Answering Our Call Across the Decades
Since 1919, the LDA has been changing and growing in response to Christ’s call to service.
New Paths to Service
The first LDA deaconesses were trained as nurses to meet the growing needs of Lutheran hospitals, orphanages, homes for those with disabilities, and others. By the mid-1930's, deaconesses were encouraged to pursue callings to service other than nursing, such as teaching and social work.
Preparing to Serve
In 1943 the deaconess training program moved from a motherhouse/center on the grounds of Fort Wayne Lutheran Hospital, Fort Wayne, IN, to Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN. The university setting gave future deaconesses the opportunity for a superior education with an emphasis in theology. Deaconess Hall provided a residential setting and focal point for community worship and activities.
Deaconesses were prepared through classes and experiential learning to make significant contributions to the life of the church in congregations as well as in healing and social service ministries.
Missouri Synod and Beyond
From the beginning, LDA deaconesses served institutions and then congregations of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), the church body of its founders.
In the mid-1970's, the LCMS adopted a certain theological stance. As a result, a small but significant number of congregations, pastors and individuals left the LCMS. In addition, various Lutheran synods restructured and merged. Deaconesses found themselves serving in Lutheran congregations and agencies both inside and outside of the LCMS.
After much prayer and conversation, the LDA decided that to meet its mission most fully, it should be inter-Lutheran and educate women who wished to serve in various Lutheran church bodies as well as in ministries in ecumenical and secular settings.
Meeting New Needs
In the 1980's, the LDA moved to the Center for Diaconal Ministry adjacent to the VU campus. Deaconess Hall was sold to VU and the residential aspect of deaconess formation was discontinued.
Responding in new ways to meet the ever changing needs of God’s church and world has been the LDA’s continuing task. The LDA has a stated goal of increasing diversity and, in 2012, admitted men into the diaconal formation program for the first time.
Flexibility is Key to Our Program
Today. the LDA has students studying at VU and other Lutheran universities as well as taking on-line courses and enrolling in conferences and seminars to further their learning. Students range in age from 20 to 60+, live and work all over the US, and belong to several Lutheran church bodies. Internships can be local or across the globe - wherever God calls the servant to serve. The LDA continues to change and grow in response to God’s call to serve all with compassion and grace.
Deaconess Martha Eber, 1922
Deaconess Hall, Valparaiso, IN
A Deaconess Class in the 1950's
2008 Student Seminar at the Center for Diaconal Ministry
First Three Deacon Students in 2012