Diakonia UCA

The portal for Deacons in the Uniting Church in Australia

Diakonia UCA header image 3



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.

Facebook page – look for ‘DUCA’ (closed group) and request an invite if you’re a UCA Deacon, Deacon candidate or retired Deaconess. 

November 2019

Rev (Deacon) Casey Lau, in placement at Yilki UC (SA) with the SA UCA Synod Moderator, Rev Sue Ellis, celebrating 100 year anniversary of the congregation. 

August 2019
An article celebrating 40 years of ministry for Rev Jan Chalmers (Qld Synod) was published in Journey. Congratulations, Jan!
A snippet of the article, as Jan reflects on her ministry
I was ordained as a deaconess in the Queensland Synod on 30 November 1979 in the Morningside Uniting Church, Brisbane. With the renewal of the diaconate, I was then accredited as a deacon in St David’s Uniting Church, Coopers Plains on 13 December, 1992.
I was called to chaplaincy with Blue Nursing (Brisbane Central) from 1993 to the end of 2004. The remaining period before my retirement in August 2007 was in the position of Blue Care Chaplaincy Educator.
Over the many years I have offered leadership among the people of the Uniting Church in a ministry of service to the world, exercised in the way of Jesus Christ, on whose ministry my ministry is modelled – justice, reconciliation and compassion.
In many ways I have been a pioneer and educator in community development and service programs. Along with parishioners, I established the Balmoral Uniting Community Centre and the St David’s Uniting Church Neighbourhood Centre. At the time of writing, both these centres are still operating.
These centres stand alongside those who are disadvantaged, oppressed, lonely or isolated, offering friendship, hospitality and community. My call to be an advocate of justice often leads to raising issues with the local community, councillors, and state and federal Members of Parliament.

May 2019
Next month (June), the DRAE (DIAKONIA Region of Africa and Europe) Assembly will take place in Edinburgh, with guest speaker John Bell. Rev Sandy Boyce (President, DIAKONIA World Federation) was able to attend. 
(A number of UCA Deacons are attending the DAP – DIAKONIA Asia Pacific) Regional Conference in Fiji in July. In August, Sandy will be attending the DOTAC gathering – DIAKONIA of the Americas and Caribbean), and Chris Booth (Deacon candidate from Vic/Tas Synod) has registered to attend, along with Rev Jesse Size and Chelsea Size, Deacon candidate)

Geoff Wellington concluded his placement in the Canberra Region Presbytery with a service on 18th May. He will be commencing a new placement with Saltbush – Uniting the Scattered Community (rural congregations), based out of Brucedale (Wagga Wagga).  

February 2019

Deacons Continuing Education/Deacon Intensive
Several Deacons joined the Deacon candidates for Day 1 and Day 2 of the Deacon Intensive, with input on Day 1 from Karen Paull (Lane Cove Chaplaincy), Sandy Boyce (issues and challenges for diaconal ministry) and Jon O’Brien (Advocacy Training). On Day 2, participants spent time with Graham Anson at Bondi Wayside Chapel and then visited Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross before sharing a meal at The Rocks. (The Deacon Intensive runs from Monday 11th Feb until Friday 15th Feb). 

Deacons and Deacon candidates at the DUCA Business meeting, 9th Feb 2019

The DUCA Business meeting took place on Saturday 9th February in Sydney with attendance by Deacons and Deacon candidates.  The State reports were presented. 

Also, on Saturday 9th February, a service of thanksgiving for Catherine Ritchie House (which has now been sold) took place in Victoria, organised by Margaret Allan, Helen Jackson and Gavin Blakemore. (more photos on DUCA Facebook page).
Here is Sandy’s letter to the gathering. DUCA.CatherineRitchieHouse thanksgiving service

CRH 1937-2018 History Narration

January 2019

Deaconess Myra Gebhardt (NSW) died on 10th January 2019. A snapshot of her ministry is available on this link. 

December 2018

Rev Liz Dyson

Liz was ordained on 9th December 2018. There were a number of SA Deacons on hand to celebrate with her, as well as a large number of people representing many aspects of Liz’s life – family, church, chaplains, CPE colleagues etc.  
(Pictured with Liz are some of the SA Deacons present at her ordination – Rev Christa Megaw, Rev Judy Knowling, Rev Sue Langhans, Rev Sandy Boyce, Rev Susan Wickham, Rev Scott Litchfield, and Deacon candidate Olly Ponsonby. Rev Sil Hein was also present but not in the photo)

Lenten resource 2019
Chris Booth (Deacon candidate) has been working on a Lenten resource. It looks GREAT! Free to download. Daily reflections and activites at the end of each week, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Day. Some of the weekly activities could be incorporated into creative worship activities.
(Thanks, Chris!)

