This Community’s organization: The highest authority within the Deaconess Community is its biennial Assembly. From among its members, the Assembly elects the Directing Deaconess and six members of the Board of Directors. Of the other five Board members, one is appointed from among the members of the Board of the Division for Ministry, through which the Deaconess Community is responsible and accountable to the ELCA.
The Deaconess Community supports its members through preparation for service and spiritual, personal, and professional growth. It aids deaconesses when seeking calls, throughout their ministry and in retirement. Support of the Community is shared through intercessory prayer, personal correspondence, telephone calls, newsletters, the biennial Assembly, and a percentage of annual contribution.
Outside our Community
Throughout the latter half of the 19th century, pastors and deaconesses came to America from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and various parts of Germany. They began hospitals and other institutions of mercy, and motherhouses in which to train deaconesses for service. In 1894 the close ties between these groups became official with the organization of the Lutheran Deaconess Conference in North America, the first inter-Lutheran agency in the land. It has been said that in the origins of every Lutheran Social Service agency in the USA one may find the name of a deaconess. Rev. W.A. Passavant opened the very first Lutheran Deaconess hospital (in fact, the first Protestant hospital in America) in Pittsburgh. In 1852, in The Missionary (his periodical) he wrote: “We have seven theological seminaries, four classic schools, five colleges for the education of our young men, and for our women two seminaries on paper. That shows what little importance is attached to the education of women. Our attitude so far in this question is neither Scriptural nor just to the female sex or the Church of Christ itself”. Passavant’s words are certainly a precursor and foundational for the attitude and work of this Deaconess Community over the years.