Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Deaconess Cook Book

Every once in a long while I find a gem of Deaconess History on eBay. A few weeks ago it was a lovely little 1924 hardback "Deaconess Cook Book" compiled by the Deaconess Society of the First Lutheran Church, Worcester, Massachusetts.

Deaconess societies accomplished a great deal of work on behalf of the deaconess movement in North America, first through their members promoting and carrying out diaconal acts of mercy in areas local to the society; and second, by raising money to support deaconess training and deaconess service throughout the church.

I feel quite certain that my newly acquired "Deaconess Cook Book" is one of the projects that the ladies would have designed specifically to raise money for the deaconess cause! The fact that there are four "Patron and Patronesses" listed on the page opposite the front "Index" (Contents page) also testifies in favor of this possibility.

Within the 104 pages of great looking recipes, the Hor's D'oeuvre page includes a very interesting entry describing a good SMORGASBORD - what we might call a fancy buffet:

Butter pats; rye, wheat, and other breads cut in thin, small slices; strip of toasted bread, about width of two fingers; two or three kinds of cheese; caviar; sardines; anchovies, shrimps; lobster; medvurst; sausage; cold sliced chicken; cold sliced ham; sliced smoked salmon; sliced corned beef; sliced tongue; cold boiled salmon; small meat-balls; pickled herring; cucumbers; plain and stuffed olives; celery and other relishes. Besides the above a few salads may appear, as well as hot dishes consisting possibly of small meat pies, and various small omelets made by adding to omelet batter, sardines, minced ham, or fried mushrooms, also dainty meat or fish croquettes. The above dishes are placed upon buffet and serving table and are eaten before sitting down to dinner table; each guest may be asked to help himself; or, they may be placed upon dinner table and served before regular dinner is served, in that case the table must necessarily by cleared before the first course, leaving olives, celery, radishes, butter and bread.

I was surprised by the amount of seafood included in this smorgasbord - but then the book was published on the eastern seaboard. But what a massive amount of food to eat before dinner!

For the fun of it - Next time you go to eBay, type "deaconess" into the search bar and have fun looking at all of the different things that pop up about deaconesses.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Guest Blog by Deaconess Deborah Rockrohr

A New Page in Deaconess History

The Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (LCSA) will soon write a new page in deaconess history. For the past two years a small group of women have received short-term intensive course training from Deaconess Grace Rao with the support of LCMS World Relief and Human Care. These women will complete their final course in October, and on October 28, 2011, the LCSA will commission its first deaconesses.

As the director of the new full-time residential deaconess training program that will launch at Lutheran Theological Seminary (LTS) in Pretoria in January 2012, I look forward to becoming better acquainted with these women who will shortly become my colleagues in the mercy work of the LCSA. Two of the current students, Nancy and Esther, were able to join us for the annual conference of the Concordia Deaconess Conference – LCMS in June (see July 3rd blog below). While we do not expect to move to South Africa until late in 2011, LCMS World Relief and Human Care is making it possible for me to join the LTS deaconess students for their final days of training and also be present for the commissioning on October 28. It is hoped that my visit in October will facilitate a smooth transition from the initial intensive training to the new full time program and permit me to develop professional relationships with the new LCSA deaconesses and others who will be resources for the new training program.

Although deaconess ministry will be new to the LCSA, women have been active in the work of the church for many years through the Women’s League. Similar in many ways to the work of the LCMS Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML), these women organize to pray for the people of South Africa and the work of the church, and engage in projects that extend the mercy work of the church to the community. In South Africa, every major Christian denomination has a women’s league with a denominationally-distinct uniform. Nancy and Esther, who will soon be deaconesses in the LCSA, are also members of the LCSA Women’s League and appear in the league uniform in the July 3rd blog photo.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Concordia Deaconess Conference 2011

Concordia Deaconess Conference - Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (CDC) - a 'Recognized Service Organization' of the LCMS - holds annual conferences to provide its members with opportunities for personal, spiritual, and professional growth. This year's conference, held at Concordia University, Nebraska, from June 15-18, centered on the theme: Lutheran Spirituality: A Life of Receptivity.

Among the 2011 conference participants were two deaconess students from The Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, a partner church of the LCMS. The conference mission offering was designated for the support of a new deaconess training program at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane (Pretoria, South Africa). CDC member, Deaconess Deborah Rockrohr (pictured above with the two students), recently accepted a call to serve as Director of this program.

CDC members thanked the outgoing Spiritual Counselor, Rev. John Berg, and four outgoing officers, Deborah Rockrohr, Carol Schroeder, Linda Cosgrove, and Lorraine Groth, for their hard work over the last several years. Newly elected officers include Sara Lemon, Vice President; Kim Schave, Treasurer, Jana Peters, Member-at-Large for Annual Conference Logistics; Heidi Bishop, Member-at-Large for Membership. Rev. William Weedon was elected as the CDC Spiritual Counselor for the next three years.

More information about the conference, membership applications, copies of the CDC newsletter, and so forth, are available at

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Finishing the Run!

I am extremely proud of two colleagues - one a deaconess and the other someone who enjoys calling herself an F.O.D. (Friend of Deaconesses!) - who both completed a 5-Kilometer run today!
Violeta and Sarah!

These women have been training for this day for months. And their training paid off. They finished the run - and with good times - 31.41 minutes and 33.13 minutes respectively. And they are smiling at the finish line!

If you will forgive me, I need to add a faith-life application while I'm at it. The timing of this 5K run is a great reminder to me of the ultimate love God has shown to the human race. Jesus Christ didn't give up in the garden when He knew that the Heavenly Father wasn't going to take the bitter cup of suffering and death away from His lips. He had become incarnate and lived as true God and true man for this very purpose. Our Savior finished the run for us. And now we rejoice in remembering His death and in preparation for a glorious celebration of His resurrection on Easter day!