November 2018

Oliver (Olly) Ponsonby, new candidate for Ministry of Deacon

A new Deacon candidate – Oliver (Olly) Ponsonby from South Australia. Congratulations! Olly has been serving in a prison chaplaincy placement.

Very exciting news about the DAP (DIAKONIA Asia Pacific) Regional Conference planned for July 8th-12th, 2019. It will be held in Fiji. Thanks to the generosity of the hosts, the Methodist Deaconess Association (MDO) in Fiji, the costs to participants is the airfare to Nadi, and the accommodation. The food and program costs will be covered by the generosity of the hosts.
The brochure outlines the key information. If you’re interested in going, you can provide the details required on the registration form which will include your accommodation option. Please remember to pay the cost of the bank transaction so the MDO is not covering this extra expense.
Deacon candidates may also discuss whether attendance might be counted towards their formation and academic requirements and see if there is any funding to cover their attendance.
DAP Regional Conference 2019.web.final

The DRAE (Africa Europe) and DOTAC (Americas and Caribbean) regions are also hosting regional conferences, and would be open to anyone from DAP/DUCA attending. Check out the DIAKONIA World website for links to each one.

October 2018
Chris Booth (Vic/Tas Synod) has been selected as a candidate for the Ministry of Deacon. Congratulations Chris. On his blog, Chris reflects: ‘My sense throughout the Period of Discernment’ has been that what I need to be doing is spending time near the boundaries of the church and out in the wider world, where people are engaging with and responding to the stories of our world. (I think that fits within the scope of the Uniting Church’s understanding of what a deacon does)’. Absolutely!
Chris has been involved for many years with the Indigenous Hospitality House in North Carlton, a Christian community house that offers rooms for Indigenous families who have come from out of town to support a family member in hospital. The community also makes space for Settler people to rethink Australian and Christian identity in light of our colonial history. A book has been published, Tales from the Table – a collation of stories from the Indigenous Hospitality House.


UCA Deacons Sophie Lizares, Sandy Boyce and Christa Megaw

4th National UCA Filipino National Conference (Melbourne, 19-21 October 2018)
Three Deacons have been at the Filipino NC – Rev Christa Megaw, Rev Sophie Lizares, and Rev Sandy Boyce. Sophie is Filipino by birth and has been part of the planning team for the conference, with excellent upfront leadership and facilitation skills. Sandy and Christa have been involved in the Philippines Support Group (SA) for many years, especially focussed on the Middle Luzon Jurisdiction (MLJ) and North Luzon Jurisdiction (NLJ) of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. Sandy and Christa have visited the Philippines on a number of occasions, and have enjoyed the opportunity to connect with the Filipino Diaspora at the National Conference.

UCA Assembly Circles of Interest – Working for Justice
The UCA Assembly has established a number of ‘Circles of Interest‘. At the August Assembly Standing Committee meeting, Rev (Deacon) Bea Skippen was appointed as a panel member of the Working for Justice Circle. Congratulations, Bea. We look forward to news about what is happening in this Circle.
The official description of the Working for Justice Circle: “Central to the identity of the Uniting Church is a commitment to pursue a just and peaceful world. As Christians we believe that all people are precious and that we are called to follow the example of Jesus to love one another. The Working for Justice Circle provides a space to live out this calling to be a prophetic voice for justice in our church, our communities and our world. Circle members will be informed about, engage with and contribute to how the Uniting Church pursues social and economic justice, human rights, peace and care for the environment. There will be a particular focus on climate change and refugees and asylum seekers as two key areas of concern for the Uniting Church. The Circle will support the work of the Assembly to encourage wider theological reflection and action on issues of social justice. Collaboration, sharing and joint action will be a major feature for this Circle, both across the Church and with others who are also committed to working for justice”.

Deaconess Lorna Stevenson (20 June 1922 – 19 September 2016)
In the process of updating the DUCA membership list it was noted that Lorna had passed away in 2016. She had been resident at Old Timers in Alice Springs since 1980 and had remained actively involved in the John Flynn Memorial Church. Peter Jones, General Secretary of the Northern Synod, provided a brief overview of her life and ministry which can be read here.

August 2018

June 2018

Congratulations to Rev Deac Marion Gledhill who was named in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday honours for service to the Uniting Church in Australia, and to social welfare.

Rev Angie Griffin (SA) begins a new placement in Henty Region-Grange cluster in western Victoria in June 2018.

Patrol Ministry
Interested to discover this archived article about Rev Deacon Des Cousens’ patrol ministry in Tasmania,  printed in Crosslight February 2016.

