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written by Clara herself; her family’s oral history; the memories of her friends; and other articles and common domain historical documents.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

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