Maylanne attended the gathering of DUCC (Diakonia of the United Church of Canada) last week. Here are her reflections as an ecumenical observer:
From April 29 to May 3, Ted, Ann and I were at the Tatamagouche Centre in Nova Scotia, together with about 50 diaconal ministers from across Canada. Ann and Ted were there as participants, planners, and resource people. For most of the event I was an ecumenical observer, and for some of it, I was the Principal of the Centre for Christian Studies. It was instructive to separate and balance these roles.
I tried to imagine how Anglican deacons would perceive the event. I think they would have been greatly impressed by the large turnout, the high spirits, and the careful planning. I hope they would also have noticed the shared leadership and the careful combination of worship, theme, and business.
They would have been challenged by the presentations by Lisa Polito on DOTAC (Diakonia of the Americas and the Caribbean) and the World Diakonia, and by Barbara Lloyd on “Theological Perspectives on Diakonia in the Twenty First Century”, especially the reflections on the diakonia of marginalized people.
They would have been moved by the memorial evening, celebrating the lives of so many good and courageous women and men who have gone before us. They would have been nurtured by the workshops on creative journaling, the use of image and word, on singing. They would have loved the expeditions – to a pottery studio, to a winery and sheep farm – and, of course, the lobster dinner and the ceilidh (kitchen party) with dancing, singing, food, and much laughter.
In fact, the Association of Anglican Deacons in Canada will be meeting in August 2014 in Halifax, so planners, take note! I hope you will also consider inviting ecumenical guests from the United and Lutheran traditions, and from the wider diaconal community, including DOTAC and the World Diakonia.
Some of the differences they would have noticed would have been the informal and free style of worship, the paid, professional status of diaconal ministry, the discussions about authorization to preside at the sacraments (which is very clearly not a diaconal role in the Anglican Church), and the suggestion of a complete re-vamping of ministry in The United Church of Canada. (Anglicans tend not to re- invent their forms of ministry very often or very radically!).
Yet the commonalities are considerable and significant, and the strength gained from sharing them far surpasses the differences between us. My thanks to DUCC for having me as their guest, and to the Centre for Christian Studies for its role in creating so fine a community.