Executive Bios

World President

Rev. Sandy Boyce (Australia)

Doris Horn

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Deacon in the Uniting Church in Australia. She worked as a teacher for almost 20 years, prior to starting work in the church in 1993 as a youth worker and later as an ordained Minister. Sandy has had many roles including serving for many years as the national People in Mission Coordinator, placing volunteers with partner churches in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. This involved recruitment, training and support of volunteers, and debriefing on their return. She coordinated three About F.A.C.E. (Faith and Culture Exchange) programs for young adults with Aboriginal communities in Australia. Since 2009, Sandy has been the Deacon in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church in the city of Adelaide, South Australia.

Sandy worked as English editor on DIAKONIA News for several years, along with Ulrike Kellner who was the German editor. Sandy had the opportunity to attend the DIAKONIA Executive as part of that role. She was elected President, DIAKONIA World Federation, at the DIAKONIA World Assembly in Berlin in 2013, and again at the Chicago Assembly in 2017. Sandy is working with a team to plan the next DIAKONIA Assembly, anticipated to be in Darwin in 2022 (delayed due to the pandemic). Sandy remains very committed to Diakonia of the Uniting Church in Australia (DUCA), with responsibility for a number of roles.

Sandy and Geoff have three adult children, and five grandchildren.


DIAKONIA Region Asia-Pacific (DAP)

Regional President

Meresiana Kuricava (Fiji)

Emma Cantor

Meresiana N. Kuricava is an ordained Deaconess of the Methodist Church in Fiji. Currently she is the Administrator of the Methodist Deaconess Order and Heads the Deaconess Training Centre situated at 29 Moala Street, Samabula, Suva. She has served in the Dilkusha  Home in 1994 with orphanage children before further serving in 2 other Circuits/ Parish.

She is a graduate of the Pacific Theological College in Suva with a Bachelor of Divinity. She obtained her M. A. Mission Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK in 2003.  She later served as Tutor at the Deaconess Training Centre from 2003 – 2010, and serving as Administrator since 2011 till today. In her work as Administrator she sees the implementation of better quality theological training for deaconesses and for the daily running of the Deaconess House.

Her spouse is a school teacher, with 2 young boys in Primary school. The family attend Dudley Methodist Church which is under the Indian Division of the Methodist Church in Fiji. Deaconess Meresiana Kuricava is also the Coordinator of Sunday School in the Indian Division. She has organized rallies and, camps for children and workshops for Sunday School teachers within the Indian Division.

She joined DAP in a meeting in Adelaide in October, 2016. From then on it has been an exciting journey with having to know and learn about Diakonia associations in the Pacific. The first World Assembly she was part of was in 2017 in Chicago.

Being part of the World Executive Committee is a challenge and a joy as a horizon is extended to learn and know more about the histories of diakonia and to help paddle a new course in this changing world.


DIAKONIA Asia Pacific Co Vice Presidents

Deacon Christa Megaw (Australia)

Alison McRae

Christa Megaw is a Deacon currently in congregational ministry at Henley Fulham Uniting Church, South Australia – one congregation on two sites near the coast. One of Christa’s roles is to encourage and equip members of the congregation to make connections with the local and wider community in a range of ways.  The congregation has recently won a grant to employ a part time deacon candidate, Chelsea Size  as community pastor, which is very encouraging. 

Before this placement, Christa worked for the Uniting Church in the area of International Mission, encouraging individuals and congregations to make links with people in our partner churches through sharing stories of faith, prayer and mutual visits. 

Previously Christa has volunteered for some years, supporting refugees and asylum seekers.  She was ordained in 2011 after working as a primary school teacher.

Christa is married to Phil, who retired for a short time but has gone back to work in a part time capacity, helping to maintain a Uniting Church conference center.


Archdeacon Anne Russell-Brighty, Diocese of Christchurch, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

President of  Diakonia Aotearoa New Zealand Association (DANZA) which has members from both Anglican and Methodist communities.

Vice-President of Diakonia Asia Pacific (DAP) 2017

Anne was one of the first deacons to be ordained to the vocational diaconate in the Diocese of Christchurch and has been responsible for coordinating the support and training of deacons in that diocese since 1998.   Over the past ten years she has developed and directed an annual short residential school for diaconal formation which is attended by deacons from around the country. For further information see the following webpage and see the links on the right hand column of that page.

A great deal of Anne’s ministry has focused on training lay and ordained ministers in the spiritual care of people who are ageing.  Currently, in addition to various co-ordinating roles, Anne is the minister in charge of a small lively community-serving parish in one of the most disadvantaged areas of Christchurch.

