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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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ELCA to celebrate 10 years of diaconal ministry

"A ministry of service and witness, exemplifying the life of Christ-like service … and equipping the baptized for their lives of service ….”

With this vision, the 1993 Churchwide Assembly established a roster of Diaconal Ministry. Less than a year later, the first diaconal minister was consecrated.

And this year, as the ELCA celebrates the 10th anniversary, 95 men and women serve as diaconal ministers. They serve in various ministry settings, making the connections between church and world—some as chaplains in hospital and nursing homes; others in a congregational setting. Still others serve at the borders of society in various Lutheran or other social service settings.

Esther Schmidt is a chaplain at Agnesian Healthcare in Fond du Lac, Wis. “As I look back, my call to diaconal ministry has really been a lifelong process. I always enjoyed ‘helping’ and sometimes ‘leading’ or ‘teaching’ in various situations,” she says. “My position as a chaplain is varied and unpredictable. I can be saying ‘hello’ to a patient one minute, grabbed by a nurse to be with someone who just received a devastating diagnosis the next, and paged to an emergency two minutes later.

“One of the most rewarding duties is being spiritual mentor for the hospital’s four parish nurses. I work closely with social workers, particularly in helping people (patients and family members) work through end-of-life decisions. I am a member of the Ethics Committee at one hospital.”

Read more stories of diaconal ministry and learn about how they prepare for their ministries by visiting www.elca.org/diaconalministry.


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