Diakonia UCA

The portal for Deacons in the Uniting Church in Australia

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yes they do!!

Welcome to the home page of Diakonia UCA, your online portal for information about Deacons and diaconal ministry in the Uniting Church in Australia.

May 2016

Rev (Deacon) Heather den Houting elected General Secretary (Queensland UCA Synod)
Congratulations to Heather, and blessings for your ministry!

Ethel Helyar (1913 – 2005) Methodist bush nurse
A really interesting Radio National interview on early deaconesses in Australia.

An obituary in The Advertiser (Adelaide): Deaconess PATRICIA (PAT) MARGARET BAKER

Born: August 13, 1932; Adelaide     Died: January 11, 2016; Adelaide

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Deaconess Pat Baker

PAT was a pioneer in the Methodist, and later Uniting, Church in relation to the ministry of women.

At a time of social change in the second half of the 20th century, she was also a leading light in the church for children and young adults. Her contribution will long be remembered.

She was the younger of two daughters born to Alex Baker and Flora Bishop. She attended Norwood High School and Adelaide Girls High School.

Her father, a senior state public servant, was director of South Australian Tourism for many years.

Pat began her training as a deaconess in 1953, and was ordained 10 years later, enjoying ministry at Clarence Gardens and Whyalla before being appointed to the education wing of the Methodist Church. She started as assistant editor before becoming writer and editor, preparing materials for Sunday schools and youth groups.

She was based in Melbourne but later arranged to live in Adelaide due to the ill-health of her father, and travelled to her Melbourne office one week a month.

The 1970s to mid-1980s saw creative and innovative approaches to Christian education and Pat and her team were at its forefront.

Witty, and a lively storyteller, Pat made many friends in Australia and overseas.

In 1977 the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian churches combined to form the Uniting Church. Pat was proud to remain a deaconess, despite it becoming possible for her to become a deacon.

It was a busy time as she worked with the Commission on Liturgy which aimed to bring together the sacraments and worship of the three churches.

At the same time she led worship for the 9.30am community at Pilgrim Church on Flinders St in Adelaide.

As a representative of the Commission on Liturgy, Pat went to the Philippines for the East Asian Conference on Music and Liturgy, joining attendees from many countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Pat died suddenly at Resthaven Leabrook, where she had been active organising worship and social activities in the final years of her life.

April 2016

DIAKONIA World Federation April Prayer Letter
For the first time since World War II, the UN Refugee Agency placed the number of forcibly displaced refugees worldwide at 59.5 million. Even in Biblical times, we read about people who crossed a border for trade or protection, were trafficked across a border, or exiled to another country.
We pray for the protection of those forced to flee, embrace those who have made it safely to our country, and celebrate how our new neighbors have become beacons of hope and renewal in our communities. Together, we have welcomed the stranger in Christ’s name.
We pray:
Mighty Lord, as you guided the Israelites, through the wilderness,
be a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day
for refugees in search of new hope and new life.
As you brought the Israelites out of bondage to freedom,
bring refugees out of persecution to safety.
As you protected the Israelites through 40 years in the desert,
protect those who languish for years in refugee camps.
Wipe away their tears of sorrow,
that their mourning may give way to joyous hope.
Put an end to warfare and tyranny,
that some may return home without fear of violence.
Open the doors of safer nations,
that some may find new homes in new lands.
Rebuild their lives,
that they might enjoy the fruit of labors in peace.
Revive their hope,
that they might face a future with promise.
Shine your grace upon them,
That they might know your love.
Strengthen their bonds of friendship and family,
That we might serve one another with encouraging love.
Bless our nation with a spirit of openness,
That our communities and country may be renewed and strengthened by newcomers.
And inspire your churches to welcome the stranger,
That together we might build communities of hope where strangers become
neighbors and friends, and brothers and sisters. Amen.
(prepared by Deaconess Diane Kaufmann, and adapted from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, ELCA Refugee Sunday Kit)

Congratulations to Rev (Deac) Emma Matthews and Murray Thompson on the occasion of their wedding on Sunday April 10th.


March 2016


Rev Frances Bartlett (2nd from left) and Rev Cate Baker (right) flank Rev Anne Butler.








Two Deacons were on hand to welcome Rev Anne Butler (MoW) as a chaplain to an aged care centre in SA. Rev Deac Cate Baker, is the Coordinating Chaplain at Resthaven Leabrook and Paradise, and  Rev Deac Frances Bartlett is the Coordinating Chaplain at Resthaven Murray Bridge.


Bev Fabb reflects on the influence of Deaconess Dr Cath Ritchie on her diaconal ministry in Revive Magazine (WA Synod).

“The woman who has had the most profound impact on my life is Deaconess Dr Cath Ritchie. Born to a farming family in Gippsland, Victoria in 1909, educated in a one teacher rural school, she eventually graduated from the University of Melbourne. Raised in a Scottish Presbyterian family, her Christian faith was always central in her life. In 1937 she responded to a call from the Foreign Missions Department to serve as a teacher missionary in Korea, then under Japanese rule. When Japan entered the war in 1941, all Australian missionaries were recalled from Korea. Cath dreamed of returning once the war was over, but this was not to be. After a time as a youth worker in rural Victoria, riding her bicycle between towns, she was asked to become Principal of Rolland House, the Presbyterian Deaconess and Missionary training college. She remained in this position for 23 years.
Cath insisted that all the women trained at Rolland House were given a theological education equivalent in standard to that given to the men training for ordination. She also insisted that her students got practical experience of ministry, something that the men did not get. Within Rolland House she created a community grounded in spirituality and mutual service. At the time when women attending the Presbyterian Assembly were relegated to the galleries, Principal Ritchie was alone allowed to address the gathering and was a strong advocate for women in ministry. Cath forged links ecumenically and internationally with others called to diaconal ministry. In 1994 the Melbourne College of Divinity awarded her a Doctorate of Sacred Theology in honour of her leadership in theological education, especially for women.
As a young Christian I was inspired by Cath’s keen intellect, her humility in service, her strong advocacy for women, her passion for the mission of the church and her solidarity with the poor and oppressed”.

March 2016
On 6th March, Rev Deac Emma Matthews was inducted as a Deacon in Nedlands Uniting Church in a bi lingual Mandarin/English service. A very happy multicultural event. May God bless her richly in this new ministry.










For archived news from previous years, click on ‘archived news’ button at top of page.