Deaconesses Consecrated at Assembly 2018

May 31, 2018
Sophia Agtarap is consecrated as a United Methodist Deaconess by Bishop Gregory V. Palmer during the United Methodist Women Assembly 2018.

Submitted by Tara Barnes
Editor, Response Magazine, United Methodist Women

Sophia Agtarap is consecrated as a United Methodist Deaconess by Bishop Gregory V. Palmer during the United Methodist Women Assembly 2018.

​“Called to Be What for God’s World?” was the theme of the deaconess consecration service May 18 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, part of Assembly 2018. Twenty-four women from 19 conferences were consecrated for a lifetime of lay servant ministry in relationship with The United Methodist Church.

Deaconesses are laywomen who have responded to the call of God to full-time ministries of love, justice and service. Their life-giving work provides support and dignity to those in need and helps individuals and communities reach their full potential.          

“Deaconesses and home missioners today, as throughout their history, serve in many areas of need, in places where the church has not been, was not aware it should be or was afraid or unwilling to be,” said Deaconess Megan Hale to open the service. “Their daily task of serving and empowering is a visible symbol of the link between the church and the world.” Hale is the executive for candidacy for United Methodist Women’s Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner.

Answering a call

Individuals consecrated and commissioned to the Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner in The United Methodist Church form a covenant community in service as a lay order. After discerning a call to lay ministry, deaconesses and home missioners (laymen) finish a course of study to ensure biblical, theological and sociological grounding in their ministries. They are consecrated and commissioned full-time mission-oriented service as part of the lay diaconate.

“The first time I read a brochure about the deaconess calling, in the early 1990s, I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me,” said newly consecrated deaconess and photojournalist Laurel Akin. “Years later I attended a discernment event and learned more about the wide varieties of ways deaconesses and home missioners work in ministries of love, justice and service.”

Deaconesses consecrated on Friday will serve in such various vocations as parish nurses, social services, photojournalism and Christian education in various communities across the country.

“Once I learned more about the deaconess home missioner order, I knew I had found something special,” said Deaconess Sophia Agtarap, Director of Communications for Vanderbilt University in Brentwood, Tennessee. “I see deaconesses and home missioners as this misfit group of committed laypeople who seek to serve God and neighbor through unique and mundane and extraordinary ministries of love, justice and service—and that gives me so much hope for the church and world in this very fractured and polarized time we’re living in.”

Bishops Gregory Palmer of the West Ohio Conference, in which Assembly 2018 took place, and retired Bishop Ann Sherer-Simpson took part in the consecration service.

“I am excited to shine God's light into dark places of the world. It is a humbling opportunity to help ease pain, encourage others, educate communities, and make the world a better place as a deaconess,” said Deaconess Corinna Sisk-Casson. I am blown away that God wants me to do.”

Deaconess consecrated at Assembly: 

Sophia Kristina Remorca Agtarap 
Brentwood, Tennessee
Tennessee Conference
Director of Communications, Vanderbilt University
Laurel O’Connor Akin
Enterprise, Alabama
Alabama-West Florida Conference
Hazel Boatwright
Laurinburg, North Carolina
North Carolina Conference
Guidance Coordinator, Partners in Ministry
Cynthia Campbell
Powder Springs, Georgia
North Georgia Conference
Legacy Program leader, Cobb County Senior Services
Corrina Sisk-Casson
Johnson City, Tennesee
Holston Conference
Karen Cheek
Burlington, North Carolina
North Carolina Conference
Court navigator, Family Abuse Services of Alamance County
Irene DeMaris
Washington, D.C.
Baltimore-Washington Conference
Associate director, Center for Public Theology, Wesley Theological Seminary
Debra DeMerritt
White Plains, New York
New York Conference
Senior Social Services, Westchester County Adult Protective Services
Barbara Ellen Drake
Havertown, Pennsylvania
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference
Parish nurse, Union United Methodist Church
Celeste Monique Eubanks
Mobile, Alabama
Alabama-West Florida Conference
Director of leadership strategies, Alabama-West Florida Conference Office
Allison Kahn Francesco
Beach Lake, Pennsylvania 
Susquehanna Conference
8th grade English and language arts teacher, Wallenpaupack Area School District
Laurie Ann Fujinami
Denver, Colorado
Rocky Mountain Conference
Program analyst, mental health services, VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System 

Catherine Cecilia Inserra
Wilmette, Illinois
Northern Illinois Conference
Director of Christian formation and youth ministry, Trinity United Methodist Church
Kimberly King
Goldston, North Carolina
North Carolina Conference
Community Health Advocate, Goldston United Methodist Church
Kelly Tazuko Marciales
Palmer, Alaska
Alaska Conference
Executive director and community organizer, Valley Interfaith Action
Fawn Saylor McCallister
Fawn Grove, Pennsylvania
Susquehanna Conference
Community outreach coordinator, Cross Roads Ministerium
Sharon Gollery McCart
Pasadena, California
California-Pacific Conference
Global Ministries Global Health 
and DisAbility Ministries, California-Pacific Conference
Judith Marie Pierre-Okerson
Miramar, Florida
Florida Conference
Teacher, Miami County Public Schools
Connie Pilkington
Columbus, Ohio
West Ohio Conference
Store manager, Westside Free Store Ministry
Amy Reimer
Wilmette, Illinois
Northern Illinois Conference
Financial secretary, Trinity United Methodist Church
Sylvia Sekle-Dueh
Charlotte, North Carolina
Western North Carolina Conference
Health and wellness ministry, Hickory Grove United Methodist Church
Susan Silhan
Watkins Glen, NY
Upper New York Conference
Program and team facilitator, Fresh Start Wellness and Healing
Lynn Swedberg
Spokane, Washington
Pacific Northwest Conference
Occupational therapist, Lakeland Village, 
and disability consultant, DisAbility Ministries Committee, Global Ministries
Diana Taylor Woods
Buda, Texas
Rio Texas Conference
Community Partner Program, Buda United Methodist Church