Month: April 2017

GODPARENTS’ SUNDAY

It’s Godparents’ Sunday tomorrow.  Preparation for baptism has always been one of the deacon’s ministries, and I’m wondering how many deacons are involved in the celebrations tomorrow, and what role you will play?  Do let me know, using the comments section, or the contact sheet on the ‘About’ page.

https://churchofenglandchristenings.org/godparents-sunday/

A prayer for godparents:

Loving God,
You call us into relationship with you and with one another.
You give us friends and family to be with us on life’s journey.
We thank you for godparents who pray for us,
listen to us, help us make good choices, and show us
more about Jesus.
Bless them on their journey of faith, and encourage them
in their prayers for the children of every age they
promised to support.
In Jesus name,
Amen.

 

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DIACONAL FUN: CONNECTING CHURCH AND COMMUNITY

Deacon Rita Bullworthy is Distinctive Deacon for the North Tawton group of churches, Whiddon Mission Community in the Diocese of Exeter.

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She is developing creative ways of linking church and community  through putting on musicals that bring everyone together and enable the gifts of others.  She says:

‘Our productions of Oliver! and Mamma Mia!  have brought together our local and church communities.  It is also a great way of getting people into church! Previous productions have seen hundreds of people coming through the doors of St. Peter’s church, North Tawton.

People have discovered hidden gifts, whether on stage or backstage. In addition, lasting friendships have been made.

These musicals offer the opportunity to convey stories full of the problems still relevant to our world today – poverty, abuse, human trafficking, loneliness, trust and love. In fact, we based a Lent course on these topics under the heading of Oliver’s song, ‘Where is Love’. Nearly all of us can identify with the spirit of that song – yearning for love and acceptance, of belonging to someone, and to community – thirsting for God.

St Peter’s was transformed into a theatre for these productions and involved  over 100 adults and children. It was a wonderful opportunity for spreading the good news of the Gospel and God’s love.’

Revd Rita Bullworthy

Distinctive Deacon for the North Tawton group of churches

Whiddon Mission Community

 

A DEACON IN GREECE

7 May, this coming Sunday, is Vocations Sunday and this blog of course celebrates vocations to the distinctive diaconate.  It was great to read Gerrie’s story and I’m delighted to post the vocation journey of Deacon Chris Saccali, assistant curate in the Greater Athens Chaplaincy in Greece.  Oh yes, there are distinctive deacons in the Anglican Diocese in Europe too – the Holy Spirit gets around!

Chris at her ordination last July

My journey towards ordination

Reverend Deacon Christine Saccali, Assistant Curate Athens

I was licensed as a Reader in Belgrade in 2007 and since then I enjoyed a rich and diverse Reader ministry in Athens and beyond. Friends and colleagues used to ask me about ordination with one clergy friend stating: “you will know if God is calling you to ordained ministry.”

I had certainly felt a “holy prod or niggle” before being selected for Reader training but I  could not discern the same feeling at that time. But in 2012 events in Athens, and the continuing economic and humanitarian crisis in Greece, forced me to take another look at the direction in which God was calling me. In hindsight, I think this sense of calling to ordained ministry had been growing within me for a while, but I had only confided in one soul friend, so my incumbent was quite surprised when all these feelings poured out of me one day. After some discussion with the Diocesan Director of Ordinands, it was agreed that this vocation needed to be tested. I felt I had raised my head above the parapet and could not duck down again or avoid my call. However, I trusted that if this was a true calling, through the grace of the Holy Spirit I would take each step one at a time.

Firstly, I needed to understand where God was calling me; after prayer and reflection a moving and affirming answer came at the Diocesan Vocations Enquirers’ Conference I attended in London, when I heard a Deacon speak about her own vocation. That conviction of a diaconal calling has remained with me throughout my training towards ordination, which has been a steep learning curve. I have had to deal with the “three Ts” as I call them – Travel, Technology and Theology –  plus a fourth – the Tiredness factor. Studying alongside others in the UK, which I left over thirty-five years ago, has been a privilege and gift on this journey with God. I was able to take part in two placements: one in a hospice in Northern England, and the other in a parish in the south, which were both invaluable experiences and ones of deep hospitality.

Visitors, diocesan colleagues, friends and family came to St Paul’s Athens on 3rd July from all over Europe to celebrate the wonderful and joyous occasion of my ordination to the Distinctive Diaconate, a fulfilling and humbling ministry which I embrace. Since then, I have slipped into the role and title of Deacon Chris through God’s grace. I concentrated very much on the parish and my liturgical role in the first few months, but I soon discovered that there is no end to learning and formation.

During all this time there have been further changes in the political instability in Greece, Europe and the Middle East. The humanitarian and economic crises have been deepened and complicated by the refugee crisis, a challenge to which the Anglican Church here has directly responded. We had been praying for someone locally to come forward for a part-time position as Refugee Response Facilitator for the Anglican Church in Greece sponsored by USPG, and to my surprise I was suggested for the post.

I needed time to think and pray about it, not least because my husband is an atheist and it would mean more household duties for him!  We went away for a week to talk it over, but he has always been supportive of my ministry otherwise I could not exercise it, and I am so grateful for that.  My Director of Training and both Bishops were in favour of this innovation to my diaconal role. It means a lot of juggling for us, and the ongoing learning is challenging, but I am enjoying my new diverse ministry in Greece and thank God for all his grace and guidance.

NEW DEACON EN ROUTE

Great news of another deacon joining our ranks soon – the first in her diocese!  Welcome Gerrie Sturgeon.  Her parish mag article says:

Gerrie

A New Distinctive Deacon in the Parish

Distinctive Deacons have been around in the Church of England for about 50 years but they are still very thin on the ground. Sheffield Diocese, like many others, has not had a Distinctive Deacon anywhere in the Diocese but the first one, Gerrie Sturgeon, will be Ordained in Sheffield Cathedral on July 2nd and will then be licensed to work in the Parish of Abbeydale and Millhouses for four years.  The Deacon’s ministry is described as being a bridge between the community and the church, bringing the needs of the community to the church and the love of God to the community. It is quite definitely a community based ministry.

Gerrie writes:

I have been a Lay Reader in the Parish of Abbeydale and Millhouses for the last 3 years and have loved my life in the church, helping to lead services and preaching, visiting older members of the congregation who can no longer get to church and being involved in the weekly prayer group. But it seemed to me that God wanted me to do more, in particular I felt a call to be a visible presence of Christ and his church in the community. So after a lengthy selection process and a year’s training at St Hild College Mirfield I am ready to step out and answer that call.

So how does serving people outside as well as inside the church family look for me? I have a heart for working with the elderly and those suffering with Dementia. I have first-hand experience of caring for someone with Alzheimers Disease and I am passionate about putting those experiences and that knowledge to work for the benefit of other people. In the weeks and months ahead I will be working with others in the church to see how we can best support Dementia sufferers and their carers. But as anyone who has cared for someone with Dementia will know, every case is different and I need to know from you how you think I and the church might really help you. I also know how lonely old age can be, particularly if family has moved away and you live on your own. We want to serve you too.

God has also laid on my heart a real concern for issues of poverty and injustice. This is likely to mean that some of my working hours will be spent outside the parish. It is in any case a large parish geographically so you might not see me in the shops and cafes every day but if you do please come up and speak to me, or leave a note for me at the back of church if you would like to meet up for a chat.

I am your Deacon and I would love to get to know you.

RESURRECTION HOPE IN SOUTH SUDAN

Where despair prevails, South Sudan churches issue Easter hope message

Posted on: April 20, 2017 2:58 PM

Christians in procession on Easter Sunday 2017, in Pawel, a village in South Sudan’s Jonglei State
Photo Credit: Paul Jeffrey/ACT
Related Categories: Sudan

[World Council of Churches] For most of the world’s newest nation, racked by internal conflict, joy seems far away, and yet for Christians, Easter is still a time of hope. A recent message from the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) says the Resurrection reminds us that even in this world there is “goodness and light with triumph”.

In an “Easter message of hope for the people of South Sudan – 2017” the Council of Churches reminded the South Sudan people that “at this time of year we recall that Christ Jesus too suffered.”

“As a baby he was displaced from his country and had to flee as a refugee to a neighbouring country with Mary and Joseph (Matthew 2:13-15).”

The Easter message was signed by the chair of the SSCC, Rev. Peter Gai Lual Marrow of the Presbyterian Church of Sudan and the council’s general secretary, Father James Oyet-Latansio, a Roman Catholic.

Meanwhile, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is accompanying the SSCC and the All Africa Conference of Churches at a meeting on overcoming hunger and sustaining justice and peace in the Horn of Africa, taking place in Nairobi on 14-17 May with church leaders from East Africa. Although the situation is the most dire in South Sudan and Somalia, other countries in the region are also suffering from food crisis as a result of both man-made and natural calamities, and the WCC’s programme executive for advocacy in Africa Dr Nigussu Legesse will attend.

