Deaconess Ministry

Deaconess Ministry

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

LCMS deaconesses are women who are professional church-workers, trained to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through works of mercy, spiritual care, and teaching the Christian faith. “Deaconess,” from the Greek word diakonos, means “servant.”

Because of the strong historic and ongoing human care component in deaconess ministry, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Deaconess Ministry works closely with LCMS deaconesses across the world.

•  History

•  Conference

•  Resources

•  Motto

This video offers a glimpse of the vocation of service to which a Lutheran deaconess dedicates herself.

View the Deaconess ministry overview in Spanish


About LCMS Deaconess Ministry

What is a deaconess?

LCMS deaconesses are women who are professional church-workers, trained to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through a ministry of works of mercy, spiritual care, and teaching the Christian faith.

“Deaconess,” from the Greek word diakonos, means “servant.” Phoebe, named in Rom. 16:1-2, was a helper to Paul and others. She often is considered the first deaconess.

Where do deaconesses serve?

Deaconesses serve primarily in three settings:

  1. Missions — both foreign and domestic;
  2. Congregations — teaching, visiting the sick and imprisoned, or serving in family or other caring ministry; and
  3. Institutions — serving as chaplains in hospitals, prisons, retirement communities, and facilities that care for people with developmental disabilities. In order for a deaconess to be endorsed as an LCMS institutional chaplain, she first must complete a master’s degree in theology along with four units of clinical pastoral education (CPE). As an institutional chaplain, a deaconess provides valuable spiritual care to those she encounters, complementing the Word and Sacrament ministry of an ordained pastor.

Because of the strong historic and ongoing human care component in deaconess ministry, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Deaconess Ministries maintains a consultative presence on the Deaconess Council, which was formed to enhance the coordination of training and promotional activities.

Return to top



What is the history of deaconesses in the LCMS?

While deaconesses have served the Lutheran church since the 1830’s in a variety of roles, it wasn’t until 1922 that the first deaconess began to serve in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

  • Continue reading
    • In 1919, the Lutheran Deaconess Association (a pan-Lutheran organization) was formed and began training deaconesses for the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America, which at that time included the Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Norwegian Lutheran synods.
    • Between 1919 and 1935 all deaconesses trained to be nurses, and their training took place at hospitals or institutions in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Beaver Dam, Wis; Hot Springs, S.D.; or Watertown, Wis.
    • In 1935, the deaconess training centers were consolidated into one school in Fort Wayne, which moved to Valparaiso, Ind., in 1943.
    • In 1980, The LCMS opened its first synodical deaconess training program at Concordia University Chicago (River Forest), for both undergraduate and graduate training, and in 1981 added a deaconess colloquy program.
    • Concordia Deaconess Conference (a free association of confessional LCMS deaconesses) was formed in January 1980.
    • In 2002, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, started a graduate level deaconess program.
    • In 2003, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, also opened a graduate level training program.
    • In 2008, Concordia Publishing House published a book titled In the Footsteps of Phoebe: A Complete History of the Deaconess Movement in The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, written by Dcs. Cheryl D. Naumann, providing in-depth history of deaconesses in the LCMS.

Return to top



Reports, fact sheets, and general information on Deaconess ministry.

Learn more

Return to top


Education Programs

Educational opportunities for graduate, undergraduate and pre-deaconess programs.

Learn more

Return to top


Concordia Deaconess Conference

Concordia Deaconess Conference (CDC) is a free association of certified or rostered Lutheran deaconesses and a Recognized Service Organization of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. All CDC members and affiliates subscribe to, and live by, the Word of God and the confessions in the Book of Concord.


Return to top



What is the deaconess motto?

Based on 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, the CDC motto reads:

Working in faith
Laboring in love
Remaining steadfast in the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Another deaconess motto is “The True Deaconess Spirit” by Wilhelm Loehe. Many deaconess motherhouses in Germany adopted Loehe's poem as their motto in the 19th and 20th centuries. It later gained popularity in America after the immigration of German deaconesses to this country.

