Monday, November 23, 2015

Time for Hobbies and Thanksgiving

Since reading, writing, and editing are sort of a hobby/passion/obsession, I've been pleased to have more than the usual amount of time to do these things lately. The reason, though a somewhat painful one, is that on Sept. 12, 2015, I fell backward off of a stage and sustained several fractured bones in my right foot.

Since surgery on Sept. 24 things have gone well. Physical Therapy started two weeks ago. One more surgery early in December will be the last, and then another period of some weeks of recovery.

I decided from the start that if Martin Luther could translate the Bible into the German language while secluded at Wartburg Castle, I could likewise be somewhat productive while just sitting around with my foot elevated above my knee! This decision has helped me get through many a long day, though I'll admit to cat-napping during the process.

In this week of Thanksgiving, I am grateful to God for doctors, nurses, surgeons, medicine, a loving and caring family, a loving and caring church, a loving and caring sisterhood of deaconesses in Concordia Deaconess Conference, and of course, the salvation that God has so freely given to us!

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving, in Christ!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Life and Words of Deaconess Clara Strehlow

One of my recent joys was to finish the biography of Deaconess Clara Elsa Flora Strehlow (1895-1985).

My first acquaintance with Clara was sometime during the early months of 1979, when we were both involved in campaigning for a deaconess training program within The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Clara had a calm voice and seldom spoke, but when she did have something to say, everyone listened. We regarded her as a mentor who gave sage advice gleaned from a life of genuine diaconal service in the Lord’s name.

Her experience was broad. She cared for orphans, organized Sunday Schools, worked at a home for the deaf, make countless home visits in the community, and starting in 1958, served as the first housemother of Deaconess Hall at Valparaiso University.

Here was a woman who had seen it all in the Church. When we met she had been a deaconess for 52 years – a founding member of the Lutheran Deaconess Conference of the Synodical Conference at the beginning of her career – and a founding member of Concordia Deaconess Conference – Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in the twilight of her career.

Sources for this biography include pieces written by Clara herself; her family’s oral history; the memories of her friends; and other articles and common domain historical documents. Some great photos add a fun dimension to the text. If you are looking for an easy and inspirational read - about how one dedicated deaconess lived her life in service to the Lord in her neighbors - this could be the book for you!  It's available from Lutheran Legacy Publishing, at

Saturday, November 14, 2015

DOXOLOGY for Deaconesses

The first "DOXOLOGY for Deaconesses" - specifically for women who serve as deaconesses in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod - took place at the Siena Retreat Center in Racine, Wisconsin, October 29-31, 2015.

In the Lutheran church, DOXOLOGY usually refers to a liturgical expression of praise to God.  DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel helps professional church workers acquire and improve the skills they need to provide effective spiritual care in their vocations. [Being blessed with an increased capability to care for our neighbors indeed gives cause to express praise to God!]

The conference presentations covered a variety of engaging topics, for example, "Putting the Best Construction on Everything;" "Christians after Christendom;" "Diaconal Service and the Care/Cure of Souls;" "Depression, Dysfunction and Despair: Clinical Realities;" "Spiritual Responses to Discouragement;" "Ethics and Caring;" "The Problem of Suffering;" "The Silent Epidemic: Compassion Fatigue." One can see, just from these titles, that the 35 attendees received much food for thought, as well as renewed encouragement and dedication to the task of addressing the needs of those whom they serve.

For more information about DOXOLOGY and the study retreats they offer, please see

Friday, November 13, 2015

Back again - at Last!

Dear friends of Deaconess History!

I'm so pleased to be back in the blogging world after being too long away.  There are a basket full of reasons, including "human error" regarding passwords.  Thanks to my webmaster mentor, this hopefully won't happen again!  Stay tuned for some updates, now that I'm back on track with the software!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Teaching and leaving "Phoebe" in Liberia

Cheryl D. Naumann giving a copy of "In the Footsteps of Phoebe" to The Revd. Amos Bolay, President of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia

Teaching Liberian deaconess students in Monrovia, Liberia.

From February 21 to March 5, 2014, I had the privilege of journeying to and from Monrovia, Liberia, at the invitation of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) Office of International Mission, to assist in teaching Lutheranism 101 to deaconess students of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia (ELCL), an African church body that just became a partner church of the LCMS at its synod convention in the summer of 2013.

This course in Monrovia was the second phase of deaconess training in Liberia organized under the directorship of Deaconess Grace Rao (Director of Deaconess Ministry, LCMS Office of International Mission), with whom I traveled to Africa. 

Our ten students came from all over Liberia, from five different tribes with five different languages, so the common language of instruction is English, which they all know as their second language. The two women that came the furthest traveled three nights and two days; one of them with her three month old baby!  Every day they were eager to learn.  We started at 7:30 a.m. and finished between 4 and 6 p.m. (even having class on Saturday).  We had to insist that they took breaks during the day and their whole lunch hour because when they finished lunch they would be back in their seats waiting for class to start again.

After our last day of teaching, ELCL President Rev. Amos Bolay took us to see the Liberian Lutheran Malaria Initiative office.  I thought of Bishop David Stechholz of the LCMS English District while standing in the office, since the Bishop is on the LCMS committee for this initiative and the English District has made such an effort to support the Malaria initiative.  It was very moving to see what a huge effect the LCMS is having in this part of the world that so desperately needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the hand of mercy that is simultaneously provided through the love of Jesus Christ.  What a privilege we have to partner with and serve the people of Liberia in so many ways!

Monday, March 11, 2013

KFUO BookTalk Interviews

These last several months since my dear father's departing to his heavenly rest have been very busy - and hence my lack of posts here on the blog. But activity in the realm of deaconess history has continued! In January I was interviewed three times on KFUO radio - A station located on property adjacent to Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. BookTalk host Rod Zwonitzer did a marvelous job of interviewing me about In the Footstep of Phoebe, as well as encouraging his listeners to think seriously about diaconal work in their own churches. The good news is that you can hear these recorded programs simply by accessing the archived BookTalk section of the KFUO website:, Archives, Book Talk, Jan. 14 (Part 1), Jan. 21 (Part 2), Jan. 22 (Part 3). After the interviews I wrote a 30-second advert for deaconesses, which is now airing daily on KFUO 850AM and streaming worldwide. The hope is that this will generate some interest to create more positions for deaconesses in LCMS congregations. Since recruitment programs for deaconess students have done their jobs well, we have a lot of women graduating from our LCMS deaconess training programs! Now the placement directors and the church as a whole need to keep up with finding enough appropriate places for these women to serve. This is a matter that we can keep in prayer! I hope you enjoy listening to the archived interviews!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Deaconess and her Father on Family Vocations

Every once in a while one is delighted to find a book that expresses the truth in a way that one always hopes it could be articulated - simply, straight to the point, and in accord with Biblical teaching! This volume by Deaconess Mary Moerbe and her father, Gene Edward Veith, does just that with a topic that so desperately needs to be dusted off and discussed over shared cups of coffee. Sections of the book deal with the vocation of husband and wife; the vocation of parent; and the vocation of childhood. Everyone can benefit from this book, married or unmarried, with or without children. (Moerbe and Veith point out that all have the vocation of childhood, for our entire lives, even if only in terms of being the children of our heavenly Father!) Bottom line - Our six children will all be getting it for Christmas, and in the meantime, it's the first thing on my agenda to study in the fall Woman to Woman classes. Thank you Deaconess Mary and dad, for this great book! (Available from Crossway. $15.99)