Sem to launch online deaconess program

Beginning this fall, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, will offer an online Master of Arts in its Deaconess Studies program.  Those accepted into the program will complete their studies through a combination of electronic distance learning and on-campus intensives.

The full-time degree, which has received preliminary accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools, can be completed in two and a half years, but students may opt to take courses on a part-time basis.

The curriculum will be structured to take into account the experience and workload of students, and will include rigorous theological study, with training in practical, diakonal skills.  Full-time students will take two online courses in each of the fall and spring quarters and two two-week intensives in each of the winter and summer quarters.  All students also will take part in fieldwork.

“Many women serve in roles involving diakonal work and aspects of spiritual care without having had formal theological training at the graduate level,” said Dr. Arthur Just, director of Deaconess Studies at the seminary.  “Concordia Theological Seminary is delighted to be able to honor their diakonal work by providing an opportunity for these women to study theology at an advanced level and gain an M.A. so that they can be certified as deaconesses.”

Women admitted to the program must have:

  • completed a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution or the equivalent.
  • been a member of an LCMS congregation for a minimum of two years.
  • served at least five years in a congregation or institution where their work has included an element of spiritual care (such as parish nurse, care ministry, etc.), and will continue to serve in this way throughout the course of their study.

While the seminary has been offering distance learning pastoral training programs since the mid-1990s, this is the first time an online program for women, leading to an M.A. and certification as a deaconess, will be offered.

“The approved online M.A. in Deaconess Studies demonstrates the commitment of the seminary to providing creative ways to teach deaconess students the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need for diakonal work in their specific context,” said Dr. Lawrence Rast, the seminary’s academic dean.

For more information about the new deaconess program, send an e-mail to or call Dr. Arthur Just at 260-452-2138 or Dr. Cyndy Lumley at 260-452-2225.  The seminary also offers an on-site program that leads to a master’s in Deaconess Studies.

Also offering deaconess-training programs are Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, Ill.

Posted Aug. 12, 2009

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