Baltimore Motherhouse of Deaconesses
Created with flickr slideshow.
After the creation of the Board of Deaconess Work (BDW) for the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States, attention turned to generating interest among young General Synod women for diaconal work. An advertisement appeared in the February 27, 1891, issue of the church’s paper, The Lutheran Observer,
seeking young women interested in the diaconate.
By 1895, six women Lucy Eyster, Augusta Schaffer, Jennie Christ, Emma Steen, Lugarda Wilhelm, Sophia Jepson, and Magdalene Kasewurm were ready to begin work as consecrated deaconesses. Six others were accepted for training. Attention turned to providing the sisters with a place to live and continue receiving training. The BDW believed the home should be situated in an area well populated with General Synod churches. Among the locations under consideration were New York City, New York and Baltimore, Maryland. In the end, Baltimore presented the best offer to the BDW. One week after the first consecrations in 1895, the deaconesses moved into their first motherhouse at 907 North Fulton Avenue. The Lutheran Deaconess Motherhouse and Training School, Baltimore, Maryland (BMD) received its charter in Philadelphia in 1898. In that same year the motherhouse was granted membership in the Kaiserwerth Conference.
Throughout its existence, the Baltimore Motherhouse deaconesses served as parish sisters, working in individual parishes; teachers, teaching religion and catechetics, in primary grades; and as nurses in parishes, homes and institutions such as hospitals, dispensaries, orphanages, jails, nurseries, foreign mission fields, and homes for the aged
In 1947 the Board of Deaconess Work established a formal relationship with the semi-independent Philadelphia Motherhouse of Deaconesses (PMD), a community established in 1884. The PMD was loosely associated with the General Council before it merged to help form the United Lutheran Church in America. A proposal to merge the two ULCA motherhouses developed in 1950, but the BMD did not endorse the proposal. One of the factors for the BMD decision was that the two groups viewed their roles differently. Nonetheless, coordination between the two motherhouses did occur in 1952-1953 when their education programs were coordinated and the standards for both schools were raised to college-level. At this same time, the BMD relocated its motherhouse from its second location in downtown Baltimore to Ruxton, Maryland.
In December 1961 the conferences of both BMD and PMD met again to consider merger and they voted to merge. On December 28, 1962, the merger between the Baltimore Motherhouse and the PMD became official. Even though each motherhouse retained its own separate legal entity, agreements were reached between the Baltimore and Philadelphia to merge the two sisterhoods. The new organization would be known as the Deaconess Community of the Lutheran Church in America.
Adapted in 2008 from ULCA 61, Lutheran Deaconess Motherhouse and Training School, Baltimore, Maryland, compiled by: Catherine Lundeen, Project Archivist, January 2005.