections with one another and our partners,” said Sr. Noreen.

This Zoom event enabled many Sisters, Candidates, and guests to attend for the first time in years. Days filled with worship, plenary sessions, breakout room discussions, elections, resolutions that call for intentional engagement of our vision, and celebrations, ended with social events, such as an interactive CLUE game, pub-style trivia, and BINGO, designed to cultivate community time for those who attended.


DOTAC Monthly Zoom Prayer Meetings

This DOTAC group meets on the first of every month for a time of check in, reflection, and prayer.  We met on April 1, which this year was Maundy Thursday, and focused on the footwashing story in John.  On May 1 we considered the Easter Appearance stories from the gospels and our experiences of resurrection hope.  

We meet on the first day of each month. Even months (June, August, October, etc.) are held at 5 pm Central Time and on odd months (July, September, November, etc.) at noon Central Time.  If you are not already on our list, send an email to and a reminder and the Zoom link will be sent to you closer to the date.

Centre for Christian Studies

The Centre for Christian Studies celebrated graduation with a series of online events this spring. The Centre, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba focuses on formation for Anglican Deacons and United Church of Canada Diaconal Ministers.

Taking advantage of the online format of their learning circles, an open session was held Saturday April 10th, and members of the community joined students to hear biographical profiles of diaconal ministers, deacons and deaconesses. Some of the people profiled were in attendance! That morning also featured conversation with 2021 Companion of the Centre Anne Manikel.

The following weekend continued the celebrations with an online worship service and online tea. Highlights of the worship service included a reflection by Companion Anne Manikel and communion. Updates to the zoom software enabled guests are the online tea to ‘wander’ from room to room, visiting with graduates and friends.

Although in person gatherings are greatly missed, online celebrations have allowed participants far and wide to celebrate together. The graduation events at the Centre honoured diaconal ministry of the past and present while looking forward to a transformative future of graduates who are imagining church differently.

LDA Phonathon Nurtures Community Amid Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has paused a lot of life these past 14 months. 

But it did not stop the Lutheran Diaconal Association (LDA) from cultivating community during our biggest fundraising campaign!   

The volunteer caller community for the LDA’s annual Phonathon includes deaconesses and deacons, diaconal students, board members, and supporters from Valparaiso University.

For more than 30 years, the LDA, based in Valparaiso, Indiana, USA, has held an annual Phonathon to raise funds to prepare our deaconess and deacon students, support our consecrated people, and encourage the laity and the whole people of God in ministry. As the pandemic continued into 2021, we again asked our volunteers to phone donors from their homes, rather than from a common space on the Valparaiso University campus. 

Even though the group was not physically present to enjoy a meal, receive training, and celebrate campaign milestones, the callers formed community around a common purpose – to tell donors of the LDA’s continuing care for them; to gather their prayer requests; to share how deaconesses and deacons serve God’s people; and to remind them how vital their financial gifts are to our mission. 

As part of their Phonathon training via Zoom, volunteer callers heard Deaconess Lisa Polito, the LDA’s Executive Director, share ministry stories about our deaconesses, deacons, and students who serve those who are suffering. In a spirit of love and compassion, Lisa sent the caller community forth with the charge, “To the phones!” 

More than 40 callers spoke with hundreds of donors across the United States and Canada over three days this spring. Dozens and dozens of prayer requests were received, and those prayers were lifted up during our online worship. 

The Phonathon was wonderfully successful, and the funds raised will help us to continue forming, sending, and nurturing communities of deaconesses and deacons to serve as Christ's hands and feet in our world. 

To learn more about us, read the LDA Today newsletter.

"Abaja ba Kristo" (Rwanda) news


Dear friends and partners,

We greet you in the name of Jesus Christ, our savior.  We thank God that we can share with you along this way what the current situation of our country in general is and of our Deaconess community "Abaja  ba  Kristo" in particular.

We are very grateful for what God has done in our community. In December 2020, we held elections for a new community leadership team. Since 1 January 2021, this new team is operational; sr. Marie-Louise Niyonsenga is elected as leader of the community, her replacement is sr. Domithille  Uwiragiye. In addition, two secretaries and a treasurer have been appointed; Rev. Vincent Musabyimana  is the pastor of the community.

We are also grateful for the decline of the Covid 19 pandemic in Rwanda, where many initiatives have been taken to contain this pandemic. According to health officials, Rwanda has so far  (May 3)  25,490 corona patients, 337  deaths and  23,442  recovered.

