The Venerable Jane Simmonds writes about her year as Archdeacon for the Household of Deacons
A year has passed since Bishop Mark invited me to become the Archdeacon to the diaconate and the time has been marked by joys, sorrows, challenges and just plain difficulties. I felt inadequate for the task, but God’s grace continues to sustain and guide me. I am encouraged by my fellow deacons, and Paul’s words:
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13
It has been an absolute joy to finally meet most of my fellow deacons face-to-face at our Household gatherings in Canberra and Harden, as well as at Synod and Clergy Conference. It is wonderful to share stories of our various ministries, have some training and pray for each other. I have also spoken to people who feel called by God to the diaconate, encouraging them to pursue their vocation in spite of the hurdles they may experience in their journey to ordination.
The passing of two of our Household members saddens us all: Reverend Bill Huff-Johnson and Reverend Mary Thorn, who have gone to be with God after years of service to him. May they rest in peace and rise again in glory.
I am learning to be part of the Senior Leadership team and beginning to find my way around all the relevant documents during the Bishop-in-Council meetings. It is an illuminating experience to see how our diocese works as we further God’s kingdom.
Challenges. Yes there are many, but we believe that the Holy Spirit guides us as we encounter each one. However in my case the Holy Spirit pushes me to do the things I find difficult: giving a talk to the formation class at St Marks, and doing a presentation about the diaconate at the Clergy Conference. Like all Archdeacons I walk a fine line between my role as Head of the Household of Deacons and my work in Narooma and Bodalla, focusing on pastoral care for older people in their own homes and in residential care. Sometimes these duties clash.
At our ordination as deacons, we are exhorted to pray and work for peace and justice in the world. This has been the greatest personal challenge to me this year.
In our parish we took part in the Lenten Journey ‘God of Compassion’. I have never taken part in a study group that has promoted so much spirited discussion. The public issues raised caused great controversy and I thank the Commission for raising such topics.
The subject of ‘First Australians’ provoked the most discussion. We were dismayed to hear that the local ministry at Mogo had been curtailed due to lack of financial support. The matter was brought up at Parish Council and a fundraising effort will take place later in the year. In the meantime individuals have been donating to an Indigenous Family, Support and Encouragement group at Batemans Bay and to specific Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander projects through ABM. We were greatly encouraged to hear that Canberra Grammar School had scholarships for Indigenous students and the other Diocesan schools offer bursaries to these students as well.
Other major topics were that of ‘Refugees’ and ‘Increasing Inequality’. Many diverse views were debated. As a parish we continue to give financial and emotional support to a refugee family who have moved from here to Canberra, who are appealing their deportation. As individuals we are funding education for disadvantaged children through The Smith Family sponsorship scheme.
Every little bit helps.
It’s the action that’s important … If you do nothing, there will be no result. Mahatma Gandhi
Yes, it has been an exciting year.