100 Years of Service Deaconess Louise Rathke

Louise Rathke was a member of the first deaconess training class at Beaver Dam, Wisconsin and graduated in 1925. Louise served about six months at the Apache Indian Mission in Arizona and was then sent to India in 1926 as the first Lutheran deaconess missionary.

While in India, she established a girls’ school, organized women’s societies and taught women how to be evangelists. She served for a time as matron of the Bethesda Hospital in Ambur and was called to the Zenana Mission by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. She authored a book titled “Among the Palms in India” and is featured in the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League book, “A Rainbow of Saris”.

Louise served in India until 1962, when she returned to Kansas to care for her ill mother. Reflecting on her service in India at the 1977 Annual Deaconess Conference, Rathke said, “We suffered some hardships, but we experienced many rewards as people came to know the Gospel.”

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