The Calls of Deaconesses

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, and intentional communal discernment. As rostered leaders, deaconesses are committed and connected to the ministry of their community, congregation, synod, and the larger church.

The work of those called to the diaconate is not always very clearly articulated, and deaconesses are often asked in what ways they are called to ministry. While all baptized members of the Christian faith are called into lives of love and service, rostered deaconesses and others who are called to the diaconate are called to leadership in the formation, education, and empowerment of the baptized.

Accordingly, though all deaconesses have discerned their call as one that engages people of the church and world together, they work in a wide variety of settings, depending on their spiritual gifts and training. Deaconesses serve out this vocation as teachers, counselors, administrators, health professionals, Christian educators, youth workers, information specialists, ecumenists, and more. They serve in congregations, synod offices, hospitals, social service agencies, outdoor ministries, caring institutions, universities, and beyond.


Meet four of our deaconesses and learn about their discernment and formation process:

Rostered diaconal service is at the forefront of Christian ministry in a rapidly-evolving world. The Deaconess Community of the ELCA/ELCIC recognizes the exciting, vital opportunities to discern expansively about what it is to be called to Christ’s service. Together with the church at large, we support women in their unique exploration of the Spirit’s call to them.


Calling a Deaconess

For those wishing to extend a call to a deaconess, learn more about this process here ( Deaconesses are eligible to receive a call from non-congregational agencies through the synod in which the agency is located. All calling agencies are strongly encouraged to refer to the compensation guidelines set forth by the ELCA or ELCIC for any and all rostered leaders.

As theologically-formed servant leaders, deaconesses answer a wide range of calls that meet the criteria of engaging people in connecting their faith with everyday living. They are often called to be public ministers and representatives of the church in places and spaces that don’t always look or feel “religious.” At the same time, as deaconesses often engage spaces where the church doesn’t normally have access, we are called to be prophetic voices to the church for the world outside its walls and activate the faith proclaimed. Therefore it is also not unusual that deaconess may also be called to serve in a congregational setting. Deaconesses can be called to serve wherever the needs of the world can be met by the faith we choose to live out and represent!

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