Ragnheidur Sverrisdóttir never felt called to be a pastor. When she was 20, she participated in the life of what she called “a very conservative church.” Ragnheidur said, “I wasn’t happy with that—so I found another way,” adding that the church she spoke about is not as conservative as they used to be.
Churches change. People change. When Ragnheidur and her husband moved to Uppsala, Sweden, she learned about a deacon education program. While she found it too conservative for her, the notion of serving others through ministry clicked with her.
“Deacon” or "diakonia" in the original Greek language, means service to others, often with a willing attitude. As a deacon for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland, Ragnheidur also teaches other deacons. She feels very supported in her role, saying the concept is readily accepted in Nordic countries. She feels there is more work to be done: “I have been fighting for more diaconal work – to work for the neighbor and vulnerable people and also people in grief and difficult life situations. We are working on the street, I sometimes say we are middle class church.” (In the ELCA, deaconesses and deacons are rostered leaders. More information here.)
God’s grace became apparent to Ragnheidur during a 10-year bout with depression. She felt the support of others who prayed for her, and it brings her to tears to remember the pain she felt. She believes that she is able to listen and to really understand other’s struggles because of what she has gone through. “After a struggle you live your life deeper.”
While Ragnheidur doesn’t believe God caused her depression, for her, it has become a blessing, which she can now minister out of—with a more humble, and compassionate personality than she had before. She has found her way.
The logo (above) represents the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland.