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