Before the summer of 1884, John Lankenau’s friend and fellow hospital board member, the German Consul in Philadelphia, Charles H. Meyer, traveled to Germany to inquire about the availability of deaconesses from Kaiserwerth motherhouse and other motherhouses to staff the German Hospital.
No deaconesses were available.
Consul Meyer heard about the deaconesses at Iserlohn, and Lankenau later wrote to their directing sister and convinced them to come to America to take over the German Hospital, of which he was president.
He finally found seven deaconesses from a small sisterhood in Iserlohn who agreed to come.
These seven women literally cleaned up the Hospital, and with Lankenau’s financial help, entered into parish work, started a school for girls and a kindergarten, began a convalescent home for the aging, and established a Motherhouse for deaconesses, all within a decade of their arrival in Philadelphia.
The Motherhouse was eventually moved to Gladwyne (outskirts of Philadelphia) in 1953, a building donated by the Pew family of Philadelphia.
In 1889, just five years after the arrival of the Philadelphia sisters, the General Synod of the Lutheran Church (USA) created a Board of Deaconess Work, designating deaconesses as persons holding an “office of the church”. They opened a Motherhouse in Baltimore in...read more
In 1836, in Germany Pastor Theodor Fliedner and his wife Friedericke Műnster, using the story of New Testament Phoebe (Romans 16:1), the example of Mennonite deaconesses in Holland, the work of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul and the work of Wichern...read more