LCMS deaconesses are women who are full-time professional church-workers, trained to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through a ministry of works of mercy, spiritual care, and teaching the Christian faith. "Deaconess," from the Greek word diakonos, means "servant." Phoebe, named in Rom. 16:1-2, was a helper to Paul and others. She often is considered the first deaconess.
Where do deaconesses serve?
Today deaconesses serve primarily in three settings:
- missions—both foreign and domestic;
- congregations—teaching, visiting the sick and imprisoned, or serving in family or other caring ministry; and
- institutions—serving as chaplains in hospitals, prisons, retirement communities, and facilities that care for people with developmental disabilities. In order for a deaconess to be endorsed as an LCMS institutional chaplain, she first must complete a master's degree in theology along with four units of clinical pastoral education (CPE). As an institutional chaplain, a deaconess provides valuable spiritual care to those she encounters, complementing the Word and Sacrament ministry of an ordained pastor.
Because of the strong historic and ongoing human care component in deaconess ministry, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod's Deaconess Ministries maintains a consultative presence on the Deaconess Council, which was formed to enhance the coordination of training and promotional activities.
- Click here to listen to Deaconess Grace Rao's interview on KFUO Radio's "His Time" program. Deaconess Rao, director of LCMS Deaconess Ministry, and Deaconess Tiffany Manor, staff with Lutheran Church Charities, talk about what a deaconesses is and what she does. The deaconesses also share about their recent trip to Liberia, Africa, providing training and teaching about opportunities for women to serve in the church as deaconesses.
For more information, please contact:
Deaconess Grace Rao
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod