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Potential Deaconesses Gather in New York for Discernment Event

By Mary Beth Coudal

Despite airline delays, 17 out of 18 potential deaconesses attended the New York City Discernment Event from April 11 to 13, 2008, sponsored by the General Board of Global Ministries. In Christian lingo, "to discern" means to listen to God's call or spiritual direction.

A diverse group of women in age, race, profession, and hometowns shared Bible studies and faith stories during their days of discerning at the Alma Mathews House, a brownstone in Greenwich Village owned by The Women's Division. Among the spiritual seekers at this month's event were a church worker, lawyer, teacher, nurse, and community developer.

"A common statement heard from those discerning is: 'If only I had known about this earlier. It is what I have been feeling and living out without knowing how to connect with the church,'" said Becky Dodson Louter, a deaconess serving with Global Ministries' Deaconess and Home Missioner Program office.

Sharing Stories

Haniel L. Garibay, a home missioner from the Philippines, led the group in Bible study and shared his story. Mr. Garibay became a home missioner in March 2008 at the commissioning of new missionaries, deaconesses, and home missioners. (See the related story, New Deaconesses and Home Missioners Commissioned by United Methodist Agency )

Rachel Harvey, mission specialist at The Advance, also shared her story at the April event: "I am in the process of becoming a deaconess because I don't feel called to be silent about issues of inclusion and social justice as a layperson in our church. It was after my Dad took us 'out to eat' one Sunday after church that I learned what it means to 'be the church.' Stomping out of our local soup kitchen, I asked my Dad why he'd lied and said we were going out. 'We're not eating out until each of these people can eat out if they choose.' On that Sunday I learned what it means to 'be the church': we are a people who always seek to extend the table...and the deaconess and home missioner community are a people willing to take risks to extend the table for and to all people."

About the Program

Deaconesses are women and home missioners are men. They form a covenant community of laypersons called by God and commissioned by The United Methodist Church to work full-time for justice, love, and service. Often persons who become deaconesses and home missioners are already working in the places in which they will serve.

About 350 active and retired people are home missioners, home missionaries, and deaconesses through The United Methodist Church. The movement is part of more than 10 other denominations, including Lutherans, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians, all members of the Diakonia World Federation.

"Many are looking for just this opportunity [to become a deaconess or home missioner]," said Ms. Darlene DiDomineck, a deaconess with the Deaconess and Home Missioners' office. To learn more about this program, receive an application, or inquire about becoming a deaconess or home missioner, visit: office's home page in the Mission Personnel unit's section of Global Ministries' website at connectingthechurchinmission.org

Date posted: May 30, 2008

Last Updated: 02/04/2013

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