The government has started the vaccinationprogramme,  with the goal of vaccinating 30% of our population by the end of 2021, and 60% by the end of 2022. (The population of Rwanda is 13,151,365).   

Rwanda received vaccines to be used to vaccinate a total of 171,480 people identified as priority at-risk groups, including healthcare personnel - people over the age of 65 or with underlying health problems, other frontline workers and people with disabilities.

In the meantime, quite a few sisters have also been vaccinated.

At the moment, many activities such as schools, public transport and commercial activities are open again and we continue to take measures to counteract the negative impact of Covid  19.

Some churches, which have met the requirements of the government, are accessible to a limited number of visitors, but a large number of churches are still closed. We hope that the Covid 19 situation will increasingly 'wash away'.

Dear friends and partners, we have celebrated The Passover and are allowed to live from the resurrection of Jesus Christ! He has conquered death! On behalf of the community "Abaja ba Kristo" I wish you God's blessing!

Sr. Marie-Louise Niyonsenga,

Community manager 'Abaja  ba  Kristo'

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, He has given us a new birth in a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."

(1 Peter 1:3)

from left to right: zr. Emerthe, secretary; Ds. Vincent Musabyimana, spiritual caregiver; Sr. Donithille, second manager; Sr. Berthe, treasurer; 
Sr. Marie-Louise, first manager; Sr. Esperance, second secretary

Sisters in Rwanda - newsletter May 2021


We are grateful that it is possible to have regular contact with the sisters via social media. They are doing well, so far none of the sisters have become infected with the coronavirus! However, they notice that there is a lot of need in their environment, because people do not have a job and therefore no income. Because donations came in from various sides, they were able to help many people with food.


Unfortunately, all schools in Rwanda went into lockdown, also the primaryschool, which opened last year, the kindergarten and technical school,. There was no question of homeschooling, because most pupils at home do not have a computer and often even no electricity. Fortunately, the schools are now open again and work can be done to make up for the backlog.


When primary school opened in February last year, the sisters said that this building did not contain all the necessary spaces and that expansion was therefore urgently needed. Especially the lack of a kitchen and dining room was a problem. Moreover,  the former orphan village that serves as a kindergarten no longer meets the requirements. In this way, a plan was made for a new building on the site of the orphan village. Much to the delight of the sisters, the funding soon came to an end, so that hopefully construction can start this year!  


The technical school is also back in full operation. Last year, a dorm for girls could be put into use. For the boys this is also urgently needed, they now live in a house that is far too small. 

Since January, Sr. Emilienne is leader of the school. For the time being, she will continue to take care of the children of the orphan village. With great commitment and ingenuity she combines these tasks: when for a boy from the orphan village was bought a cottage, she had the furniture made by students of the technical school, who earned their school fees in this way!


The baby project was also stopped for a while because of the lockdown, but now the mothers can come again, while respecting the rules: face masks and distance. Sr. Marthe is happy to be helping the mothers and their babies again! Especially now that poverty has increased so much, this aid is literally vital for the little ones.


Last year, construction began on site of its own water source for the sister community and buildings on site. That was quite difficult, because the ground turned out to be so hard that a few times the drill gave out. Finally a depth of 7 meters could be reached, where – as it stands – there is enough water to be found.

Now the final phase has yet to be carried out: the construction of 800 meters of pipe from the source to the grounds of the sisters! Once that is done, hopefully enough water will flow to provide the mother house, the guest house and the schools!


Improvements have been made to the irrigation system in the field of the agricultural project, so that harvesting can be carried out more frequently. Church in Action regularly calls attention to this project. On their website there is a lot of information about it; it's worth taking a look at it.

We would like to draw your attention to the website, which is faithfully maintained by volunteer Rachel Pekkeriet. Together we try to keep the site as up-to-date as possible. You can also order postcards made by the sisters via the site.

On behalf of the board of the St. Friends of Sisters in Rwanda, I warmly greet you and wish you God's blessing!

Zr. Dorien Peet

Friday, June 4, 2021

DIAKONIA World Federation Executive and other Committees

 It's been a busy few months for the DIAKONIA World Executive. 

The DIAKONIA World Federation Executive Committee now meets regularly via Zoom instead of once a year face to face. And a number of new committees have been set up in the last few months. 

