100 Years of Service – How to Make Deaconess [and Deacon] Work Better Known

As we near the end of our centennial year, the challenge before us is similar to the challenge at the beginning of our organization – how do we spread the word about the LDA and encourage all people in their baptismal call to service? The following is taken from a document written by Deaconess Alice Dey Kuehn (consecrated 1935). Most of our students come to us because they’ve met a deaconess or deacon or someone who has a connection with the LDA. How can you help to “Make Deaconess [and Deacon] Work Better Known”?

HOW TO MAKE DEACONESS WORK BETTER KNOWN

Field Work
Fieldwork is perhaps the most important factor in better acquainting the public in general and the Lutheran public in particular, with Deaconess work. Fieldwork should be done, or carried on, preferably, by a pastor or candidate who has this work as his chief duty, under the supervision of the Superintendent. It would be practically impossible for the Superintendent to assume sole responsibility of fieldwork together with his other manifold duties, most important of which, is the proper training of the deaconesses. Lecture slides and movies of the various types of work and service rendered by deaconesses, conducted by the pastor with a deaconess as his assistant, and sponsored by the various Deaconess Societies (whose chief function, I believe, is to serve as a type of auxiliary to the Deaconess Association) and where these are lacking, by Ladies Aid Societies or Walther League groups, should prove very profitable in the furtherance of the Deaconess cause.

Deaconess Societies as Publicity Agents
It may be a wise idea to have several sets of snapshots or photographs, of deaconesses at their various duties, with every institution served by deaconesses represented, including foreign mission, city mission, and parish work. Snapshots should be labeled, put up on posters, or in poster form and kept at the Deaconess Home. These posters should be made available to all Deaconess Societies upon request, for use as display material at joint Reformation services, Mission Festivals, and other opportune moments. In those cities where there are no Deaconess Societies it might be wise to interest a group of ladies in organizing such a society, that failing, a Ladies Aid Society might be persuaded to substitute as publicity agent.

Moving the Deaconess Training School
The transfer of the Deaconess Training School, not for a definite length of time, necessarily, to the larger cities where opportunities for practical experience may be greater, is another thought. In larger cities where a deaconess may be able to give assistance to on overworked missionary who may be trying to establish a mission station or a Gospel Center, a relief center, in City Mission, in hospitals or various other types of work where she may possibly make herself invaluable while learning, may pay dividends in valuable experience to both, the pastor and the deaconess. The expense fund for this type of experience for the deaconess student might be assumed by the Deaconess Society of that city, rather than the Deaconess Association. It is well known to all of us that the clergy in particular and the people in general, of the city of Ft. Wayne, have given wonderful cooperation and valuable experience to the deaconess students who have trained there, by employing their help whenever possible. Since deaconess work is so well known in Ft. Wayne, why not give the pastors and the Lutheran people of other cities the same opportunity to acquaint themselves with Deaconess Cause by bringing the deaconess students to them?

The Attitude of The Individual Deaconess
After the deaconess has finished her training and has become consecrated, she is apt to be of the opinion that she has learned all there is to know. This attitude, of course, is dangerous but I firmly believe that the majority of us, after the first jolt or two, realize that other people too have ideas and opinions which may have been proven and are of some worth. When a deaconess has this attitude and stubbornly believes that she cannot be wrong, it is wise for her to consult with her Superintendent or sister deaconesses who have had much more experience in the field. In this way she will learn to become tolerant of her fellow human beings without entirely giving up her own convictions, but rather learn to sift out, (not only from her own convictions but also the convictions of her fellow workers and associates) That which is truly right and useful according to Scripture. She will then learn that no two people think exactly alike and that one cannot impose one’s own ideas upon another person by force. This takes unlimited courage. By patience and humility, she will in time, come to the realization that she too “is blessed among women” in that she has obtained a better understanding of mankind and the mercy of God toward mankind. In this way she herself will learn to be merciful and tolerant, realizing that her own shortcomings are manifold. Her aim should be to make her services so valuable to the institution and the pastor, for whom and with whom she is working, that to be deprived of her services would be a loss. This is the personal advertisement of the deaconess for her Cause.

The Deaconess Uniform as an Advertisement
The Deaconess uniform should be worn whenever and wherever possible, not necessarily exclusively, but especially when on duty, keeping mindful of the fact that its object is to attract attention to the person of the wearer but rather, as a symbol of the type of work represented by it.

This concludes my humble opinions, I respectfully submit them, either for discussion or contemplation. Thank You.
Alice Dey (Deaconess)

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