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This month we want to tell you more about the “Caring for and Sharing Christ with Hurting People” program of Concordia Seminary St. Louis, recipients of a $100,000 grant from Lutheran Women in Mission (LWM) in the 2021–2023 biennium.

Deaconesses are professional church workers trained to the share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through works of mercy, spiritual care and teaching the Christian faith. Equipped with God’s Word, deaconesses share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those who have not yet heard it. In reaching out to those in need, deaconesses continually point them toward the cross.

Deaconesses may serve in the parish, in institutions or in the mission field. Their specific ministries change depending on their call, but all deaconesses reach out and care for others as they share the love of Christ. They lovingly and selflessly provide much-needed care and works of mercy to people who are suffering and often marginalized. These include people who are sick, homeless, disabled, malnourished, homebound or hospitalized, enduring grief or loss, in hospice care or living in nursing homes or convalescent homes. They also may serve those who are mentally ill, troubled youth, teen mothers, children of divorce and those suffering from neglect or domestic violence.

Alexandria Shick is a third-year Concordia Seminary deaconess student serving her internship at St. Luke's Lutheran Church and School in Oviedo, Florida. She plans to serve in correctional chaplaincy after graduation.

Deaconesses serving in a parish may visit shut-ins or make hospital calls. They may manage the Sunday School program, lead women’s’ Bible studies and work with youth. Regardless of how they serve, they listen and grow to understand the needs of those they serve. Deaconesses may serve as hospital chaplains or work in institutions that are Recognized Service Organizations of the LCMS. They may serve as counselors at a center for troubled youth or minister to unwed mothers who learn to care for their child. Deaconesses who are recent immigrants to the United States use their languages skills and understanding of different cultures to help people assimilate into this country. They understand the struggles immigrants are facing and keep pointing them to the loving arms of Christ.

Jennifer Wientge is a 2020 Residential Deaconess Studies Program graduate currently serving as a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs chaplain resident in St. Louis.

The deaconess certificate is awarded to women in various ways. Some women complete the three-year residential program at Concordia Seminary or the dual degree program while also studying at St. Louis University. Some women receive their training and certification by participating in a four-year distance course study through Center for Hispanic Studies (CHS) or Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT). As of the spring of 2021, women can become certified as they study four years in their home area through the online deaconess studies program.

The money from this grant will help fund scholarships for the training of women to become certified deaconesses. It will also cover some of the costs of managing the deaconess training program at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

Lutheran Women in Mission (LWM) is the official women’s auxiliary of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Since 1942, LWM has focused on affirming each woman’s relationship with Christ, encouraging and equipping women to live out their Christian lives in active mission ministries and by supporting global missions. For more information on each month’s mission focus, visit Saint John’s Lutheran Women in Mission (Mission Guild) meets the first Tuesday of each month at 10:30 AM in Room 301. All ladies of the congregation are invited to attend.