Anne is married to Adrian and they live in Christchurch city. They have 5 adult children and (so far) 8 grandchildren all of whom are living close by.   Anne’s passion is to see all people of God empowered to live out their God-given vocation with joy.


DIAKONIA of the Americas and the Caribbean (DOTAC)

Regional President

Ted Dodd, Diaconal Minister, United Church of Canada

After teaching at the Centre for Christian Studies for seventeen years, Ted retired in 2015. Prior to joining the staff of CCS, Ted served in various congregational and regional ministries. In 2003, after a special program of study, Ted became the first person in the United Church to switch order of ministry designation from ordained to diaconal. His doctoral work focused on Tranformational Learning and Theological Education.  http://ducc.ca/tag/ted-dodd/

In 2012, Ted was named co-recipient of the Davidson Trust Award for excellence in theological education. His 2003 Master’s thesis is entitled Diaconal Ministry in the United Church of Canada: Function, Style and Perspective. To view some of his writing on diakonia see:

Also in 2003, he completed a certificate in Conflict Mediation. In 1998, Ted co‑edited Roll Away the Stone: Lenten Reflections at the Close of the Ecumenical Decade in Solidarity with Women. He also chaired the national task group preparing service book, Celebrate God’s Presence.


DOTAC second representative to the Executive Committee

Deacon Jan Cherry (United States of America)

Deacon Jan Cherry is a Minister of Word and Service in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In her retirement Jan is serving with a small congregation in Everett, Washington as Supply Pastor on Sundays, walking with them as they work to discern where God is calling them to serve and what God is calling them to be in the world.

She has been the representative of her community of Deacons of the ELCA (formerly Diaconal Ministry Community) since DIAKONIA World Assembly in Atlanta in 2009, where she has served as Treasurer for all eight years.  This position also carried responsibility for alternate delegate to our 2nd Representative to the World Executive Committee, and Jan filled that place four times in those 8 years.

Jan has been married to Phil for 40 years and they have three children and four grandchildren.


DIAKONIA Region Africa-Europe (DRAE)

Regional President

Rev Marianne Uri Øverland (Norway)

Marianne Overland

President DIAKONIA-DRAE (Region Africa-Europe) and one of the vice-presidents in DIAKONIA-WORLD.

She is the director (CEO) of the Church Educational Centre, Oslo, Norway and an ordained pastor in Church of Norway (Evangelical-Lutheran). She is married and has one adult daughter.

Marianne belongs to the diaconal fellowship at Lovisenberg in Oslo, Norway and was their forstanderinne (leading sister) from 2008 – 2014.
She has been working in Church of Norway and affiliated church organizations since 1983, mainly in the area of diakonia and education. For four years she taught in Botswana. She has also been doing organizational work as a member of several boards. Currently she is the chairperson of the diaconal organization CRUX.

The diaconal fellowship at Lovisenberg is the oldest one in Norway, founded in 1868. It also founded the first school for nurses in the country. For the deaconesses and the other sisters, it has always been very important that their service as health workers has been based on Christianity and that their consecration has been into the Church of Norway. Nowadays even deacons, pastors and missionaries are members of the fellowship.

Ora et labora – pray and work – are two important words in their service.


African Representative

Deaconess Ibironke Oworu (Nigeria)

Position/Membership of the Executive- African Representative

Deaconess Ibironke Oworu is a trained Psychiatric and General Nurse who has practiced for many years. She was called to the Ministry of service 13 years ago in Methodist Church Nigeria. She is the Healing Ministry and works as the Health Secretary in Methodist Church Nigeria with oversight function of about 18 hospitals. Deaconess Oworu is in the forefront of advocating for change in the Order of Deaconesses, Methodist Church Nigeria. She is married with three boys.


Kaiserswerther Association (Germany), Austria, Franceand Poland

Sr. Birgit Banzhaf (Germany)

Birgit Banzha

Sr. Birgit Banzhaf lives in Dresden, Germany. She has been associated with the Kaiserswerth Association as a diaconal sister in different roles – and with some interruptions – since 1982. She was shaped by her years at the Stuttgart motherhouse, and today is a member of the diaconal community at the Dresden motherhouse.

She is fascinated by the history of the Kaiserswerth Association. It began when some prominent people became aware of the needs of society and courageously and capably tackled them. They did so conscious of their faith in a living God: A God Who does great things. This faith – great and at the same time humble – has supported the establishment of a large worldwide network of educational, training, and diaconal institutions.

She is a practical nurse and has studied management of nursing services. She has worked as a matron in different hospitals and has been a hospital health care consultant. Currently she works in a leadership position at the Carus Akademie in Dresden.

