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)