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.