May 2018
Congratulations to Jesse Size who was ordained a Deacon on 12th May 2018 at Port Augusta. He is pictured here with the SA Moderator, Rev Sue Ellis.

Rev Michelle Cook is on the move. After five years in wonderful Tasmania Michelle is moving to Darwin in January 2019. She has accepted a call to Nungalinya College.

March 2018
Pastor Liz Dyson, Deacon candidate, conducted a wedding this month.

Very exciting that Alan Maratja Dhamarrandji was ordained into the Ministry of Deacon on Sunday 18th March 2018 at Galiwin’ku. Please pray for Maratja and his community.

Rev (Deacon) Alan Maratja Dhamarrandji and Rev (Deacon) Felicity Amery, Pilgrim Presbytery Minister.

Rev Aimee Kent was inducted into Kippax Uniting Church on Saturday 10th March 2018 at 2pm, where she will be working in a 50% Community Relationships placement. She will continue her work with Grace, the Goulburn New Faith Community to foster new creative forms of Church.

Rev Sophie Lizares was ordained as a Deacon at Willetton Uniting Church on Saturday 3 March. Having come to Australia from the Philippines, Sophie was raised in the Catholic church and was a leader in the ecumenical youth and student movement, passionate about working for justice.
Sophie worked for the Catholic Bishops Conference in the Philippines and was the founding Executive Director and Editor of a weekly newspaper. She has completed two Masters theses’; one in social development and the other in ministry. During this time she became involved with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, a Uniting Church partner church.
Sophie then became engaged internationally with the Christian Conference of Asia and the World Council of Churches. In 2000 she was elected into the Council of the United Evangelical Mission which is made up of churches from Asia, Africa and Germany, and in 2003 she was appointed Asia Secretary, consulting with 11 church denominations in Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
God’s call on Sophie’s life eventually led her to Western Australia, and she began her journey to ordained ministry in the Uniting Church WA in 2014. During her formation, Sophie undertook supervised field placements at All Saints Floreat Uniting Church, Port Hedland Uniting Church, UnitingCare West’s Tranby Centre and Juniper. She is now working as the Chaplain at UnitingCare West.
Click here to read the article, and to view pictures from the service.

Rev Miriam Parker-Lacey was inducted into the shared placement of St Columba’s and Canberra City Uniting Churches. We particularly look forward to Miriam helping the congregations implement the plans developed during the Intentional Interim Ministry process by encouraging fresh expressions of church and closer ties with the Australian National University.

STIRLING, Jean Claire (Rev. Deacon), passed away peacefully on 17 January 2018. Aged 76 years. Jean lived in Adelaide but was originally from Ipswich, Qld. (Jean is pictured above at an ordination service, second row, second from right).
Jean was a pioneer of diaconal ministry in the Uniting Church in Australia. Jean was a faithful servant of the church. We give thanks to God for her dedicated and compassionate ministry. The SA UCA Moderator Rev Sue Ellis wrote: ‘At the age of 21 years, Jean experienced a strong sense of call and began Diaconal studies in Queensland. Health issues put her studies on hold, and she worked 11 years as Secretary to the Central Methodist Mission in Brisbane. In this time, she helped with the establishment of the Blue Nursing Service (now Blue Care), aged care homes, and a community centre at the Mission. Her secretarial gifts were put to further use when she moved to the Methodist National Memorial Church in Canberra. It was during those five years that the call to ministry came again.
She returned to Queensland and was the first to train for the Diaconate, alongside those preparing to be Ministers of the Word, at Trinity Theological College.
Jean’s first appointment as Deaconess was to Aitkenville Uniting Church in Townsville in February 1981, as part of the ministry team. As a Deaconess, she specialised in music and worship leading, began a healing group, and offered pastoral care to hospitals, aged care and to homeless girls.
In 1986, Jean was called to the Glenelg Parish in South Australia where she began a similar work, developing a College for Seniors. In this time she became the organiser of the meetings of the Diaconate in South Australia.
On 21 February 1993, Jean was accredited as a Deacon at St Andrew’s Uniting Church Glenelg, following the Assembly decision to accept the Ministry of Deacon as an ordained role within the Uniting Church in Australia. She chose to take the title Deacon, and could then conduct Holy Communion.
This opened the way to her appointment as the Coordinating Chaplain to the Helping Hand Centre at North Adelaide. Her chaplaincy was across aged communities at Parafield Gardens, Ingle Farm, Port Pirie, Barryne Retirement Village at Belair, and the independent living units in Prospect. She was also the minister to the congregation at the North Adelaide aged care complex.
Jean retired at the end of 2001, but kept a keen interest in the Diaconate and the life of the Uniting Church. Her astute mind, pastoral gifts of listening and patience, and her good humour ensured she made lasting friendships with many people across the life of the Church. She called the diaconate “a treasure given to the church”. Jean has been part of that treasure to the South Australian Presbytery and Synod.


