It’s not every day the daughter of a Muslim imam is inducted into the Sacred Order of Deacons.

Episcopalians from across the state dropped into Terre Haute for a weekend of works and one unique celebration.

In addition to other business conducted at the 173rd Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, the ordination of Fatima E. Yakubu-Madus inside the sanctuary of St. Stephen’s on North Seventh Street drew special attention Saturday.

“She’s going to be serving St. John’s at Speedway,” said the Rt. Rev. Catherine Waynick, bishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis.

Born in Nigeria, Yakubu-Madus moved to America in 1979 to attend school. Earning her undergraduate degree in math and chemistry from Kentucky State University, she went on to earn a graduate degree in pharmacology from the University of Mississippi and currently works in Indianapolis as a scientist and consultant.

And while her family practices Islam, and her father serves in the leadership role of an Imam, Yakubu-Madus converted to Christianity while living in America.

Inside the historic church, the two-hour morning service for her ordination as an Episcopal deacon included the Holy Eucharist, and served as a closing for this year’s diocese convention.

Waynick explained that within the Episcopal Church, the deacon is an ordained leadership position which helps a church focus on evangelism and outreach, make preparations for the liturgy, and often sends the flock out into the world with the closing prayer.

 Afterward, while celebrating at a reception inside The Saratoga, Yakubu-Madus said the decision to become a deacon has been part of a long process.

“I don’t know. It’s just been a long time for me,” she said, noting she’s wanted to do “something more” than just her secular job. Her father, she said, taught her to help and serve her community, something she’s done while counseling parishioners, and something she hopes to continue in her new position.

“They’re very excited for me,” she said of her family. While her Muslim relations might not know exactly what a deacon is, they do understand the ordination process, and that’s not something women get to do just anywhere in the world, she pointed out. Unfortunately, her family couldn’t make arrangements for travel to see the ceremony, but a number of friends and colleagues came from across the country, sharing in a celebratory meal later in The Saratoga. “It’s very difficult to get visas right now,” she said of her Muslim family in Nigeria.

Waynick said Yakubu-Madus was sponsored for ordination by Christ Church in downtown Indianapolis.

It’s been 20 years since the diocese has visited Terre Haute for its annual convention, and the weekend went well.

“We accomplished a lot,” she said, estimating the participation to be between 350 and 375. In addition to foreign relief projects in Sudan and Haiti, the diocese also discussed domestic affairs such as providing lap blankets and pillows to cancer patients and packing food for needy children

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.

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