UK: The Deaconesses of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland
Deaconesses in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland are called to serve by the Board of Mission in Ireland. They mainly work in congregations, in hospitals, in hospice care, in prisons, in special work and in the community. ‘Deaconesses bring authentic faith in Christ to everyone they meet. As women with a specific calling they are a dedicated group, some trained with specific skills in counselling or caring, others passionate about reaching people beyond the normal circle of the church. Thank God for them. They bring the extraordinary Jesus with them into the ordinary world’. (Source: Deaconess website).
This work is run in conjunction with the Board of Mission in Ireland and in connection with Presbyterian Women. Interested applicants should enquire in the first instance from the Board of Mission in Ireland.
telephone: +44(0)28 9032 2284
Deaconess Jenny Clegg writes about Samaritan’s Purse and the 2013 DIAKONIA World Assembly.
Amy Magee, Deaconess
Amy grew up in Ballymoney and studied in Glasgow for four years, where she received an MA Hons in Theology. On returning home, she had the intention of going into teaching. However, God had other plans and she became a youth workers in her home congregation of Trinity Ballymoney. After this she felt God was calling her to remain in church work and the opportunity to train as a Deaconess in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland emerged. She started Union College in Belfast in September 2009 and studied there for one year. She has since commenced her probationary year in Muckamore during the summer of 2010. She hopes to be involved in pastoral visits, mother and toddlers group and the friendship club. She is also planning to set up a social group for the young women of the church to meet together and have fellowship. (Source: Muckamore PC)
Deaconess Evelyn White, First Lisburn Presbyterian Church
A century of service: celebrating the role of deaconesses in the church, by Holmes, Janice and McCracken, Philippa (2008). Belfast: 10Publishing
This publication was commissioned by the Presbyterian Women’s Association (Ireland) and the Presbyterian Historical Society in Ireland, under the auspices of the Presbyterian Board of Mission in Ireland. It consists of two parts. The first part, written by Dr Janice Holmes, is a historical survey, based on original scholarly research and including full references, of the first 100 years of the deaconess movement in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI), 1908-2008. This survey recounts the origins of the deaconess movement within the PCI in the early twentieth century, its leadership and organisational structures, its personnel and its activities. It goes on to explain the difficulties encountered by this fledgling movement, in particular its lack of funds and the ambivalent attitudes towards women’s ministry within the church. It explores how the deaconesses were reorganised in the 1940s and placed on a more secure financial footing, which allowed the group to grow in size and scale. It considers the changes of management and the move into new areas of ministry, such as hospitals and suburban housing estates. It concludes with a consideration of deaconesses within the modern Irish Presbyterian church and how their largely service-based role sits alongside that of female clergy.
Information to be collected includes (but is not limited to) the following questions.
A brief history (may include links to documents and websites) – how did it all get started? What are the key dates and events? Are there documents that are part of the history (please specify)?
Diaconal ministry agents: consecretrated/commissioned/ordained/other?
Title: Sister, Deaconess, Deacon, Rev, etc
Historical information and dates re formation/recognition of diaconal ministry agents in the denomination/church agency.
Does the diaconal ministry agent wear a distinctive uniform? Are diaconal ministry agents able to be married? Are they remunerated? Do they live in community (eg motherhouse) or independently? Etc.
What kind of training/formation do diaconal ministry agents receive before formal recognition in their church. Are there expectations of ongoing training, or professional development? If yes, what is expected and how often does it happen?
How many diaconal ministry agents are there currently in the denomination or church agency? Any comment on trends in numbers?
Are there key people (historical or current) in the organization who have provided significant leadership. Any weblinks to their story, or a short write up?
Who are the current leaders in the diaconal association? (photos, ‘blurb’).
Relationship of diaconal ministry agents to a denomination/church agency
An overview of main responsibilities for diaconal ministry agents (past and present). Are they located within a church, a particular facility or agency, or community based? Are diaconal ministry agents appointed to individual placements or work together on projects or in institutions?
Are diaconal ministry agents able to preside at sacraments (communion, baptism, weddings etc)?
Who makes the appointments for diaconal ministry agents eg they apply for positions, they are appointed (eg by a Bishop, by the conference office, or another body/committee).
Is there a length of time for appointments (eg usually less than 5 years, usually between 5 and 10 years, at the discretion of the diaconal ministry agent or at the discretion of the appointing body), appointed to and remain with a particular mother house, etc.
Do diaconal ministry agents organize conferences, seminars, gatherings for professional development, pastoral peer support etc? How often and what is the nature of these events?
Key issues and challenges in the contemporary ministry context
Do the diaconal ministry agents have ‘code of conduct’ or ‘code of ethics’ that inform ethical and behavioral expectations for ministry?
Key documents (historical, vision and mission etc) – links or PDF or Word files
Links to relevant articles, websites etc
Other areas of interest……
(information to Rev Sandy Boyce, President, DIAKONIA World Federation, firstname.lastname@example.org, to upload to this website)