LCMS deaconesses are women who are full-time professional church-workers, trained to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through a ministry of works of mercy, spiritual care, and teaching the Christian faith. “Deaconess,” from the Greek word diakonos, means “servant.” Phoebe, named in Rom. 16:1-2, was a helper to Paul and others. She often is considered the first deaconess.
Where do deaconesses serve? Today deaconesses serve primarily in three settings:
- Missions—both foreign and domestic;
- Congregations—teaching, visiting the sick and imprisoned, or serving in family or other caring ministry; and
- Institutions—serving as chaplains in hospitals, prisons, retirement communities, and facilities that care for people with developmental disabilities. In order for a deaconess to be endorsed as an LCMS institutional chaplain, she first must complete a master’s degree in theology along with four units of clinical pastoral education (CPE). As an institutional chaplain, a deaconess provides valuable spiritual care to those she encounters, complementing the Word and Sacrament ministry of an ordained pastor.
Because of the strong historic and ongoing human care component in deaconess ministry, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Deaconess Ministries maintains a consultative presence on the Deaconess Council, which was formed to enhance the coordination of training and promotional activities.
For more information or questions contact President Paavola at the district office(901) 373-1343, toll-free 866-373-1343 or email.