serving together

Zambia: Deaconesses of the United Church of Zambia

International Womens Day

Deaconess Mable Kifwabantu Sichali and Hazel Watson

Deaconess Mable Kifwabantu Sichali is the Community Development Social and Justice Secretary for the United Church of Zambia (UCZ).
She writes: “I was born into a Christian family from the UCZ. My father died when I was a young girl in 1984, causing life to change for us. We had very little school sponsorship as my mother was a civil servant and was poorly paid, and so to survive I had to work to raise money to go to school. It was survival of the fittest. One day in September 1992 my elder sister’s son suddenly became ill. At church that day I felt the peace of God and had the conviction that I was being called to serve. This was a problem, having moved we were attending the Evangelical Church of Zambia, which has no female pastors and does not allow women to preach in front of men. However, over the following years I was surrounded by such a great witness of men and women of God who encouraged me to join the ministry. In 2004 I was admitted at the UCZ theological college and my journey as a diaconal worker in the UCZ started.
During my first appointment in Mazabuka I coordinated women’s work in three consistories, and in 2007 I founded Tugwashanye Support Network, an organisation working with orphans, vulnerable children, and widows, living with HIV and AIDS. In March 2014 I was appointed as Community Development Social and Justice Secretary, and currently work on projects including self-help groups (partnered by the Church of Scotland), and continue to negotiate for gender based violence support.
When I look back and reflect on my life I feel I have come from nowhere. I never knew that one day I would tell my story because I never saw anything good coming out of my life. However I have seen the grace of God in my life – I am now a head of department and the first Deaconess to serve at management level in the history of the UCZ.”
Source: Church of Scotland

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,, to upload to this website)