Karen Mitchell-Lambert is on the move. She has concluded her ministry role at Castle Hill UC and will take on a new role as a Presbytery Church Engagement Leader to help Uniting Churches in western Sydney with mission and community development. Blessings to Karen and her family in this time of transition.

UCA Deacon Conference

Deacon Intensive participants 2017

Deacons Conference 2016 – a field visit to Northcote UC/Chalice, with Rev Peter Batten. (Back row: Sandy Boyce SA, Peter Batten Vic/Tas, Mandy Blacker Vic. Front row: Michelle Shumack Qld, Francis Hadfield WA, Jenny Preston Vic/Tas, Andrew Nankivell SA, Christa Megaw SA, Cogs Smith SA, Bev Fabb WA)


Rev Nigel McBrien

October 2016
Congratulations to Rev Nigel McBrien, ordained on 23rd October 2016. Nigel’s placement is a continuing one as a chaplain with UnitingAge Well, in the Rosetta community. Part of greater Hobart area.

September 2016
Congratulations to Rev Sue Pickering who was inducted into ministry at Leichhardt Uniting Church (Sydney), 11th September 2016.


August 2016
Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 8.48.42 pm
Rev Bill Harris has written an article about his recent trip to Warruwi (South Goulburn Island) for the centenary of missionary activities that commenced in the region in 1916. It was a significant day for many people who had worked in Warruwi and Arnhem Land mission communities over many years.

Congratulations to Rev David Nix (Queensland)
David was ordained on Sunday 28th August 2016. David is serving in a chaplaincy placement at Wesley Hospital, Brisbane. Congratulations, and blessings for your ministry!

DUCA Qld.David Nix

Deacons and Deacon candidates will be receiving a mailing in the last week of August with a flyer for the DUCA Conference, and a registration form. They are also attached here, and will be uploaded also in the ‘2017 DUCA Conference’ page (usual password – contact Sandy if you don’t know the password).

duca 2017 brochure        duca rego 2017c

Position vacant – Western Australia
Applications are invited for a Minister of the Word/Deacon to fill a vacant placement with the Albany Regional Congregations, comprising Albany, Lockyer (suburban Albany), Denmark and Mt Barker Uniting Churches. This single ministry placement is supported by a willing team of lay leaders, lay preachers and committed congregations. Click here for more info. For more info email Rev John Barendrecht at john.barendrecht@wa.uca.org.au.

Congratulations to Deacon candidate Alan Dhamarrandji, ATSI Mediator of the Year.Maratja

July 2016
Rev. Ann Hewson has concluded her placement at Kenmore Uniting Church. She has gone to Yeppoon to join her husband Michael who is now working at the University. Ann will be working as a Primary School Chaplain. KUC held a morning tea to say goodbye on 3rd July.

ann hewson

Rev Ann Hewson

July 2016
Judy Sanderson is to be ordained and inducted as a Deacon at Applecross Uniting Church on Sunday 7 August at 3 pm. Deacons in Western Australia are encouraged to be there to support Judy, and all may send their messages of support to Judy. Blessings, Judy, in this time of preparation for your ordination and placement.
Judy grew up in Dallas and migrated to Perth after marrying an ‘Aussie’. In 2008, Judy was welcomed into Maylands-Mount Lawley Uniting Church where she became the Church Council secretary and also served as an Elder. “I heard so many wonderful stories of life in Australia (that happened) before I was even born,” said Judy.
Working at Clontarf Aboriginal College (2008-2011) she found that much of her time involved pastoral care. “Students were brought to me when they were homesick and when they were worried about family members. It was during this time that I began to sense that God was calling me to specific ministry,” said Judy.
Judy attended an ‘Explore the ministry day’. “A ray of light hit me when Rev Emma Matthews spoke. The words she used to describe a Deacon as a sign of the presence of God in the everyday world. Caring for and serving others. These words described my journey. “The sense of call was too strong to ignore. The next week, I applied to enter a period of discernment.”
The WA Synod/Presbytery received Judy’s approval of ordination with a standing ovation and the moderator, Rev Steve Francis led in prayer thanking God for Judy’s many gifts and graces that we see in her.


Judy (centre) in February 2015

July 2016 – Interim Director of Education and Formation (WA) appointment
Rev Bev Fabb has been appointed as Interim Director of Education and Formation in Western Australia until 31 December 2016. She will be responsible for planning a Synod-wide approach to theological education in preparation for the appointment of a full-time director of Education and Formation.
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

Pat Baker image.lowres

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.