A NEWS RELEASE
From National Office of the ELCIC
Winnipeg, May 26, 2004 (ELCIC) -- The Ninth Biennial Assembly was a significant moment in the 120-year history of the Deaconess Community of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). After more than a year without a motherhouse or a directing deaconess, the community met May 14-17 here at the Cenacle Retreat House and elected Sister E. Anne Keffer to a four-year term as its directing deaconess.
"I can only believe that our deaconess community continues because it is God's direction," said Keffer, director, Prairie Centre for Ecumenism, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and a member of the ELCIC. She plans to move to Chicago as directing deaconess.
Keffer said, "The external challenge at this time is to connect with the church and the world in a way that is meaningful for diaconal ministry." The deaconess community has some work to do with how it is perceived by those outside it, she said.
"The 'who we are' is connected to the kinds of calls we will be asked to take within the church," Keffer said. She said she will work toward the day when the directing deaconess does not have to find calls for deaconesses but has Lutheran congregations and agencies waiting in line.
Keffer received a majority of the 43 votes cast on the assembly's fifth ballot. Sister Phyllis J. Enck, director of Christian education and youth ministry, Christ Lutheran Church, York, Pa., was the other candidate on that ballot.
The Deaconess Community is a community of lay women consecrated by the church to a ministry of Word and service. Sisters in the community work in a variety of settings such as health care, Christian education and social services.
Deaconesses are theologically trained and professionally prepared for their careers. They are called to ministry by congregations and synods of the ELCA and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).
For more information see the home page of the Deaconess Community