  • Continue reading
  • The True Deaconess Spirit
    What is my want? I want to serve.
    Whom do I want to serve?
    The Lord in His wretched ones and His poor.

    And what is my reward?
    I serve neither for reward nor thanks
    but out of gratitude and love.
    My reward is that I am permitted to serve.

    And if I perish in this service?
    “If I perish, I perish,” said Queen Esther.
    I would perish for Him who gave Himself for me.
    But He will not let me perish.

    And if I grow old in this service?
    Then shall my heart be renewed as a palm tree.
    And the Lord shall satisfy me with grace and mercy.

    I go my way in peace
    casting all my care upon Him.

Return to top


News & Articles

View more

Deaconess Dr. Tiffany Manor
Managing Director
Human Care and Ministerial Support

  Staff Directory

Contact the LCMS

Ask a question    1-888-843-5267

Ministry Overview

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Deaconess Ministry encourages and supports deaconess formation and mercy work nationally and internationally.

Download information sheet

Fact Sheets

Support Deaconess Ministry

Our Synod is blessed by women committed to full-time teaching and the sharing of Christ's mercy under the supervision of a pastor. Deaconesses are valuable servants of Christ, and they are a resource for carrying out ministry.

With your gift, you help recruit and prepare deaconesses for service and build up deaconess ministry in our Lutheran partner churches.

Give Now

Give by mail

To make a donation by mail, make a check payable to “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod” or “LCMS.” Write the “Deaconess Ministry” on the memo line of your check or on an enclosed note, and send to:

  • The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
    Mission Advancement
    P.O. Box 66861
    St. Louis, MO 63166-6861

Give by phone

To make a credit card gift over the phone, you can call the LCMS toll-free gift line between 8 a.m. and 4:10 p.m. Central time.

  • 888-930-4438


Contact LCMS Mission Advancement if you have questions or want to discuss the impact you can have on the LCMS Deaconess Ministry through your Christian giving.

Return to top

Join us on the journey

 Facebook   Twitter    Instagram    YouTube   Vimeo   LinkedIn

Mission and Vision

Seven Mission Priorities

The Lutheran Witness Magazine

Lutheran Witness February 2024

MDFL Resource Center

Making Disciples for Life - Resource Center

Million Dollar Life Match

Ready to expland your congrgation's pro-life ministry? Apply now for the Million Dollar Life Match.

Church Work Recruitment Initiative

Set Apart to Serve

Caring for Ukraine

Ukraine Support

Contact Us

  Email us

  Church Info Center: 888-843-5267
  Staff Switchboard: 800-248-1930
  Donor Care Line: 888-930-4438

 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7226


Guide Star Logo BBB Logo


Auxiliaries and Seminaries




The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Inc., including Mission Central (in Mapleton, Iowa), is an IRS registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity.

A contribution designated (restricted) for a specific purpose, when accepted, will be used only to fund expenses related to that purpose. Occasionally, we may receive more in contributions for a particular purpose than can be wisely applied to it in the foreseeable future or the purpose may cease to be feasible. In these situations, the LCMS will make reasonable attempts to contact contributors to apply their contribution toward another aspect of ministry that aligns closely the contributor’s goals and values. If a contributor cannot be contacted, the LCMS will use the gift to meet a similar pressing need that most closely matches the contributor's original intent.

Consistent with Synod Board policy and in recognition of a more challenging economic and philanthropic/fundraising environment due to inflationary pressure, not more than 13.5 percent of any charitable contribution will be allocated to administering gifts and communicating with contributors. Contributions received and accepted by the LCMS are deemed to be in agreement with this statement.

Donor Transparency Resources

Employment   |   For the Media   |   Site Map   |   Privacy   |   Social Media Guidelines    |   Social Media Directory


© 2003 – 2010   The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. All Rights Reserved.