Why Be A Deacon

Front row are the deacons: Ben Ema, Elliott Stephensen, Steve Arnold.


I am receiving many questions about my new involvement with the Lutheran Deaconess Association (LDA),  The questions come in many forms.  The questions are not judgmental.  The questions express a sincere curiosity, but, also express that people have trouble understanding what this “deacon thing” is all about.  The questions essentially boil down to two:

 1)      What is the advantage of becoming a deacon through the Lutheran Deaconess Association (LDA)?

2)      Why are you doing this?  (I think for some the question carries the underlying wonder as to why I would be doing this “at my age.”)

These are great questions and I want to address them in two ways.  First, I want to address my answers to those who might be in discernment about joining Lutheran Deacons [Lutheran Deacons is the name that has been selected by the initial group of men forming in the LDA and will eventually become a conference within the LDA].  Second, I will address why this is important to me.


 It is fair to say that becoming a deacon within the LDA is not for everyone, and, that is OK.  Deacons do not “own” diaconal ministry.  Every Christian is commissioned for Word and Service ministry at their Baptism, so this calling is not unique to any group of people.  Deacons do help sisters and brothers live out their diaconal call and help them identify their own unique way to live the call.  Deacons lead the way in demonstrating how Word and Service ministry is done in any vocation that serves.  Deacons serve congregations, but deacons also serve as public school teachers, nurses, doctors, chaplains and any number of professions that serve the needs of others.

 Why does a deacon then join something like the LDA?  One word: community.  The Lutheran Deacons offer a place for support, sharing and study.  Lutheran Deacons help each other in answering the call and Lutheran Deacons help lead the Church in its understanding of the diaconal calling modeled by Christ.  Currently, at 10:00 pm. every Monday, the Lutheran Deacons convene on Skype for sharing, caring and praying.  It is a time to walk together in a special way.

 A Deacon would affiliate with the LDA because he shares in the vision of the community and embraces the guiding principles of service and witness.  A Deacon would affiliate with the LDA to be engaged in honest conversation and prayer and to have a group of people who “get it.”  It is a community that offers a place to be.


 What I believe I am doing is answering a call.  I have been serving in a diaconal role for 42 years, but, what I discern now is that I am being called to be a part of a diaconal community of men. 

 The LDA has provided a home for women since 1919, but there has not been a similar place for men who are ministers of Word and Service to be in community.  I am thankful that the LDA is now opening the opportunity for men to be in community and for men to be a part of the vision and ministry of the LDA. 

 I have known of the LDA since I was in high school.  It wasn’t until I graduated from college and began my parish service that I actually had contact with members of the LDA.  As I came to know the deaconesses in the field,  I must say that I was very impressed with their preparation, their formation, and their living out of community.  I really wanted a way to be a part of that, or a similar, process.

 So, when invited by the LDA to begin this process of formation, I felt it was time to put up or shut up.  I am thankful for the opportunity.  For me, age is never a barrier.  As long as I have life and breath, I hope to be growing, learning and discerning.  And, partly because of my age and my life experience in forming women and men for ministry, I believe I can bring some insights to the table that can be helpful.

I am committed to being a part of a male diaconal community and to helping form a male diaconal community.  Lutheran Deacons within the LDA provides a place of groundedness for me, and, for this I give thanks.

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