News Archives

Event strengthens global connection for participants

3/11/2003 News media contact: Linda Green · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn

NOTE: This report may be used as a sidebar to UMNS story #132.

By Pamela Crosby*

DALLAS (UMNS) - Seventeen people from outside the United States came together at a four-day gathering to express their commitment to forming leaders for the United Methodist Church.

From countries such as Mozambique and Mexico, the international participants at the Feb. 27-March 2 Convocation for Deacons and Diaconal Ministers said the meeting connected them to the global church. They felt less isolated and were receptive to being wherever the church needs them in ministry, they said.

They also said their annual conferences need to be educated about the new Order of Deacons and that training should be offered for the varieties of service available through the ministry of the deacon and the diaconate.

About 400 people attended the convocation, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry's Section of Deacons and Diaconal Ministries, with offices in Nashville, Tenn. The deacons and diaconal ministers affirmed the board's commitment to forming faithful leaders for the church and the world.

Liv Berit Carlson, a deacon from Norway appointed to the bishop in the Nordic and Baltic areas, said such meetings helped her reflect on her call and her future. The workshops and plenary sessions helped her decide how to work effectively for the diaconate and how to inform annual conferences that they need deacons. In her work, she will concentrate on opening "the eyes and minds of conferences and seminaries in the Nordic and Baltic areas to welcome and receive blessings from the deacons and diaconal candidates."

Edwin Clark, communications director for the Liberian Annual Conference, is considering the deacon track. For Clark, who also works with the church's "Hope for the Children of Africa" appeal, the convocation transformed his way of thinking about the varieties of ministries available to deacons and diaconal ministers. In Liberia, once an individual is ordained, he or she is expected to preach, he said. "Some people are afraid to go into the area of ministry because they can't preach."

Church members and church workers alike still do not realize the possibilities of service available to them, participants said. Besides realizing the abundant opportunities for service in professional ministry, they said the convocation also helped them understand that in accepting servant ministry they are transformed, authorized by God and supported by the church.

"For me, the transformation is: I am Edwin Clark, missioner of hope; I have worked with the Liberian Annual Conference for so many years," Clark said. "Now I need to transform to be a deacon. Let other people see me now as a deacon, working in the specialized area as a deacon, instead of the area of preaching."

Other international participants included Fiolmena Balingoay, Philippines; Lucia Leiga de Oliveira, Brazil; Gunvor Englund, Sweden; Noemi Equila, Philippines; Joseph Hatungimana, Burundi and Kenya; Vincia Celestine, Guyana; Maie Ilumets, Estonia; Amelia Macietla, Mozambique; Jean Claude Masuka Maleka, Congo; Gita Mednis, Latvia; Leonardo Roldan, Philippines; Torhild Ruud, Norway; Oseias Barbosa da Silva, Brazil; Dania Soriano, Philippines; and Violetta Talandis, Lithuania.

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*Crosby is a staff member in the Office of Interpretation at the United Methodist Board of Church and Society in Nashville, Tenn.

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