DEACONESS MINISTRY

HISTORICAL SKETCH OF A DEACONESS
by Bertha Sullivan

Many of the early Christian churches had deaconesses, but a lot of times they did not have the official name of deaconess. The women in the church served as helpers. They assisted in the baptism of women, greeted the congregation, served as ushers and maintained order in the church. The women were referred to as assistants to the deacons and were present at all interviews between women and the priest, bishop or deacon. One interesting observation about the early Christian churches is that the deaconesses were to be ordained for the ministration toward women. The order of Deaconesses died out of the Eastern church by the 18th Century, but resurfaced in 1830.

It was not until 1836 that a Lutheran pastor established the first institution for the special training of church women. These women were trained to relieve the needs of the poor, nurse the ill, deliver social services and provide Christian education. By 1950, there were 60,000 Deaconesses in the world, 1,500 located in the United States, and formations of these sisterhoods are growing daily.

Today, the selection of the Deaconess varies depending on the church. In some instances, the Deaconess is so regarded because her husband is a Deacon. Other churches appointed sainted Christian women. Some women are appointed by the pastor to only prepare and help serve Communion. No matter what title is given to these women, their main purpose is to enhance the spiritual matter of the church, and to help foster peace, love and Christian unity in the membership by witness and behavior.

PRESENT DEACONESSES
Sis. Shelia Graham-Bryant, President
Sis. Patricia Ball
Sis. Cheryl Burnett, Vice President
Sis. Pearl Ershery
Sis. Betty Forde, Asst. Secretary
Sis. Jewell Fye
Sis. Sophia O’Meally-Green
Sis. Erma Jones
Sis. Alma Kinsey, Treasurer
Sis. Ruth Lewis, Chaplain
Sis. Caretta Mayes, Secretary
Sis. Anna McNeal
Sis. Queen Miller
Sis. Carmen Turner
Sis. Stacy Burgess
Sis. Carol Dorsey
Sis. Josephine Folks
Sis. Charlotte Fuller
Sis. Betty Gallman
Sis. Estella Johnson
Sis. Mary Jones
Sis. Veronica Lynn
Sis. Sheila Mays
Sis. Annie Miller
Sis. V erneine Monroe
Sis. Catherine Smith
Sis. Verna Warren
Sis. Rose Watson
PAST DEACONESS PRESIDENTS
Sis. Katie Lyles
Sis. Leola Ball
Sis. Gussie Daniels
Sis. Eddye Gallman
Sis. Vanessa Banks
Sis. Mamie Gallman
Sis. Beatrice Lester
Sis. Betty Gallmon
Sis. Cheryl Burnett (2 terms)
Sis. Pearl Jones
Sis. Lillie Williams (2 terms)
Sis. Bertha Anderson
Sis. Lucille Ferguson
Sis. Belinda Williams
Sis. Sandra Barr
Sis. Patricia Ball (2 terms)
Sis. Sheila Mays
Sis. Carol Dorsey

HONORARY DEACONESSES
Sis. Julia Roberts
Sis. Bertha Sullivan