Wednesday, August 26, 2009

One Deaconesss Number

Relevant to the discussion below, we're looking for comparative data on deaconesses. And please do look at Sister Cheryl's website, which supports her book, In the Footsteps of Phoebe. It's linked above. (We'll overlook the anti-ELCA snark that greets the reader up front).

As of April 2008, the ELCA's Deaconess Community claimed 76 rostered women, "ranging in age from 27 to 91." It's down to 72 now, according to a more recent press release.

As for the LC-MS, a Concordia Seminary article from 2004 claims that there "are about 100" deaconesses serving. (Curiously, and perhaps tellingly, the article proposes deaconesses as a remedy for an apparent shortage of LC-MS clergy). The website of Concordia University, Chicago, gives these numbers, which we assume to be reasonably current:

There are 172 Commissioned-Deaconesses on the LCMS Roster. Of those:
111 are Active
19 are on Candidate status
17 are on Non-Candidate status
25 are Emeritus

None of this is decisive, both because it is vague and because it doesn't give data for comparison prior to the ordination of women by the LCA and ALC. All of which is further complicated by the different history of deaconesses in the various church bodies. But it does, in a preliminary way, suggest that, per capita, a denomination which does not ordain women does have significantly more consecrated female lay workers than one which does ordain women. So perhaps Morgan is onto something.

4 comments:

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

What, exactly, are the duties or expectations of Deaconesses? What about AIMs? I only know two AIMs. One is a music director, although not schooled in music, and one is the same as a pastor, but is paid less. I have a relative who is a seminary graduate, but didn't complete all the hoop jumping due to needing to support his family, currently does church related work, but is thinking of becoming an AIM just to try to get some status within the church. He currently is often asked to preach as a guest "pastor," but there are technically things is can't do.

Diane said...

I personally know a woman who is an AIM, but not a Deaconness (she calls herself a diaconal minister). She is a young woman, by the way; if you included AIMs, would the number of "deaconnesses" be greater than 76?

Father said...

The AIMs and Diaconal Ministers are two distinct categories of ELCA lay minister, both of them separate from the Deaconess Community. At first glance, it doesn't make too much sense to lump them in together.

And of course the other two orders include men, which sort of defeats the purpose of this exercise.

But if we did, just for the sake of the argument, what would we get? Inquiring minds really do want to know.

The Diaconal Ministry Community Annual Report lists 157 rostered DMS, of whom the vast majority are female (128 vs 29 men). So there are more female DMs than deaconesses, by a significant margin.

As for AIMS, I can't find an online roster, so I have no idea how many there are or how they break down by sex. A glance at the 2004 ELCA yearbook, however, suggests that there are a comparatively large number -- 600 or so. Probably more. I didn't even try to estimate the m/f ratio, though.

So, yes, all told, the ELCA has a larger cadre of rostered lay ministers than I was considering. If we only include Deaconesses and DMs, the number of women breaks 200, and if we throw in the female AIMs, it is surely much larger. Al of which tends against Morgan's point.

Father said...

The AIMs and Diaconal Ministers are two distinct categories of ELCA lay minister, both of them separate from the Deaconess Community. At first glance, it doesn't make too much sense to lump them in together.

And of course the other two orders include men, which sort of defeats the purpose of this exercise.

But if we did, just for the sake of the argument, what would we get? Inquiring minds really do want to know.

The Diaconal Ministry Community Annual Report lists 157 rostered DMS, of whom the vast majority are female (128 vs 29 men). So there are more female DMs than deaconesses, by a significant margin.

As for AIMS, I can't find an online roster, so I have no idea how many there are or how they break down by sex. A glance at the 2004 ELCA yearbook, however, suggests that there are a comparatively large number -- 600 or so. Probably more. I didn't even try to estimate the m/f ratio, though.

So, yes, all told, the ELCA has a larger cadre of rostered lay ministers than I was considering. If we only include Deaconesses and DMs, the number of women breaks 200, and if we throw in the female AIMs, it is surely much larger. Al of which tends against Morgan's point.