Call Stories of Diaconal Ministry

Social Work and Homelessness

My call to diaconal ministry is a continual process of learning and growing. I went to Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa and my majors were social work and religion. I knew I wanted to be involved in social services and eventually become a social worker, but I always had this desire to incorporate my faith into my career more fully. I loved my religion classes and had thought about going to seminary, but becoming ordained just did not seem to be the right fit for me. Social service was still the area that I was most interested in.

During my senior year in one of my religion classes, we had people from different vocations in the church come and talk to our class about all of the choices. Among them was a diaconal minister. I had never heard of this before and that was the first time I had a little pin-prick in my heart that this may be what I was called to do. I eventually decided to do Lutheran Volunteer Corps after graduation, which was a life-changing experience.

During my year there, I thought more about diaconal ministry and decided I needed to explore this idea further. My first step in doing this was going to the Ventures in Vocation seminar at Luther Seminary and that is where it became more and more apparent to me that this is where my calling is. I wasn't sure exactly what kind of diaconal ministry was right for me, other than knowing that I wanted to work within a social work setting. Since I was assured that discernment is a process and not always a lightening bolt experience, I am still discerning my call.

Currently I am considering work with the homeless because of my experience working at a homeless shelter for youth last year in LVC, but I trust that God will guide my path whether or not that is where I end up.

Youth and Family

I graduated from Southwest State University in Marshall, Minnesota in 1998, majoring in sociology with a minor in social welfare and business. I began at Luther Seminar the following fall in the youth and family program.

The summer between my graduation and beginning seminary, I heard about diaconal ministry through e-mail. From then on I decided to explore the ELCA candidacy options before entering the process. I finally got up the nerve to attend a diaconal meeting in December, 1998 and subsequently applied for diaconal ministry candidacy and was entranced in May, 1999.

Since then I have attended the Diaconal Formation Event in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and have been endorsed. My candidacy process has been a fast track and I'm excited to see how God will use sociology, social welfare, and youth and family studies for future ministry.

I will graduate in May, 2000 and my diaconal project is planning servant events for the confirmation programs at my internship site for youth and family ministry. My candidacy committee in Southeastern Minnesota and the diaconal community have been very supportive!

Ministry with the Aging

My discovery of the diaconal ministry program came as a pleasant surprise at the end of my second year of study here at Luther—or maybe I should say the diaconal ministry program found me!

Most of my life I have worked with children and youth, both in the church and in my experiences as a literature teacher and school guidance counselor. I spent time with college-age students as well, when I taught counseling/psychology courses at Central Michigan University.

I never dreamed, however, that I would ever burn with a passion, as I do now, to live among, learn from, and minister with the elderly. God has placed a burden on my heart for those who struggle with the limitations and afflictions of aging and illness, and I have no choice but to follow God's blatantly clear and disturbingly forceful call on my life.

I am an endorsed diaconal ministry candidate working at two sites for my field experience. One is North Heights Lutheran Church where I serve their elderly group called "Young at Heart." In this ministry, I enjoy programming activities and outings, leading Bible studies, coordinating educational programs, doing pastoral care visitations, and representing the elderly on the Pastoral Care Board.

My second site is Whitehouse Good Samaritan Nursing Home where I have the pleasure of leading worship services and morning devotions, perform bed-side and monthly memorial services, one-on-one visitations, therapeutic recreation activities and outings, family counseling, sitting vigil with dying residents, and serving on the Spiritual Care Committee.

For my diaconal ministry project I am creating a workbook for laity who have a desire to work with the elderly in the congregation or within the community. This handbook discusses the issues that the elderly face and offers educational materials, devotional materials, and Bible studies that address these particular needs. I am currently utilizing the materials in both the congregational and nursing home settings.

I am thoroughly excited about being part of the diaconal community and have been warmly welcomed in. I pray for continual guidance and for a Christ-like heart in order to bring others into a more intimate relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Parish Nursing

I became aware of my call to Diaconal Ministry after completing the Parish Nurse preparation course. I was excited to blend my nursing with ministry. I began seminary with a strong conviction to become equipped theologically for health ministry. At the same time, I served Martin Luther Manor as their Parish Nurse Coordinator. I have helped congregations of various denominations begin Parish Nurse programs within their congregations.

I completed a master's degree in Leadership at Luther Seminary, summer of 2000. Following candidacy approval for Diaconal Ministry and receiving a call to Martin Luther Manor, I became consecrated on October 1, 2000.

As Martin Luther Manor/ Meadow Wood's Diaconal Minister, I will serve as the Director of Health and Community Ministries. Among my roles, I will continue as the Parish Nurse Coordinator, serve on Martin Luther Manor's Executive committee for leadership within the facility and work with leadership in Bloomington Conference congregations. I will bring worship services to MLM's community homes, Adult Day Centers, and lead worship on a rotating basis within the facility.