Diaconia must be constantly redefined so that it remains vital, speaks out, and makes an impact
Treat others the way you wish to be treated
The word Diaconia comes from the Greek for “service”. It is based on the teachings of Jesus and love of one’s neighbour. In different denominations and in different ages, the diaconic work has been understood and arranged in different ways. The service role emerging from diaconia sends us into society in search of those who are most vulnerable and are where no other help is available. Diaconia also means building up everybody’s opportunities to be involved, to be able to use their own resources, and experience themselves as a valuable member of their community. The mission of the Helsinki Deaconess Institute in Helsinki also always makes diaconic work a social issue. The task of diaconia is not only to provide help, but also to deal with the causal factors, the systemic structures of society.
Service based on Christian love
Christian love of one’s neighbour is the dynamo of diaconia. According to the Helsinki Deaconess Institute’s notion of diaconia everyone should be helped who needs to be, and everyone has possibility. The goal of diaconia is to enable people to feel themselves to be of value and to make use of their full human potential.
Where there’s the greatest distress and humiliation
Diaconia is carried out with those who are socially excluded – amid defeat, shame, guilt, and pain. Our diaconic task is to look after those people who for various reasons are unable care for their own welfare and health. In fulfilling this task it is our responsibility is to tend to their human and material resources. Diaconia makes it possible for people to experience their own value. The acts that come about from diaconic work do not require that people have to change, as each person has intrinsic value.
No one can do it alone – it takes a community
Diaconia is work with people, not just for them. Diaconia is carried out by the Helsinki Deaconess Institute, generated by all parties involved in the activity. The community has a Christian value base, history and mission. The community of the Deaconess Institute has been entrusted with the task of carrying out deeds out of love for one’s neighbour. No one alone can shoulder the responsibility of Christian charity. Rather, the community carries out the radical diaconic requirement of caring for each and every one of us.