A blessed Easter to all!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Where Do LCMS Deaconesses Serve?

The most recent information available from The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod's Department of Rosters and Statistics shows that there are 213 deaconesses on the Synod's roster. The current "status" and "positions' of the women are described as follows:

By Roster Status:

131 – Active

24 – Candidates

22 – Non-Candidates

36 – Emeritus

By Position:

76 – Serving Member Congregation

16 – Recognized Service Organization

8 – Other Special ministry

8 – Synod HS/College/Univ/Seminary Faculty or Staff

6 – Chaplain-Institutional

5 – Synod Executive or Staff

3 – Missionary-Synod

3 – District Executive or Staff

2 – Synod College or Seminary Faculty

1 – Teacher

1 – District-Other Staff

1 – Executive Director

1 – Missionary-Other

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

12 Ways to Become a Missouri Synod Deaconess!

Anyone reading literature which is officially or unofficially associated with The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS), will have noted an increase in the mention of deaconesses over the last half decade. Some of this is due to the proliferation of deaconess training paths in the synod. Unless I've missed one, there are now TWELVE avenues to becoming a deaconess in the LCMS, as follows:

1. Concordia University Chicago - Undergraduate program
2. Concordia University Chicago - Certification (Cert. only, not in combination with another option listed)
3. Concordia University Chicago - on campus Master of Arts in Religion with Deaconess Certification
4. Concordia University Chicago - online Master of Arts in Religion with Deaconess Certification
5. Concordia University Chicago - Deaconess Colloquy
6. Concordia Seminary, St. Louis - Master of Arts in Deaconess Studies
7. Concordia Seminary, St. Louis - Master of Arts with Deaconess Certification
8. Center for Hispanic Studies (under Concordia Seminary, St. Louis)
9. Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (under Concordia Seminary, St. Louis)
10. Deaf Institute of Theology (under Concordia Seminary St. Louis)
11. Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne - on campus Master of Arts leading to Deaconess certification
12. Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne - distance/online program, Master of Arts in Deaconess Studies

This is wonderful news, of course. But with willing workers a synod also needs places to utilize the trained workers. And at the moment finding places for all graduates, or keeping all deaconesses in the field in gainful employment is a real challenge.

The LCMS needs to do some urgent thinking about how it can work as a synod to make use of its many talented workers - whether they are deaconesses, teachers, pastors, or other commissioned ministers.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Guest Blog by Deaconess Grace Rao

Deaconess Grace Rao - who works at The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod International Center (St. Louis) in the area of World Relief and Human Care - has been involved in some exciting diaconal education work in Africa, and very kindly agreed to provide the following guest blog:

It was a blessing and honor to visit the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Southern Africa at the request of Bishop Wilhelm Weber. I was humbled by his gracious invitation and was overwhelmed as he looked towards my unit at LCMS World Relief and Human Care to assist and uplift the seminary’s educational and diaconal needs in the areas of women and children. My first assignment was teaching an advanced course class on the “Role of Women in the Church” to the seminarian students, pastors, vicars, deans and few women from Women’s league of the Lutheran Church, with special references to “works of mercy,” the role of Lutheran deaconesses who shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ through acts of human care and mercy, and by including the structure of LCMS WR-HC and their ministries.

Second, another task was to give professional advice to the role of women in the church and specifically the inception of a deaconess program, designing the curriculum and the actual course set-up. This paved the way to lead two very successful intensive courses to train and equip local deaconesses in Southern Africa, and by teaching faithful Lutheran doctrine and practice amongst the leaders of the women’s league.

When asked for his thoughts about the diaconal training, the Bishop said “I am confident that this excellent training program will go quite a distance in assisting the Lutheran Church in Southern Africa to attain sustainable structures and staffing to address crucial works of mercy amongst previously neglected groups like single mothers, orphaned children, sufferers of HIV/Aids and other sick and dying people in and beyond the boundaries of our Lutheran congregations.” The next third and fourth courses are schedule to take place in the near future.

In addition, my responsibility also involves identifying, assessing, recommending to support the existing mercy projects, and implementing new projects as well. My unit assists a lot with theological resources. The Lord is gracious and kind, and with His blessings my ministry is moving well, and looking for stronger partnerships in years to come.

Deaconess Grace Rao

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Quick Year

In the context of history, and particularly personal history, we often talk about how fast time flies by. When we start a new year, we can't believe how quickly the old one finished, and then at the end of January, we wonder how it could be time to begin preparing taxes again so quickly - at least those of us who need to file FAFSA forms are thinking about taxes aleady!

It was a year ago today that we attended the service and cemetery committal for my dear mother, Dorothy Violet Freitag. Throughout the year I've spent a lot of time thinking about her life and her Christian witness to me and others. I've missed her terribly, especially our daily phone calls that spanned the 3000 miles that separated us. But I've come to appreciate, also, that what she taught me is still a vital and vibrant part of my life. It's not just that I look in the mirror and see a likeness of her. Or that I bear her name as my middle name. But the faith that she and dad taught me (and my brother) is still alive and growing through the grace of God, through His Word and Sacraments.

I was particularly moved by verses 3 and 4 one of the hymns we sang in the Divine Service today: "O Savior of Our Fallen Race." The words went like this:

Remember, Lord of life and grace, How once, to save our fallen race, You put our human vesture on And came to us as Mary's Son. Alleluaia!

Today, as year by year its light bathes all the world in radiance bright, One precious truth outshines the sun: Salvation comes from You alone. Alleluia!

A blessed Epiphany!