Deacon gathering explores the church beyond the gathered community

Deacon gathering explores the church beyond the gathered community

The Biennial Deacon Gathering is a national meeting that gives Uniting Church Deacons the chance to participate in continuing education with an intentional diaconal focus.

The Diaconate Intensive is an undergraduate intensive that candidates are required to undertake. This year, the intensive was opened up to all who attended the conference.

United Theological College hosted the 2019 conference from Monday 11 February to Friday 15 February.

Rev. Dr Rhonda White facilitated the event, which was linked to the prior week’s Pastoral Strengths Conference.

Rev. Dr White told Insights that the event had been well-received. “The variety of presenters reflected the diversity of the Diaconate and the challenges that Deacons encounter in their different ministry settings,” she said.

“I think credit has to be given to Karen Mitchell Lambert who put the program together and corralled the different presenters for each session.”

“She also organised the catering to keep the costs as low as possible as some of the Deacon candidates are not in placements yet.”

Sally Yabsley-Bell is one of the Deacon candidates who attended.

“The amount of wisdom that was shared between the group, about job opportunities and experiences was particularly valuable as diaconal placements are often very isolating,” Mrs Yabsley-Bell said.

Deacons had the chance to visit some of Sydney’s outreaches, including Wayside at Bondi and Kings Cross and Uniting’s safe injecting room. Thursday afternoon featured an exposure visit to Bidwill Uniting Church and the Community Garden and Café in Lalor Park.

“We were blessed to hear from Karen Paull and about her role of Community Chaplain at Lane Cove, and gain insight from her experience,” Mrs Yabsley-Bell said.

According to Mrs Yabsley-Bell, one of the main takeaways from the conference was “seeing how many deacon candidates are beginning to come through.”

“There was a feeling that the reason more deacons are being called might be the church is either better understand the role of the diaconate or that people are recognising the need for the church to look beyond the traditional gathered community.”

“The deacons shared many fresh expressions of how they live out there call to ministry and it was inspiring to me, to hear all the ways God is calling us to minister.”

Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor

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