August E-News DAP: AADA Report 2021

AUSTRALIAN ANGLICAN DIACONAL ASSOCIATION

The past 12 months has brought with it some tragic circumstances for many people around the world and here in Australia with the COVID-19 pandemic. Surprisingly it has also offered some opportunities previously untapped by our Association.

The Zoom (and others) interface platform has opened up for us opportunities to connect in ways that have not previously been possible.

In the height of lockdowns in 2020, our church explored many ways to stay connected with our parishioners and as part of that, I livestreamed evening prayer twice a week to our faith community via Facebook. As an adjunct to that, I started offering evening prayer on Facebook for our AADA deacons until someone suggested ‘zooming’ evening prayer.

A year on, we continue to gather via Zoom every Sunday evening at 5pm WST, sharing the leading, reading and reflections as well as singing (on mute in our own spaces!!) and praying together. There is also space for a little conversation but we leave the bigger discussion points for our monthly Friday gatherings – again via Zoom – held at 1pm WST on the first Friday of each month.

Topics of discussion include:

  • Rediscovering the ordinal and how we live out our ministry calling according to the ordination promises that we made
  • Challenges and joys of being a deacon in our places and spaces
  • The diocesan differences of diaconal ministry across Australia
  • The slow decline of the Diaconate – how can we arrest the decline and reclaim the Diaconate
  • How do we educate our priestly colleagues about the Diaconate?
  • Pathways to ordination (and how they differ across Australia)
  • What are the important aspects of the Diaconate?
  • What are the points of intersection and the points of difference between being a deacon and being a priest and how does the relationship with the bishop play into this Venn diagram?

I have been gathering information regarding all these issues and am hoping to prepare a paper regarding the state of the Diaconate in the Australian Anglican Church. For what purpose I am not sure of yet, but I feel strongly that unless we clarify what it is we are advocating for then we won’t be able to forge a new pathway for the invigoration of the Diaconate in the Anglican Church. We won’t have salient arguments to articulate for the necessity of a strong, robust, full and equal order of the Diaconate.

Two of us attended the recent UK diaconal association conference (again presented via Zoom) which was fabulous and I took comprehensive notes which we are unpacking and discussing at our Friday meetings as well.

Our plan, inspired by the UK experience, is to run our own virtual conference for AADA deacons in August this year. I have begun the early planning stages of this and hope that we might attract a good number of interested deacons. A virtual conference does appear to take out the angst of organizing a conference in regard to catering, accommodation and booking of venues. The plan is to run two afternoons across a weekend with a formal registration process and a line-up of guest speakers and presenters.

As an association, I feel as though we have never been as well connected as we are at the moment and it has been a wonderful journey of collegiality, support and connection which has grown and flourished as we meet regularly over cyber space. Our previous biennial face-to-face conferences were always fabulous and I hope we can return to them in the near future, but the opportunity to meet together and share our ministry stories and challenges has been an absolute blessing to all of us.

Mandy Herriman

June 2021


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