The Deaconess Conference (as it was originally called) was organized in 1934 at a meeting held at the Bethesda Home, Watertown, Wisconsin. A preliminary meeting had been held at the Ft. Wayne Deaconess Home in 1933. At that meeting were Deaconesses Amelia Erdelbrock, Erna Heck, Louise Moehlenbrock, Martha Schmidt, Alverda Johnson, Cora Leader, Clara Strehlow, Ida Trinklein, along with Mr. Louis Pringel, Director of the Bethesda Home and Rev. H. B. Kohlmeier, superintendent of the Lutheran Deaconess Association. At this meeting, it was resolved to organize a Deaconess Conference.
According to a history of the LDA, written by Rev. Kohlmeier, the “conference has done much to foster the feeling of companionship among the deaconesses. The conventions have also been instrumental in making our cause known and have proved of value in giving renewed inspiration and zeal to the deaconesses. This is very much needed since they often work under trying conditions.”
At the first meeting in 1934, greetings from various deaconesses were read and the following topics were discussed:
-How can our deaconesses help to advance the deaconess cause?
-What obligation has the Association to the deaconess, and what obligation has the deaconess to the Association?
-Reasons why our deaconesses should habitually wear the deaconess uniform.
-How can we help our deaconesses retain the spirit of consecration?
Those present voted to allow the Superintendent to call an “Advisory Committee of five deaconesses into existence for the purpose of bringing matters of interest to the General Board of the Association through the Superintendent” as well as to ask the Superintendent to “write a brief manual on ethics” that would be studied by the Advisory Committee and voted upon at the next annual meeting. It was further agreed that the “deaconess conference be held annually sometime during the summer”. Beginning in 1945, the name of the organization came to be known as the Lutheran Deaconess Conference (LDC).
The LDC has continued to meet annually for education, support, and encouragement. To foster community between annual meetings, geographic Area Conferences meet frequently an
d there are also deaconesses located in the U.S. and around the world that meet via video conference or conference call, as they do not have a local group of deaconesses to meet with in person. Membership of the LDC has varied through the years but generally has consisted of consecrated deaconesses, deaconess students, and honorary deaconesses.
Under the current LDC Constitution, the purposes of the Lutheran Deaconess Conference are:
•To encourage the development of sisterhood and community among deaconesses.
•To afford members an opportunity to meet for renewed inspiration and personal and professional growth.
•To shape, promote and support diaconal ministry here and abroad.
•To serve as a catalyst within church structures for diakonia.
•To provide opportunities to support and strengthen deaconesses in their various ministries.
•To support the mission and ministry of the Lutheran Deaconess Association.