The WCC is also inviting member churches and partners for a global day of prayer on 21 May.

When South Sudan became independent on 9 July 2011, after decades of brutal war with Khartoum government forces in Sudan, the world was filled with optimism, since the churches had played a key role in helping broker the process. But civil conflict began in 2013 and has since continually worsened.

“Killing, looting, raping, arbitrary detention, torture, tribalism, terror, fear, anxiety, hate speech and lies, displacement, hunger, poverty, famine, corruption, and economic collapse continue in our young nation, seemingly unabated. These things are evil and we cannot pretend that they do not exist,” say the church leaders.

In South Sudan there are an estimated 5.5 million people currently severely food insecure and at least 7.5 million people across the country – almost two thirds of the population – need humanitarian assistance.

The SSCC’s message recalls how Jesus lived as “a humble manual worker under an oppressive regime, was falsely accused by corrupt power-seeking leaders, was unjustly arrested and imprisoned, and finally was tortured to death for his opposition to the behaviour of those in power. Many South Sudanese have suffered the same fate.”

“The Resurrection he offers us is certainly connected with the Eternal Life promised to us, but it is not only something for the future… The Resurrection reminds us that even in this world, evil and death will not continue for ever; goodness and light will triumph.”

DEACONS’ RETREAT DAY


10 JUNE 2017

DEACONS’ RETREAT DAY

A quiet day for distinctive deacons and diaconal enquirers

Deacons are busy people and it’s important to make time to think and pray, and talk with other deacons. Join us in the beautiful surroundings of Mill House for a quiet morning with Revs Michael and Sharon Simpson, who have a background in retreats and spiritual direction.

The afternoon is deacon-dedicated, to share news and pray together.

Cost: £20 for those not part of Exeter College of Deacons, including morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea. Please book in advance with Mill House by 3 June  http://millhouseretreats.co.uk/

For more details contact Deacon Gill Kimber deacons@tutanota.com

RECHARGE YOUR

SPIRITUAL BATTERIES!

A Quiet Day for Busy Deacons

10 JUNE 2017

10AM – 3.30PM

with REVS MICHAEL AND SHARON SIMPSON

Retreat guides

AT MILL HOUSE RETREATS

EX16 7ES

http://millhouseretreats.co.uk/


AN EASTER MADRIGAL

By Deacon Jen Swinbank

Upon this Easter morning

A brighter day is dawning

Fa-la-la-la, alleluia, fa-la-la, alleluia.

The grave stands wide and open

The bonds of death are broken

Fa-la-la-la, alleluia, fa-la-la, alleluia.

For Christ from out the tomb

Stands in the Upper Room

Fa-la -la-la-la, Fa-la-la-la-la, alleluia.

When Mary sees her Master

Our sorrow turns to laughter

Fa-la-la-la, alleluia, fa-la-la, alleluia.

So when she turns to greet Him

We go with her to meet Him

Fa-la-la-la, alleluia, fa-la-la, alleluia.

She sees her Risen Lord

The sign of joy outpoured.

Fa-la -la-la-la, Fa-la-la-la-la, alleluia.

Disciples walk in sadness

Their road is turned to gladness

Fa-la-la-la, alleluia, fa-la-la, alleluia.

He joins them at the table

His rising is no fable

Fa-la-la-la, alleluia, fa-la-la, alleluia.

They see Him break the bread

And know He is not dead

Fa-la -la-la-la, Fa-la-la-la-la, alleluia.

All Hea-ven joins our voices

The Church with us rejoices

Fa-la-la-la, alleluia, fa-la-la, alleluia.

So join our celebration

In songs of jubilation

Fa-la-la-la, alleluia, fa-la-la, alleluia.

Christ lives for us today

Is here with us to stay

Fa-la -la-la-la, Fa-la-la-la-la, alleluia.

JS 2007
Tune: Now is the Month of Maying

EXULTET

A reminder of our long history as deacons in the Church of Christ, and the spiritual heritage of which we are a part.  It is our duty and our joy to lead the church into Easter praise.

Deacon Singing the Exultet from Exultet Roll
In this scene he gestures toward the Paschal Candle,
which is being incensed
Italian (Montecassino), ca. 1072

 

Deacon Matthew Stehling

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Texas