Profile of a Deaconess: Amanda Mountain
Amanda Mountain was one of 12 deaconesses and one home missioner commissioned at the Women’s Division Assembly in 2010. Ms. Mountain is looking forward to standing with the 15 deaconess and 2 home missioners who will be commissioned during the 2012 General Conference on April 29, 2012.
“Deaconesses have always been on the forefront of mutuality in ministry with the poor,” Ms. Mountain said. She gave the example of the deaconesses who worked for social reform in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by founding settlement houses. The settlement homes were communities to welcome and help new immigrants as they arrived into US cities. The deaconesses did not simply visit this new working poor class, but they, too, lived in impoverishment.
Today, in a culture that worships affluence, people may be surprised that modern-day men and women chose to live and work in a diaconal community in cutting edge ministries, often in impoverished communities. Amanda laughed, “I used to be a ballerina and now I’m a deaconess, so my parents know I’ll never make any money.”
Deaconesses and home missioners annually review their ministry to be sure their placement sites continue to serve those who are marginalized.
At this year’s review, Amanda found herself questioning whether her work with the office of The Advance helping to promoting the work of young adult missionaries and creating resources to educate on hunger and mission giving qualified as a cutting-edge ministries. She ultimately decided her work, teaching and supporting young adult missionaries qualified as innovative and cutting edge. Like home missioners and deaconesses, she works full-time for justice, love, and service.
She finds the work with young adult missionaries, US-2s and Mission Interns, inspiring. From the time the young adults apply until they are commissioned, Ms. Mountain is their advocate and witness to their own personal growth and her own.
“The great thing about teaching is that you learn at the same time as the young people,” Ms. Mountain said.
Deaconesses are women and home missioners are men who form a covenant community of laypersons called by God and commissioned by The United Methodist Church. Often persons who become deaconesses and home missioners are already working in the places wherein they will serve.
The community of support is called the “beloved community,” by Becky Dodson Louter, a deaconess serving with the Deaconess and Home Missioner Program. Ms. Louter emphasizes that all of the work done by deaconesses and home missioners is within the social principles and doctrines of The United Methodist Church. “We can be on opposite poles, politically, but we can be in community,” Ms. Louter said.
While the community is diverse in race, profession, and hometowns, the majority of deaconesses and home missioners are older than Ms. Mountain who is 33. “It’s like having 200 grandmas,” Ms. Mountain said.
Mary Beth Coudal is a writer for United Methodist Women.