Upcoming meetings in June include (the two dates indicate that members of the Committees live in many times zones around the world)

DIAKONIA Communications Committee on Friday 4/Saturday 5

Ad hoc meeting of a few of the DIAKONIA Executive Committee to discuss possible timing for the next World Assembly - Monday 7/Tuesday 8

DIAKONIA Justice Committee 22nd June

DIAKONIA Membership Committee Friday 25 June/26 June

DIAKONIA Executive Committee 29 June/30 June

(there may be meetings of other Committees - these are a few)

The DIAKAID Committee has been discussing DIAKAIDS grants that may be available in the future. 

We appreciate your prayers as we continue to give intentional attention to diverse foci, and to be intentionally inclusive of a wider range of people in our member associations. 

UN World Oceans Day - June 8

The Underwater Project, Mark Tipple

                                                (photo: Mark Tipple, The Underwater Project)

Sing a new song, for God has done wonderful things! Sing to God all the earth, sing praise and songs of joy! Let the oceans roar and all the creatures that live within it give praise! (Psalm 98 adapted)

The 2021 theme for World Oceans Day is The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods. The focus is on how the ocean is our life-source and supports humanity and every other organism on Earth. It reminds every one of the major role the oceans have in everyday life. They are the lungs of our planet and a major source of food and medicine and a critical part of the biosphere.

The purpose of the Day is to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world's oceans.

The ocean covers over 70% of the planet. It is our life source, supporting humanity’s sustenance and that of every other organism on earth. The ocean produces at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen, it is home to most of earth’s biodiversity, and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world. Not to mention, the ocean is key to our economy with an estimated 40 million people being employed by ocean-based industries by 2030.

Even though all its benefits, the ocean is now in need of support. With 90% of big fish populations depleted, and 50% of coral reefs destroyed, we are taking more from the ocean than can be replenished. To protect and preserve the ocean and all it sustains, we must create a new balance, rooted in true understanding of the ocean and how humanity relates to it. We must build a connection to the ocean that is inclusive, innovative, and informed by lessons from the past. 2021 also launches a decade of challenges to get the Sustainable Development Goal 14, “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”, by 2030. 

The call extends to all of us to become highly protective of our seas and waterways in order to help ensure a healthy home for all! 

The Pacific region, known also as Oceania, is sometimes referred to as the “Liquid Continent”, acknowledging that the Pacific Ocean, the largest ocean in the world, is not what separates the island communities, often seen on maps as green specks on a large blue background. For Pacific Islanders, the ocean is what connects our islands. It is our highway, where canoes travelled weaving relationship and sharing stories, knowledge, food and gifts and has done for many millennia. It is mother, nurturing, source of life, home to fish and shell and mighty whale. (Rev James Bhagwan, Fiji, reflections for WCC Ecumenical Water Network). We remember our Deaconess sisters and their communities in Fiji as they deal with rising ocean tides. 

Swirling God, who at the dawn of creation swept over the face of the waters, hover over our oceans and all waterways with your blessed presence.
May each droplet of mist and sea be clean and fresh for all life who come in contact with these holy streams.
Bless each cell and molecule of life below the surface of the waters who trust in you and us to create a prosperous world.
Continually nudge us to nurture creation, joining together with humans all over this planet to covenant with one another and celebrate the gifts of water, air, fire, and land that you have given us. Amen.
(Source: Michelle L. Torigian, God goes pop)

Friday, May 14, 2021

DIAKONIA World Executive Committee

The DWF Executive Committee (EC) will be meeting via Zoom on Tuesday 18th/Wednesday 19th May. The EC has met many times via Zoom in the last year during COVID - and in that way COVID has enabled us to be innovative and responsive in ways that were more difficult with an annual meeting. 

The members of the EC are in many different time zones, starting with Fiji at 8am on Wednesday 19th May and Adelaide at 5.30pm, and members in the DRAE (Africa/Europe) region at 9pm and 10pm, and members of DOTAC at 3pm, 2pm, and 1pm (Winnipeg, Boise and Seattle). We have up to 1.5 hours to discuss the agenda items and then schedule another meeting to continue our discussion. 

There is also a great deal of work that happens in between meetings. 

As well, there are now a number of new Committees that have been formed in the last few months. Some more are in the process of being set up, and some will be set up later in the year. Committees already set up include DIAKAID, Donors, Financial, Justice, Member Connections, and Communications. It's tricky scheduling meetings with people in the different regions, but a very worthwhile endeavour. 

Please pray for the DWF Executive Committee and the new Committees that are taking on and developing some of the responsibilities for DIAKONIA World. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Deepening missional relationships

Rev Mat Harry (Deacon in Uniting Church in Australia): 

It is important for #ChristianCommunities to think not just about the number of #missional relationships a church develops, but also to concentrate on the depth of those relationships.

