Diaconal Ministry Stories
Stories from the places where the church and the world intersect -- ministries of word and service --
This is a collection of stories about diaconal ministers and how they serve, as well as articles by diaconal ministers as they fulfill the vision of the roster. This is not a finely polished product but simply the combined effort of an office staff desiring to serve the Seminary and the church as we journey on the mission venture.
Christine Spain Connell New York City
Christine Spain Connell serves under Synod Call in the Metropolitan New York Synod as the administrator for the Nassau and Suffolk Area of Lutheran Family and Community Services (LFCS) (an affiliate of Lutheran Social Service). In her position she oversees LFCS community programs in these counties - including providing food to struggling families; giving new mothers formula, diapers, and baby clothes; distributing holiday baskets; administering camp scholarships for at-risk youth; and an adult day care program that focuses on social interaction rather than medical maintenance. She is developing a domestic violence outreach education program, as well as other community programs for youth and the elderly.
Spain Connell writes, "My training and ability to work out in the community, balancing between the church and the world, aid the pastor in his or her ministry. I do this for no other reason than that I love it. I believe that we are all called to care for those around us, as the book of Romans tells us over and over. We are each a special gift, given by our Creator. The clients that I serve either don't know this or have forgotten it. My job is to remind them whom they belong to. Nothing is more important than this."
(DMFE refers to the Diaconal Ministry Formation Event)
Doug Spiotta Minneapolis, MN
January 15th (2001) I started a new call. I'm the Congregational Organizer for the Lutheran Coalition on Public Policy in Minnesota. This will be a synodical call from the Minneapolis Area Synod.
LCPPM is 15 years old, one of 18 ELCA state advocacy organizations, and operates under the Dept for Advocacy, Div for Church in Society. LCPPM's Policy Council has representation from each of the 6 ELCA Synod's in MN and is a partner ministry with each of them. Funding comes from the Div for Church in Society, the ELCA Hunger Appeal, and each of the 6 synods.
This social advocacy position is to "facilitate the establishment, maintenance, and mobilization of a MN statewide network of core teams including hunger contacts within ELCA congregations (only 1,200 in MN!!). These core teams shall be organized around the issue of hunger and its underlying causes, based upon the objectives of the ELCA's World Hunger Program."
The main emphasis for this MN Legislative Session is hunger - but LCPPM partners with several other social advocacy organizations in the State working on hunger - as well as housing, gambling, the farm crisis, immigrant issues, welfare reform, child care, and Minnesota's $3 billion budget surplus.
Other advocacy organizations LCPPM partners with are the Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing, LSS, Catholic Charities - Office for Social Justice, Congregations Concerned for Children, Episcopal Diocese of MN, Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, Jewish Community Action, MN Conference - United Church of Christ, Presbytery of the Twin Cities, St. Paul Area Council of Churches, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, MN FoodShare, United Methodist Women, Jewish Community Relations Council of MN and the Dakotas, American Muslim Council - MN Chapter, and the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition. 1/2001
Kirstin Tannas Detroit Michigan
I am writing to let you know that I will be consecrated and installed at Iroquois Avenue Christ Lutheran Church in Detroit, MI on June 30, 2001.
When I couldn't find a 'place' to do ministry, I considered starting a new one (that would include starting a childcare center). My bishop suggested talking to a local pastor who had started a childcare center in their church. A few weeks after I talked with the pastor, I got a phone message that they needed a worker for their center. Because I had taken a part-time job as a Parent Educator with a local public school system (I took a part-time position because I wanted to be open for a half time call from a church), I couldn't work all of the hours that they wanted, but was able to work temporarily a few days a week until they found someone else. I started at the daycare at the beginning of October.
In November the pastor of the church approached me and said that he had seen my resume from the childcare center and wanted to talk with me more. In addition, he was also interested in talking with my husband, Troy, who is also seminary trained. When we talked, the pastor shared that he wanted to have a team ministry and thought it would be best for the long term viability of the ministry. He said he would talk to the council and thought that in January or February that they may be able to offer us positions.
The first month was extremely busy and exciting. I had the privilege of administering the Christmas Basket Outreach program and the Giving Tree which provided clothing gifts for 170 children.
As things turned out, the congregation voted unanimously on March 4th to extend a call to me. So, here I am! I have incredible flexibility and am able to start whatever new programs I can dream up! The pastor is absolutely wonderful and treats me as an equal minister. In fact, he is very conscious to make sure that the congregation sees us as equal with different focuses. My job with the school system is also a great ministry. I work with families that have children infant to five years old. I do home visits with the families and offer support. I also still work at the childcare center one day a week! Many different forms of ministry that all get integrated. In fact, it amazes me how interested and supportive the people in the school are about my 'church' work.
It is very clear to me that this is what I am being called to do at this time...I am so thankful that diaconal ministry has provided the avenue through which I am able to use my gifts in service through the church. 5/2001
Ardie Senft 10/2000
I want to ask for prayers as I begin my last few weeks as director of the Phoenix Lutheran Urban Coalition - my first call - as well as my part-time position at New Covenant Lutheran and look forward to a new fulltime call at Grace Lutheran in downtown Phoenix. I will be working with Pastor Roger Thompson doing urban ministry in our oldest Lutheran church in Arizona. Grace has been one of the strongest partners in the urban coalition and will continue to work hard at keeping the coalition going as this transition occurs and they begin the search for a new director and also for an interim. At Grace I will be working in the area of neighborhood ministry and evangelism - also youth and family ministry - I'm thrilled to be able to get some hands on urban ministry, but it is hard to leave two positions that have been both challenging and rewarding.
Please keep both New Covenant and the urban coalition in your prayers. The coalition is a 1/2 time call but if any of you out there are interested please give the synod office a call 602 957-3223 - it is a challenging diaconal call.
Mindy Hoffman 2001
I serve as the Lutheran/Episcopal Campus Minister at the University of Wisconsin--Whitewater, a state school with approximately 10,000 students. I work in partnership with two local congregations, First English Lutheran Church (ELCA) and St. Luke's Episcopal Church, preaching every six weeks or so and assisting with Lutheran services about once per month. On campus, I work in tandem with the lay Catholic Campus Minister here at the Campus Ministry Center; we offer Wednesday evening spaghetti suppers (free to the campus community), organize joint social activities for our student groups, and hold special ecumenical services once per semester. On September 12, 2001 we were called upon to spearhead the planning and leading of an interfaith worship service for the campus. I facilitate weekly Bible studies, convene a Lutheran/Episcopal Student Group, and share in ministry with students to organize socials, service projects, retreats, and other events.