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 1895; the School was opened in 1910. They entered the nursing field, but not in hospitals. They were sent into the homes of the sick – as their German sisters still do.
They went to parishes to complement the pastor’s work, and entered the ‘foreign mission field’. This action by a Lutheran Church in instituting a Deaconess Community was a first for Lutheranism worldwide.
The School was for all women church workers, offering courses for parish workers, church educators, church secretaries, and pastors’ wives, as well as deaconesses and missionaries.
It continued operating until 1965, by which time deaconess candidates were attending seminaries across the country.
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...
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...