WHAT IS A DEACONESS?

LCMS deaconesses are women who are 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. Because of the strong historic and ongoing human care component in deaconess ministry, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod's Deaconess Ministry works closely with LCMS deaconesses across the world.

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.

For more information, contact:

Deaconess Grace Rao
Deaconess Ministries
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
888-843-5267 or e-mail:  

The Deaconess program at Concordia Theological Seminary provides competent women with a rigorous theological education at the master's level. This training equips women for professional service in the church in such areas as counseling, social ministry, visitation of the sick and dying, and teaching the faith under the direction of the pastoral office.