Word and Service Ministry
What is a Ministry of Word and Service?
- Associates in Ministry are called and commissioned for service in congregations, agencies, schools and institutions of the ELCA. Their primary areas of service are education, youth, spiritual formation, campus ministry, outdoor ministry, music and the arts, administration, service and general ministry.
- ELCA Deaconesses are called and consecrated, and serve in congregations, agencies and institutions of the ELCA. They are members of the Deaconess Community of the ELCA, and participate in the life of that community.
- ELCA Diaconal Ministers are called and consecrated, and serve in congregations, agencies and institutions of the ELCA. Their focus for ministry is the extension of the church’s ministry of witness and care into the world.
Choosing a J-Term Diaconal Ministry Course
Each year the Deaconess Community and ELCA Center for Diaconal Ministry Preparation offer two separate events for diaconal candidates. Recently, both have taken place in January but each on a different seminary campus. Although the programs include an intensive study of diaconal ministry, they have different objectives and requirements. Some students and those who advise them have expressed confusion about which program better meets the needs of the individual inquirer. In an effort to clarify the differences for students and synod and seminary staff, we have prepared the following brief descriptions. Download J-Term Course Descriptions
ELCA Consultation Examines Future of Word and Service Leadership
The future of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's professional public ministers of Word and service — associates in ministry, deaconesses and diaconal ministers — was the focus of an ELCA consultation in February in Delray Beach, Fla. The central question some 64 participants discussed was how the theology and experience of vocation and service should shape the 21st century roles of these ELCA leaders. Word and service ministries are based on the concept of "diakonia," or unconditional service to the neighbor in need.... continue reading
Consultation on Vocation & Service
February 5-8, 2007, there was a Consultation on Vocation and Service that brought together some 60 people from all the ELCA rosters. The purpose was to help members of the three lay rosters articulate how the theology and experience of vocation and service should define their role as publicly called leaders in the ELCA in the 21st Century.
Listed below are the four short documents that consultation participants were invited to read in advance.
Articles on Word and Service Ministry
- Roster of Associates in Ministry by the Rev. Lowell Almen
This October 2008 article traces the origins and development of the roster of Associates in Ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
- FACETS (Articles from Rostered Lay Ministers)
- "Associate in Ministry" by Phyllis Castens Wiederhoeft
I am an associate in ministry and currently serve as an assistant to the Bishop in the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin. I have served in this position since August 1988.
- "Deaconess" by Carol Burk
My letter of call says that I am director of learning ministry at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Columbia, South Carolina. Quite simply, I am a Christian educator. I am responsible for all of the educational activities in the congregation.
- "Diaconal Minister" by Phillip R. Deming
There is a soft, quiet, but resolute click in the sound of a steel door closing firmly in the locked unit of a psychiatric facility. The sound of a door shutting. Metallic echoes of the rejection felt by many struggling with mental illness who have been shut out from the faith practices of their youth. Individuals who are forgotten when shifts change, and those with the keys of access go home.
- The Diaconal Ministry in Lutheran Churches provides further reflections on diaconal ministry, published by a 2005 LWF consultation in São Leopoldo, Brazil.
- "Equipping and Encouraging Laity" by Nelvin L. Vos and Melvin D. George
Congregations are finding ways to support the laity in their callings. Here are 23 ideas.
- "Past, Present, and Future" by James Mahler
This is my 15th and final Facets column written for Lutheran Partners. My retirement and new role as Professor Emeritus at California Lutheran University will occasion a change in authorship for this column directed to rostered lay ministers whose calling is to teach and lead ELCA early-childhood and elementary-school programs. My new role as one of the twin tenders for twin granddaughters whose parents are Minnesota pastors is renewing another whole set of skills.
- "Prophetic Diakonia", a paper developed by a 2002 Lutheran World Federation consultation in South Africa, interprets the shape of diakonia (service) for the Christian church today.
- "Who We Are" by Carol L. Schickel
Significant ministries are being carried out on behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America through the service of almost 900 active leaders who are called to serve as associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers (there are approximately 300 retired workers).