Calling a Deaconess

As rostered leaders in the ELCA or ELCIC, deaconesses work in partnership with their synods to receive calls through congregations, synods or other authorized calling bodies. Congregations may extend a call to a deaconess through a congregational vote in partnership with the synod. Calling agencies are encouraged to refer to the compensation guidelines set forth by the ELCA or ELCIC for rostered leaders.

Non-congregational agencies may extend a call to a deaconess through the synod in which the agency is located. An agency may still submit a letter of call to the deaconess and is encouraged to refer to compensation guidelines for rostered leaders in the ELCA or ELCIC.

Benefits of Calling a Deaconess

A deaconess has been prepared by the church for public ministry of word and service, which has included candidacy formation, theological training, contextual and practical internship formation. As rostered leaders, deaconesses are committed and connected to the ministry of their community, congregation, synod and the larger church.

A deaconess can serve a congregation through:

  • Education
  • Parish administration
  • Music ministry
  • Pastoral support
  • Pastoral care
  • Mission/outreach
  • Redevelopment
  • Youth and Family
  • Any other area of congregational ministry
  • A deaconess can serve the community through:
  • Educational institutions
  • Community non-profit organizations
  • Social service agencies
  • Social ministry agencies
  • Health-care agencies
  • Any other agency where the needs of people are being addressed

Deaconesses bring the passion of the gospel to their active engagement with those in need.

Finding a Deaconess

Bishops and synod staff who work with mobility and call can connect congregations, agencies and institutions with deaconesses available for call. The Deaconess Community and Regional Coordinators can also connect congregations and agencies with deaconesses.

What’s the difference between a Deaconess, a Diaconal Minister and an Associate in Ministry in the ELCA?

Leaders on all three ELCA Word and Service rosters bring unique gifts to their ministries. What sets a Deaconess apart is her membership in the Deaconess Community, a distinct community of women with a parallel candidacy process, their own Board of Directors, and their own organizational structure. This Community provides each woman with spiritual and communal support as she lives into her mission and ministry.

If you are interested in calling a deaconess, contact us at