Melton Op Shop has seized upon the opportDeepunity to deepen relationship with those people they are alongside through the installation of a cafe space.  

This cafe space allows the #OpShop volunteers to listen to the stories of the customers, offering care and support if needed.

'Once a Deaconess, always a Deaconess'

 "Once a deaconess, always a deaconess" is a phrase often heard when talking to the women who are graduates of Harris Memorial College in Taytay, Rizal, Philippines. If they move to the United States, their dedication to serve God and their neighbors continues. Just as deaconesses and home missioners consecrated in the United States, they are committed to lifetime ministries of love, justice and service. 

Deaconess Laurel O’Connor Akin wrote this article for United Methodist Women (March 2021): 

Seventeen deaconesses have transferred their relationship to the United Methodist Women Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner in the United States, with at least 33 more in the process of discerning or working on applications. 

The training that deaconesses receive in the Philippines is extensive. All are graduates of Harris Memorial College, supported by United Methodist Women, where they earn a bachelor’s degree in addition to deaconess training. Classes in playing the piano or organ and singing are required, and deaconesses are appointed to local churches or other United Methodist institutions.

Deaconess Ellen Ronas Dizon became the transfer coordinator for the Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner in October 2020, supporting and assisting deaconesses from the Philippines who would like to transfer or reinstate their deaconess relationships in the United States. She graduated with a degree in Christian education and a minor in social work and came to the United States in 1988. 

“My goal was to continue my service when I emigrated to the United States,” she said. “My grandmother and my mother have always inspired me to continue my ministry wherever I go.” 

Dizon contacted Harris Memorial graduates and professors living in the States and began the process of transferring her appointment as a deaconess soon after she arrived. She was recommissioned in 1990, and her work here as a preschool teacher and director led to new opportunities to serve. 

“It gave me the chance to work with new immigrant families who want to preserve their values and culture. I learned to embrace and respect each culture by learning their language and values, and understanding who they are and why they are. I also learned to understand children with various needs,” Dizon said.

“I retired as a preschool teacher and director after 27 years. My retirement has given me more opportunities to serve and the ability to move on to new mission ministries,” she said. “My challenge for myself is to bring awareness and to amplify the voice of the marginalized. No one deserves to be left behind because the Kingdom of God belongs to every being in this world. 

Dizon said God wants her to continue to be active in service. In her role as transfer coordinator she connects with Filipina deaconesses interested in transferring their deaconess relationship to the United States.

“I will serve as their resource and advocate. I will continue to connect, support and do the best I can to bring the love of Jesus to my sister deaconesses, to my extended family at church, the community, and to the Philippines. Our brothers and sisters in all parts of the world must experience the Kingdom of God,” she said.          

Congratulations to newest Deaconesses - 3 May 2021

A video montage of the newest deaconesses welcomed to the Order of Deaconess and Home Missioner (United Methodist Church, USA) on May 3!  

Monday, May 3, 2021

India and COVID-19 grim statistics

Background: India has recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic yet with 3,689 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, as the country’s caseload surged to 19.5 million with 392,488 fresh infections according to government data. This is the fourth straight day India has recorded over 3,000 deaths as the second wave of the pandemic carries on unabated and keeps setting grim new records, data showed on Sunday.

Altogether, 215,542 people have died from Covid-19. India became the first country to cross 400,000 daily cases on Saturday. It recorded 6.6 million infections and 45,000 deaths in April, compared to the little over 1.2 million cases and 5,417 deaths in March. Health care systems are overwhelmed, and a shortage of medical oxygen has emerged as the most serious challenge.

Arundhati Roy has called the situation 'a crime against humanity'. 

Thirty-four patients died for alleged want of oxygen in hospitals in the national capital, New Delhi, and the states of Andhra Pradesh and Haryana on Saturday, the Times of India reported. Thirty-one more with Covid-19-like symptoms and “breathing difficulties” died in a hospital in Uttar Pradesh state, the report cited authorities as saying. The Delhi High Court has warned that it will start punishing officials if life-saving supplies of oxygen and medical supplies don’t make it to hospitals.

Indian Railways has converted 4,000 railway carriages into “isolation coaches” with 64,000 beds. As many as 213 coaches had been handed to various states for Covid-19 care.

While the worst-affected cities and states like New Delhi and Mahrashtra are in prolonged lockdowns, states like Odisha and Haryana also announced new lockdowns to halt the spread of infections in rural areas.

