My Visit to the Methodist Diaconal Order of the UK
While in London I was able to visit with Karen McBride, Warden of the Methodist Diaconal Order of the UK, and Ruth Richey, Vice Warden.
Karen invited me to visit her and Ruth at their office in central London. The Methodist Church House occupies a large, old, brown brick office building but the diaconal order is situated in one office room – as a minority order within the church.
However, they have transformed their small office into a very welcoming meeting space with couches, a long wooden table, and liturgical objects. I was struck by how familiar the space felt – the quilted tapestries and table runners, the candles, photos of deaconesses, the symbolic towel and basin, and the warm welcome of Karen and Ruth who wanted to share with me their history of Methodist diakonia in the UK – the tone and look would not be unfamiliar to anyone with experience of CCS.
Over tea the three of us discussed the similarities and differences in the Canadian and British diaconal experience, and we discussed the various opportunities and challenges for diaconal ministry in our contexts. We were very interested to hear from each other about diaconal formation. I showed Karen and Ruth our website and they are very impressed with our process. I was very interested to hear that deacons and presbyters, as well as candidates for ministry from other protestant denominations, are all trained at a single school in Birmingham – The Queens Foundation. I am curious to learn more about this, so when I am back in London in the fall I intend to visit Birmingham.