Equipping the Saints
God’s creative activity encompasses all people and their education, and the redeeming gospel of Jesus Christ gives the Church a distinctive mandate in education. (From the ELCA Social Statement on Our Calling in Education, August 10, 2007.)
Consider this your personal invitation to live out this mandate as an instructor or program coordinator for Diakonia.
To find a program near you, click here.
To get information on how to start a program in your area, email Ellen J. Lindemann, National Chairperson.
For a look at how one deacon brought the Diakonia program to Chicago, read on.
God’s Work, My Hands?!!
by Deacon Rebecca Dahlstrom, Metro Chicago Synod
When I moved to Chicago from New York in 1998, I never planned to start the diakonia program in the synod. For those of you who are not familiar with Diakonia, it is a lay education program that has been around for over 30 years. Diakonia is a transformational program that focuses on spiritual development and faith formation. Started by Stephen Bouman and others, the goal of the program was to take message of the font and the table (altar) out the front door of the church into the community.
Since it has started in the Metropolitan Chicago synod, it has changed the lives of over 150 people, but it very nearly didn’t happen. I went through the Diakonia crucible in New York and came out the other side a completely changed person; revitalized in my faith and ready to work in the church. I helped with the Diakonia program in New York, but knew it did not exist in Chicago. When I moved here, I planned to find a new church home and volunteer. One day, I prayed that God would help me find a place in Chicago where I would feel Christian fellowship and a part of God’s work here on Earth. God shocked me by responding to my prayer by telling me to start the Diakonia program here in Chicago. Over 15 years later, I still can’t believe what has been achieved but my prayer was surely answered. The fellowship of the Diakonia program has been a blessing in my life. I believe this is truly a case of God using someone to achieve something. I can’t believe he used me; but I am grateful and blessed because of it.
I started with the synod office, which from the bishop on down gave their blessing to starting the program (you angels know who you are)! I made a few cold phone calls to pastors who miraculously didn’t hang up on me, but instead said ‘yes, I’ll teach’ (a few of whom are still involved after all these years). Even more unexplainable was the interest and commitment of the six original class members. To this day, I wonder how the word got out enough to have those original people sign up. Since then, we have had about 150 people complete the program. Each one is a miracle in their own way. They have done some amazing things after finishing the program from church leadership to taking communion to homebound people; helping with prison ministries to teaching Sunday school. A few have gone on to become pastors, deacons, deaconesses, and AIMS. They are an awesome spirit-filled group of people who I am proud to know. They represent the Diakonia program well in the synod.