The Purpose of the Diaconate
To be a strong strand,
of a three strand
ministry in the
and Union Ventures
in New Zealand.
To continue to
Ministry that is
Lay and Presbyteral
Deacon - is one who is ordained by the Methodist Church to a ministry shaped by the community whom they are appointed to serve. (Methodist Church of New Zealand, Te Haahi Weteriana O Aotearoa, Laws and Regulations Section 2, Ministry, 2.2)
This can be full or part-time ministry, and either fully, partially or non-stipended.(MCNZ Laws & Regulations Section 2:3.1)
Training for a Deacon will include biblical and theological studies, and such other studies as will prepare them for their particular serving ministry.(NZMC Section 2:4.7(b))
The Deacons: The Holy Stirrers, dancing on the edge of the Church, facing outwards, building bridges, taking church to the community, to people who don't usually encounter it, and taking the community to the church, encouraging the baptized to carry out their ministry.
D - dedicated ministry role (Acts 6:2-4)
E - evangelism through service (Acts 6:6-7)
A - anchored in the faith (1 Tim 3:9)
C - Christ-Like (John 13:14)
O - Obedient to the Holy Spirit - (Acts 8:26)
N - noted for integrity (1 Tim 3:8-13)
S - sensitive in service (Acts 8:30)
Back to the Future
What does 'back to the future' mean? A journey in which time is spent getting to know the history, reflecting on what the history means in the 'now' and exploring what the future might look like. As Deacons in the Methodist Church we have been on that journey for probably the whole of the life of the 'new Diaconate' since around 1976. Twenty-six years have passed and almost a rotation has happened. Close in, caught up in the every day work of the ministry of a Deacon, outside the Church and facing the community, most would not have even noticed the rotation except when looking at the questions of Conference, and noticing the gaps of no Deacons accepted for training, no Deacons in Training, no Deacons to be made probationers, no deacons to be ordained this year.
Like the sea, the Diaconate ebbs and flows. Capturing this has been part of the research entered into in order to know our history. One example is that most attention is shown for Diaconal Ministry when time is taken to be in the Church and talk about this ministry. Each time there has been a 'Warden', Chaplain or Fieldworker with responsibility for the diaconate, numbers have increased, when there are none of these roles available, numbers have decreased. Another example. When asked a question in a survey "Who influenced you to become a Deacon"? both Deacons, Deaconesses and Diaconal Ministers from New Zealand and around the world clearly noted other Deacons as their point of interest and contact. So what does this all mean? Follow our journey as we share our reflections from the Gospel beginnings of diakonia and in the Methodist Church over the last 100 years in Aotearoa, and as we find out about the renewal and development of Diaconal Ministry here and overseas. - Editor
Sister Rona Collins
When the family next door took her along to the Methodist Sunday School in Cuba Street, Palmerston North, this was, for Rona Collins, the start of her life's work. The Church families, the ministers, the Bible Class leaders, the missionaries on deputation made a big impression, and, quite early, she felt a missionary call.
Her mission field was to be urban Christchurch where, from 1946 when she entered Deaconess House till 1985, she was known and loved for her work among young people and their families.
As a Deaconess, she was appointed to the Children's Home at Papanui where she became Assistant matron and Social Worker. In her work with children, she was more than ever concerned for the needs of the whole family. Taking responsibility for Family Support Services Sister Rona moved to a house where she always had living with her a family of young people needing a base. She cared for them, ran a social work agency, helped with Sunday School, Bible Class and Woman's Fellowship at Papanui and responded to many calls as a leader and speaker. For three years, she was President of the Deaconess Association and, in 1980-81, Vice-President of the Methodist Church of New Zealand. Her concern for the position of women in the parishes led her to involvement with the Community of Women and Men in Church and Society and to collating a survey on the needs of minister's partners.
In 1983, Sister Rona addressed the area meeting of the World Federation of Methodist Women in Melbourne. When she retired from Deaconess work, it was not to give up, but to serve as Supply in the Manawatu, living at Marton. Her prolific letter writing has kept her in touch with many people. Her message whenever she preaches is about the grace of God. "What else is there for me to preach about?' she asks.
From the Editor:
Last time I spoke to Sister Rona (June 2002) she was busy helping the old folk in Christchurch and was telling stories at Convocation.
A Parishioner's Story - By Francis Lee
People of all ages loved Sister Rona. One of our Sunday School children said " Sister Rona could stay for a hundred years".
Have you heard this story Sister Rona arranged for Moses (Sam Su) to strike a rock in the desert and water gushed out. We saw it and heard it.
One social evening at Wesley Methodist Church, we had a mock wedding. Ima Pain married Eza Drip. Sister Rona was the bridegroom, Sam Su was the bride, and Basil Hilder with his hairy chest was the bridesmaid. What fun it was.
DEACON'S PROFILE: BRENDA FAWKNER
In 1981 after returning from a stint of missionary work in Tonga with my husband John and family, (John was employed as a Principal of an agricultural college on the Island of 'Eua in Tonga), I found the experience had changed my life. It proved to be a watershed experience which led to a deepening experience in my spiritual journey. I became a lay pastor in our local congregation of St Luke's Church in New Plymouth. A few years later an ecumenical chaplaincy team was developed at the base hospital in New Plymouth and I became one of the first lay chaplains. As a member of that team I received very valuable training and experience. I did general visiting and later visited the psychiatric ward, where I also worked with the patients with art work, encouraging their creativity with pottery, mural drawing and painting. The mural 'The Seven Days of Creation', is on permanent display in the hospital chapel foyer.