India’s Covid-19 taskforce has pushed hard for a nationwide lockdown to help subdue the second wave, the Indian Express reported. Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said all efforts should be made be avoid a lockdown.

The federal government fears another lockdown will have a devastating impact on the economy. The lockdown imposed last year after the first COVID-19 outbreak led to job losses as economic output fell a record 24% in April-June 2020 compared with the same period a year earlier.

Modi’s government has been criticised for letting millions of largely unmasked people attend religious festivals and crowded political rallies in five states through March and April. Daily cases in these states have spiked since then. (Source: Indaily, 3rd May 2021)

Modi's Covid-19 taskforce didn’t meet for months. The Minister for Health assured the public in March that India had reached the pandemic’s “endgame”. A few weeks before that, Modi had told global leaders that his nation had triumphed over coronavirus. India “saved humanity from a big disaster by containing corona effectively”, Modi told a virtual gathering at the World Economic Forum in late January. Now, a second wave has made India the worst-hit country in the world. Only 1.6% of its 1.3 billion population has been vaccinated. “Fake news" continues to discourage many from taking the proper precautions against the continuing spread of the virus. The decision to lower restrictions and allow large-scale political rallies and religious celebrations to continue has proved disastrous as an apparently new Covid-19 variant burned across the country.

New infections have reached about 400,000 a day. Actual cases are expected to be much higher than official figures report. Vaccines are running short. Hospitals are swamped. Lifesaving oxygen is running out. Each day, cremation grounds burn thousands of bodies, sending up never-ending plumes of ash that are turning the skies grey over some of India’s biggest cities.

The virus is cutting across all castes and income groups. No one feels safe from it, and many are falling for scam cures and preventatives being peddled to the unwary by the unscrupulous. 

The continued neglect of the healthcare system has led to its complete collapse under the crushing weight of the pandemic. Poor communities, once again, bear the brunt. Living in crammed areas without sanitation and using shared toilets and water points, they have no means to follow COVID-19 guidelines. In addition, migrant workers employed in the informal sector are once again facing uncertainties. Sporadic lockdowns and curfews have already triggered another exodus of migrant workers, putting them at the risk of not just contracting COVID-19 but also prolonged months without jobs or money.

Please pray

“If we only knew what happened when we pray, we would never cease to pray!” (Louie Giglio)

Sovereign God, your breath that we share, whether in India or the United States of America, unites us. The suffering inflicted on us by COVID-19 also brings us together. We pray for our siblings in India who are overcome by waves of grief, uncertainty and fear. We pray that they may again breathe in your life, peace and presence in this unnerving season.

Merciful God, we lament with your people in India left without time and space to bury their dead and grieve their losses. We join them in hope and confidence that they – in this, their valley of the shadow of death – will find your presence closer and clearer.

Divine Healer, heal our numbness and bring us together that we your people on different continents receive and mediate your grace through our words, deeds and largess.

Spirit of God, you join us in seasons of joy, dancing life and in the seasons of grief, challenging death. You join us in moments when our wounds, emotional and physical, are too deep for words, groaning with us. We join you and our siblings in India that we together with them recognize and proclaim the new life, abundance and peace you have willed for us all.  Amen.

(Source: James Taneti,  director of the Syngman Rhee Global Mission Center for Christian Education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia)

God of redemption, for all who this day are walking in fear - bring your peace. For all who this day are facing an uncertain future - bring your hope. For all who this day are grieving losses and heartbreaks - bring your comfort. For all who this day are angry or hurt or broken or lost - bring your very presence to surround them and bear them up. 

(Source: Andrew Gunton, Moderator, Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod)

Please uphold in prayer our DIAKONIA member associations in India:

* CSI Order of Women in the Church of South India, Women’s House (Karnataka)

                Sister Anna John,

*TELC Bethania Deaconess Home (Andhra Pradesh)

                Deaconess Mother Grace Padma,

The Methodist Church in India, Deaconesses Order 

                We do not have a current contact for the Deaconess Order, 

                 but the Chairman/President is Bishop N L Karkare,

You might make contact with words of encouragement, commitment to ongoing prayers for India etc. You might also use the DIAKONIA World Federation Facebook page to communicate. 

You might also explore practical ways to help including: 

Oxfam, Milaap, Hemkunt Foundation (specifically oxygen cylinders) etc, and also check out your denominational and ecumenical agencies, and NGO's, which might have options for much needed practical support.