100 Years of Service – Deaconess Sheryl Andreasen

Sheryl Andreasen was born on July 11th, 1955 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Growing up with her two sisters, Linda and Lori, she learned to adapt well to change after moving 21 times as a family. They moved not only around the 48 states, but also to Japan, France, and Hong Kong. Sheryl graduated from Valparaiso University with a BA in Theology in 1979 and went on her earn her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois in 1987.

Sheryl heard about the deaconess program from a visiting deaconess’ slide presentation.   She did fieldwork at Immanuel Lutheran School in Valpo and St. Phillip’s in Gary, IN. Sheryl interned at Camp Luther in Three Lakes, Wisconsin, where she was consecrated in 1979. After graduation and consecration,  Sheryl served at Camp Wartburg in Waterloo, IL. Then she spent a summer at Yellowstone National Park! There she worked 35 hours a week at Yellowstone in a “secular” job and did evening and weekend ministry through Bible studies, worship planning and leading, and discussion groups.

Sheryl returned to Minnesota where she enrolled in Clinical Pastoral Education and received advanced standing as Senior Chaplain Resident at the University of Minnesota Hospital and at the Methodist Hospital in Minneapolis.

In 1983, Sheryl took a call at First Lutheran Church in Rockford, IL with the responsibilities of caring ministries, Pastoral Care, youth ministry, and young singles ministry. Sheryl wrote of her ministry there, “My calling as a Lutheran Deaconess is a calling to service in the Church. Daily I am challenged to live out God’s love in my work with youth, the homebound, elderly and the hospitalized.” 

Sheryl returned to school for her MSW, doing an internship at Lutheran Social Services in Rockford.  She wrote, “I am a perpetual student — in the areas of counseling, administration/program development, and life enrichment programs and PR work. It has been a ‘journey’ as I have worked to integrate for me the hats I wear as a social worker and deaconess. My theology has grown, expanded and been challenged  — it is an interesting process.!” She served as Director of Child Welfare Services and Counselor. She taught women communication, problem-solving and goal setting/achievement skills through a course called Effectiveness Training for Women.

Sheryl worked as a Coordinator of Clinical Services at the Employee Assistance Program and in 1999 began serving a consultant/trainer with the Rockford Health System where she served until her death.

Sheryl served six years as president of the board of directors of the LDA.  She assisted in facilitating a strategic planning process, helping the LDA to develop clear goals and directions and setting in motion processes to reach them.  She guided the LDA Board to come to consensus on a new vision statement.  She chaired the task force that redesigned the LDA’s education/formation process. In 1997 Sheryl facilitated the LDC Annual meeting — Courageous Community: with Integrity of Heart. She and Elaine Plackner prepared and wrote the reflection guide used in preparation for the gathering. Sheryl had us ask, “What is the next step for yourself, your ministry, and your relationship with the community?” while reminding us to allow the Spirit to lead where we need to go.

Sheryl also served as president of the Lutheran Deaconess Conference and was a frequent presenter at LDA student seminars on the topics of process and change, most recently in 2018, just prior to her death.

She met Paul Conrad at a ballroom dancing class and that led to their wedding in Sept. of 2004 Through Paul, she became a mother/grandmother/great-grandmother by marriage. Tragically, Sheryl and Paul were killed in an auto accident on June 29, 2018, when they were hit head-on by another driver.

In the words of Deaconess Kathy Stim, “Sheryl embodied what LOVE is during her time walking, breathing, living, serving among us on her journey here on earth… she was a consummate peacemaker, a consensus-builder, an advocate, a faithful friend, a caring, listening ear, a lover of her precious grandchildren. Well-done faithful servant, you will be greatly missed, but always remembered among us.”

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