It was during this period I heard of the Diaconate and candidated. The years of training in the Home Setting Programme were very exciting and stimulating, discovering the wider church and meeting with others in the programme. Probably the highlight of my training was the three months that I spent at Porirua Hospital doing a clinical pastoral education course. I stayed three months in the old nurses home, a reminder of my student teacher days. I was ordained in 1991 at Wanganui.
In 1995 after serving as a supply chaplain for three months at the hospital I was appointed ecumenical chaplain of a Tainui Village Rest Home. It is a charitable trust run by a board formed of members of the Methodist and Anglican Churches. Over 30 years since its conception it has grown to include 58 beds, 66 residents living in chalet and villas on three different sites, a day care programme which involves 60 elderly people each week and has about 60 staff. The ministry that I do includes each of these groups of people and I spend 20 hours a week at the village. I am involved in general pastoral care, including support of the staff, giving spiritual direction (after training with Spiritual Growth Ministries), taking services, including funeral services and room blessings and involving myself in the general activities of the home. Each year we have a pantomime. I paint scenery and sometimes help with the script. This year I was 'Santa' who had lost his Christmas spirit. I am also a member of the Village choir; we give concerts three times a year.
I am fortunate to have three of my four children and their families living in New Plymouth,; my grandma duties plus my oil painting and gardening, swimming and walking fill my days very happily.
I am involved in our local church taking team services from time to time. I have been a member of the Diaconate Task Group about three years and have taken on the role of Convenor of the Diaconate Task Group.
THE NEW DIACONATE TASK GROUP
In 1990 the "Deacon Task Group" was set up to be available for consultation on matters concerning the Diaconate. The original membership was June Higham (Convenor), Valma Hallam, Diane Hight, Margaret Hames, Kay Wicks and Shirley-Joy Barrow. These Deacons involved themselves in 1990 the "Deacon Task Group" was set up to be available for consultation on matters concerning the Diaconate.
Over the next twelve years, June Higham retired, Margaret Hames (now Birtles) moved to the South Island and left the Task Group. Edna Webster (now Evans) came onto the Task Group, as did Richard Williams from Auckland, and Brenda Fawkner from New Plymouth.. Valma Hallam became Convenor in 19 and resigned in 2002. At the end of 2002 it was felt that the Task Group needed to represent more of New Zealand than the Waikato/Bay of Plenty and Auckland Synods.
The Diaconate Task Group, (noting the new name) has five Deacons, Rachel Tregurtha (Rangiora), Raewyn Cubin (Wellington), Convenor Brenda Fawkner (New Plymouth), Edna Evans (Tauranga), Richard Williams (Auckland) and the Deacon for Diaconal Development Shirley-Joy Barrow (Gisborne); Lay person John Thornley, and Presbyter, Sylvia Akau'ola Tongotongo and a Tauiwi Youth person , Rebecca Va'ai.
In 2002 when the Conference re-affirmed Diaconal Ministry...
The Diaconate Task Group made a decision to work with a process of having two Retreats during the year. We gathered at the home of Edna and George Evans, in Tauranga, from 6th-9th of February 2003 and had invited people in presbyteral and lay ministry to discuss issues around recruitment, candidature, training, Probation, Ordination, Ministry and retirement of Deacons.
As a group of twelve we worked our way through the seven areas in the life of a Deacon looking at the history, the present situation and how it might be different if Diaconal Ministry was parallel and complimentary to lay ministry and presbyteral ministry. At times we worked in groups which included diaconal, lay and presbyteral ministers.
Outcomes were recorded and decisions were made as to how these outcomes would be dealt with between this Retreat, bringing information to August Synods, and the next one which will be held in Rangiora, in the South Island. This Retreat will be held after Convocation on the 29-31st August 2003. This will be our final preparation of the material for Conference. in the Methodist Church, Te Hahi Weteriana O Aotearoa.
2003 Is a Special Year for Diaconal Ministry
Diaconal Ministry began for Methodism, in New Zealand, in 1893. George I. Laurenson, in his book "Te Hahi Weteriana" wrote, "The need for some special religious and social ministry to Maori womenfolk and children especially, was frequentely discussed among the workers, but it was not until 1893 that the concern reached a more definite stage with the passing of this resolution at Conference: 'That it is desirable to inaugurate a Mission of English–speaking women to Maori women, and that further consideration of the subject be remitted to the Home Mission Executive Committee with the power to act during the year if deemed practicable.' Some time elapsed before the practical steps could be taken, but eventually this led to the establishment of the Methodist Deaconess Order with its special field of Maori work." Does this mean we have 110 years of Diaconal Ministry?
NEXT INTERESTING ISSUE
A SPECIAL EDITION OF DIACONAL MINISTRY STORIES
To commemorate 110 years of Diaconal Ministry in the Methodist Church of New Zealand - contributions to The Editor
Dcn Shirley-Joy Barrow, P.O. Box 553, Gisborne or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like "Diaconal Doings" sent to you, please send $20 to cover printing and postage to:
Deacon Edna Evans, C/- Box 2019 Tauranga
Editor: Dcn Shirley-Joy Barrow
P.O. Box 553, Gisborne
Click here for Shirley-Joy Barrow's essay on the cycle of Diaconal Ministry in MCNZ