Rocklin, California

Deaconess Pamela Boehle-Silva

“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

Luke 6:36

What is a Deaconess?

“Deaconess,” from the Greek word diaknonos, means “servant.”  A deaconess of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) is a woman trained, called and commissioned by the church to provide diakonal care with special emphasis in works of mercy, spiritual care, and teaching the faith.  In this way, deaconesses serve Christ and His church, guiding toward Word and Sacraments ministry provided by pastors.  A Lutheran deaconess uses her theological knowledge, skills and training to express the Gospel through acts of human care in whatever capacity she fills.  (Deaconesses in the LCMS. The Lutheran Church –Missouri Synod.  World Relief and Human Care, 2009)

 “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

Luke 6:36

Using Luke 6:36 as the basis for diakonal service, one can quickly see that mercy is at the heart of the office of deaconess.  Deaconesses bring Christ’s mercy to those broken by sin, sickness, grief and pain.

The Office of Deaconess is not so much about a person, but it is an identity rooted in Jesus Christ.  It is a vocation of service to our Lord and His Church.  This diakonal service began with Jesus as we read in Matthew 20:28, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Deaconesses are part of a long tradition of women who have served Christ by serving our neighbor through very specific acts of kindness and mercy.  As Dr. Arthur Just, Jr., former head of deaconess studies at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne said, “The office of deaconess is a well worn mantle and a continuance of history that many have taken before you.”

As mentioned, the Office of Deaconess has been in the Lutheran church since the 1830’s.  However, many theologians believe that one of the first deaconesses may have been Phoebe, named by St. Paul in his letter to the Romans in chapter 16.  And for many years, deaconesses were also nurses who tended to the poor and sick.  While there have been changes with the work of the deaconesses, the heart or identity of this office has not changed.  Again, it is our baptismal identity in Christ which gives rise to our living out this vocation of mercy.

Deaconess Pamela was commissioned and installed as deaconess at Holy Cross Lutheran Church on June 3, 2011. She was consecrated as deaconess at the cathedral in Kisumu, Kenya on June 22, 2011, in the midst of my deaconess sisters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya.

In addition to being a deaconess, she is a Registered Nurse, and a Parish Nurse. As a nurse, she brings with her a certain body of knowledge and skills which helps her as she ministers to people in body and soul.  As a parish nurse, she has tried to see people as God has made them:  body, mind and spirit.  Her visits have included devotion and prayer.  As a deaconess, she continues to carry this out with a deeper theological understanding of the Word and Sacraments, enabling her to better articulate the hope that lies inside all believers and herself.  She points people to the cross of Christ— the source of life, forgiveness, salvation, peace and joy in the midst of sorrows and trials.

You may find her writings and other works, especially in connection with Kenya, at Always Mercy.


  1. Linda Just

    I think I would like your congregation very much. I also think you are a good deaconess. My husband says that yours is a VERY hospitable congregation!

  2. Jim Lee

    Hello from Jim Lee in Vacaville. Lois just told me of the GREAT time yesterday at TLC 🙂 What a blessing to share your experience of the world with the world. God bless and keep you!

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