Where justice rolls down

Where justice rolls down

by Jonathan Tindor

Deaconesses are called to where the world and the church meet, to bring hope and healing into the brokenness. 

Ecumenical Advocacy Days is a national, ecumenical movement that brings together over 1,000 Christian leaders and advocates every year in Washington D.C., for training, networking, prayer and direct work with legislators.

“The theme of ‘Troubling the Waters’ is beautiful,” says Katie Thiesen, deaconess candidate from Maine, about the 2019 Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference (EAD2019) theme: “Troubling the Waters for the Healing of the World.”

“Our world is screaming to be troubled in a good way.” Sr. Dottie Almoney, chair of the Deaconess Community’s Board of Directors agrees.

“There continues to be so much suffering from colonialism, white supremacy, and misogyny. We need to find ways to eradicate these ideologies and behaviors in order to bring about healing.”

The diaconal call
For both Sr. Dottie, who became a member in 2014, and for Katie, who began her candidacy in 2018, the call to advocacy informs their ministry. 

“Advocacy is being a prophetic voice,” says Sr. Dottie. Deaconesses are called to advocate for persons on the margins of our society. This is being a prophetic voice. To see needs that others ignore.

“This may seem backward,” says Katie. “I find that the first step in advocacy is listening, listening to the pain and suffering of the world, society and all of creation.”

This is at the heart of the Deaconess Community’s view of advocacy. Advocacy is not charity.  Advocacy is understanding people or a community and partnering with them to help their voice be heard.

For Katie, this is one of the things that attracted her to the Deaconess Community.

“Sacred texts and beloved community are the light in the darkness of a world overcome with seemingly unending oppression, individualism, consumerism, and greed. Being a [Deaconess Community] candidate helped illuminate both the despair of this world and yet also the joy of participating in God and God’s kin-dom, together, here and now.”

Justice for all
Sr. Dottie and Katie consider that the plan of God’s kin-dom is for everyone to be treated justly. Katie quotes Amos 5:21-24 from the Message translation of the Bible. “Do you know what I want? I want justice — oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want.”

God demands justice for all because each person has been created by God.

“Every human being has been created in the image of God,” says Katie. “The unity of us all with God, which is another definition of justice, takes all of us then to be part of it. That is what makes justice so beautiful that it takes Every. Single. Person.”

Sr. Dottie puts it this way, “Jesus commands us to love God and love our neighbor. Loving our neighbor is advocating for their rights as children of God.”

This is something that Sr. Dottie and Katie are excited to learn more about at EAD 2019.

Sr. Dottie pointed to the Workshop, “Taking it to the Streets,” led by two pastors, the Rev. Jennifer Butler, and the Rev. Dr. Cassandra Gould. “Taking it to the Streets” educates clergy and lay leaders on how to mobilize members of their congregations and communities.

Sr. Dottie is excited about this workshop for one reason: “All Christians are called to do Advocacy.”

This does not mean that everyone is called to a picket line or to community organizing. All Christians are called to work for the justice of all their neighbors in some way.

“You can write a letter,” says Sr. Dottie. “Or, learn what bills and policies are being voted on and make your position known!”

Katie puts this into a larger picture. “All humans, including all Christians, are called to justice,” she says. Then she quotes Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, “Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love.”

Returning to her idea of justice involving everyone, Katie says that everyone can work for justice. “We all simply need to find our own place in this work – we all have a place of belonging here.”

This year EAD is holding its national gathering April 5 – April 8 in Washington DC. Sr. Dottie Almoney and Candidate Katie Thiesen will be joined at EAD 2019 by Sr. Liz Colver, Deaconess Community director of vocation and education and Sr. Noreen Stevens, directing deaconess.