The ELCA Deaconess Community will begin to market the Deaconess Center house and property in Gladwyne, Pa., outside Philadelphia, the group announced.
The community has used the center for offices, a home for retired deaconesses and for program activities since 1953. Four years ago, the deaconesses approved moving to Chicago to be more centrally located and closer to ELCA churchwide offices. The community recently reached an agreement on the property and other assets it jointly owns with The Mary J. Drexel Home, an ELCA-related institution serving the elderly.
The community currently has 100 members. Frost said 10 deaconesses have joined the community — the first time in 30 years that it has received so many new and younger members. Candidates are coming to the community in their 20s rather than as second-career 50-year-olds.
The deaconesses will begin a two-year pilot program for associate membership.
A flier describes associate members as people who aren't "part of the community but who share a common vision with our community. [They are] looking for a sense of belonging to a community and sharing in its mission and ministry, a relationship built on prayer, service and common vision, and an opportunity for spiritual enrichment with others who share the same vision for mission."
Lutheran deaconesses came to the United States from Germany in 1849 to serve in hospitals and other church institutions. Today they serve in health care, parish work, education, church music, administration and social services. The Deaconess Community came to Philadelphia a little more than 115 years ago.
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