Becoming a Deaconess
For 130 years, women have served as deaconesses in the United States and Canada. Over the years, the diaconal call has continued, asking us to serve as Jesus did: to walk with those in need and to help bring healing and wholeness by using the particular gifts God gave us and developed through our professional training. We are called to be a bridge between the world and the Church.
Although there are other Lutheran deaconess associations in the United States, we are the only community rostered in the ELCA; however, the ELCA also started in 1993 the diaconal ministry program open to men and women. The ELCA has three separate lay rosters: Associates in Ministry, the Deaconess Community and Diaconal Ministers. Presently these three groups are discussing what it means to be a lay roster of Word and Service, how our calls differ, and where they are the same. It is an exciting time to walk together!
As our growing relationship with God continues to strengthen and empower us for service, the Deaconess Community aims to be a group of strong, skilled, independent and interdependent women. Not a refuge from the world but a springboard for action, community can equip and sustain us for service, but its primary purpose is to meet the needs of the world, not our own.
Formation and the Candidacy Process:
Like all the rosters in the ELCA, there are standards that deaconesses must meet prior to consecration: professional preparation, seminary education, contextual experiences, a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, and a year’s internship. Formation activities presently include attending a course on diaconal ministry, community events, and special candidate retreats. A candidate works with our Community’s Committee on Vocation and Education, as well as her synodical candidacy committee and seminary, as she completes the process and grows in understanding of her call to rostered leadership in the Deaconess Community and public ministry in the ELCA.
Ready to engage in some discerning conversation?
If you feel called to serve as a Deaconess, please contact us for further information and an application packet. We would welcome an opportunity to share in conversation, answer your questions, or connect you with your synod and other partners as you continue to discern your call.
Email: Sister Krista Anderson, Director of Vocation and Education
The Deaconess Community
8765 West Higgins Road, Suite 405
Chicago, Illinois 60631
1-800-638-3522 / ext 1705