The Purpose of the Diaconate
To be a strong strand, of a three strand ministry in the Methodist Church, and Co-operating and Union Ventures in New Zealand.
To continue to develop and clarify Ordained Diaconal Ministry that is complementary and parallel to Lay and Presbyteral Ministry.
Deacon: 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 Hāhi 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)
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)
Training for a Deacon will include biblical and theological studies, and such other studies as will prepare them for their particular serving ministry.(MCNZ Laws & Regulations Section 2:4.7(b))
You can find out more at the Deacons in Aotearoa New Zealand website.
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.
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.