She finds it a great honor and responsibility to serve as a representative on both the Executive Committees of DIAKONIA World Federation and DIAKONIA Region Africa Europe. She is pleased to represent the member groups in the countries listed above.


Europäischer Verband freikirchlicher Diakoniewerke, DGD (Germany), Netherlands, Switzerland

Sr. Elisabeth Meier (Switzerland)

Elisabeth Meier

Sr. Elisabeth Meier belongs to the Sisterhood of Bethesda in Basel, Switzerland, related to the Methodist Church. As a trained Nurse she worked for 4 years in a Mission Hospital in Thailand. She then had to return to Switzerland for health reasons and trained as a Director in Nursing and started work at the Bethesda-Hospital – belonging to the “Diakonat Bethesda”. Two years later, in 1983, she joined the Sisterhood, a step she has never regretted! A few years ago she returned to Thailand for another 4 years to be the Manager of the Guesthouse of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship in Bangkok.

She now enjoys her “active retirement”! Within the Sisterhood of 30, mostly older, Sisters she is responsible for the financial administration and is involved in caring for Sisters who need assistance. They all live together in the same house, having regular prayers three times a day. Intersession is one of their main ministries. She is also involved in the “Stadtgebet” – prayer for their town in the Cathedral of Basel and in child care during the meeting of young mothers in the State church in their neighborhood.

She says, “It is good to see how diaconal work worldwide can have so many different faces and yet all the ones involved in it have the same goal: Showing God’s love to people in need.”


Officers

Secretary

Sr. Traude Leitenberger (Germany)

Traude Leitenberger

Sr. Traude Leitenberger has served as the secretary of DIAKONIA World Federeation since May 1, 2014. She is a diaconal sister of the Stuttgart motherhouse (Evangelische Diakonissenanstalt Stuttgart) and also a deacon with the Evangelical Church of Baden-Württemberg. She worked as a nurse and was qualified in tropical medicine, parish nursing, and nursing management. She worked at the university hospital of Tübingen and with mobile services throughout Germany. She also worked in Halifax, England; in Maubeuge, France; in a camp for fugitives in the Republic of Djibouti; and for some years in Chamba, Ghana.

From 2001 until November 2012, when she retired, Traude led the Stuttgart community of diaconal sisters and brothers. This community has about 350 members. In the tradition of Kaiserswerth motherhouses, both members and employees of the institution receive diaconal education in addition to their professional education.

Their sisterhood maintains partnerships with the Emmanuel Sisters in Bafut, Cameroon and with an Orthodox community of women in Cluj, Romania.

The basic Christian order of diakonia in community has guided and motivated her professional life. Her life has been enriched and shaped by working with people of different faiths and cultures as they have lived together and learned from each other.

She is honored to have been asked to serve as DIAKONIA’s secretary, and she thanks those responsible for the faith they have put her. She looks forward with great joy to working for DIAKONIA.


Treasurer

Gordon Pennykid (Scotland)

Gordon Pennykid is a deacon of the Church of Scotland currently serving as prison Chaplain in HMP EDINBURGH. Gordon previously served as a parish Deacon in Livingston. He was ordained in 2015 after working previously in Civil Engineering.  He has a passion for inter generational worship and looking for ways to encounter God out with our buildings.

Gordon is married to Jennifer and they have two children both currently at University.  He loves Football and when not in prison (…working!) he can be found mostly frequenting ‘Tynecastle’ home of his beloved Heart of Midlothian FC.


Representative for Financial and Law (RFL)/ Neuendettelsau

Thorsten Walter (Germany)

Thorsten Walter has been working at Diakoneo (former Diakonie Neuendettelsau) since March 2010.  

When the Diakoneo was awarded with the contract with Diakonia World Federation, he took on the position of Representative for Financial and Law Support alongside his other duties as Head of the Institute for International Cooperation at Diakoneo. 

In his work he networks with many organizations and people in Europe and beyond. Thus, the new task represented a continuation and confirmation of the previous activities. His responsibilities include  market development in other European countries, the maintenance and expansion of international cooperation and international projects management including fundraising. 

He is also the managing director of the network SoCareNet Europe. It supports and advises the more than 20 members from Central and Eastern Europe, who build up and offer social and health services in this region. The aim of the network is to foster an active exchange of experiences between the members and to promote new collaborations. 

Originally, Thorsten trained as a Care Giver for special needs and after a two-year missionary period in Mexico, he studied nursing management B.A. at the Catholic College in Munich. From 2011 to 2013, he studied part-time at the University of Bayreuth and earned a Master of Business Administration in Health Care Management. 


Editor DIAKONIA E-News

Deacon Jan Cherry (United States of America)

See bio above under DOTAC section.


Webminder

Deaconess Sara Manning (United States of America)

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