The Concordia Deaconess Conference (CDC), affirming its desire to glorify the only true God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — and to reflect His love and grace in Christ, establishes this Code of Ethics. This Code, rooted in Holy Scripture and the Confessions, is intended to establish clear standards and definitions for the professional behavior and practices of its members. This Code of Ethics expresses the Concordia Deaconess Conference’s unity of belief and outlines members’ responsibilities and obligations to God, to the church, to colleagues, and to each individual who is to be served. This Code serves the conference as a mirror, rule, and curb and is intended to teach, strengthen, and affirm its members.
Preamble to the Code of Ethics
The primary mission of the CDC is to support deaconesses as they bring Christ’s caring presence, love, and perspective to others. A deaconess points to Christ, who is present in Word and Sacrament, provided by the Office of the Public Ministry.
Biblical history and the tradition of the LCMS have shaped CDC’s Code of Ethics. Diaconal service is mentioned in the New Testament, as in the case of Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea (Rom. 16:1). Throughout subsequent centuries, interest in formal diaconates flourished and waned. Following a revival of diaconal ministry in nineteenth-century Europe, German Lutherans brought their vision of diaconal service to the United States. In 1919, the Lutheran Deaconess Association within the Synodical Conference was established, and in 1934, the Lutheran Deaconess Conference was founded. Changes within these two groups prompted nine deaconesses to establish the CDC in 1980, after the LCMS voted to establish its own deaconess training program in 1979.
Members of the CDC support the Office of the Public Ministry and serve in an auxiliary office. Commissioned by the church, a deaconess provides diaconal service with emphasis on spiritual care, teaching the faith, and works of mercy. In this way Christ’s own peace, hope, and mercy are conveyed to those in need. A deaconess may be called to serve in the parish, in institutional settings, or in foreign and domestic missions.
The following statements are an expression of these principles regarding the professional conduct of a deaconess.
In her promises made at commissioning, a deaconess commits herself to serve in accordance with the Word of God, the Ecumenical Creeds, and the Confessions of the church. Therefore, a deaconess of the CDC is a woman who:
1. Believes, teaches, and confesses the Scriptures as the infallible and inerrant Word of God and the Lutheran Confession as the true exposition of that Word.
2. Points others to Word and Sacrament provided by the Office of the Public Ministry.
A. Upholds the deaconess office as auxiliary to the Office of the Public Ministry, which it supports and assists.
B. Refrains from performing the distinctive roles of the Office of the Public Ministry: public preaching of the Word, administering the Sacraments, and exercising the Office of the Keys.
3. Maintains a life rooted in Word and Sacrament, through worship, confession and absolution, study, and prayer.
4. Is a communicant member in good standing in an LCMS congregation or partner church.
By the grace of God a deaconess is committed to grow in love for those she serves, to strive for excellence in her skills, and to adorn the Gospel with a godly life (John 13). In accord with the promises made at her commissioning, a deaconess of the CDC shall strive to:
1. Aptly express the faith in word and deed.
2. Properly apply the distinction between Law and Gospel in her care-giving and teaching.
3. Continue education in the Scriptures and theology.
4. Continue education that is necessary to provide excellent service in her setting.
5. Demonstrate a servant attitude, e.g., loving, compassionate, hospitable, selfless, sincere, humble, respectful, approachable, encouraging, nurturing.
6. Maintain standards of professional integrity, e.g., uses appropriate language, speaks the truth in love, is trustworthy, manages time well, fulfills responsibilities, works diligently, and resolves conflict according to Biblical principles. A deaconess respects the work of her colleagues, speaks the truth in love, and uses appropriate channels to express differences.
7. Maintain confidentiality, except in cases where immediate danger is perceived or safety becomes an issue.
8. Maintain government standards as they apply to her position, i.e., mandatory reporting, privacy and confidentiality laws.
9. Seek opportunities to extend the church’s hand of mercy to the household of faith and the community.
10. Exercise servant leadership without prejudice or favoritism.
11. Uphold the sanctity of human life from conception to death.
12. Demonstrate competency in her areas of responsibility, e.g., youth, music, education, care-giving and developmental disabilities.
13. Make us of allotted time for vacation and time off, maintaining healthy limits and boundaries for personal and family life.
14. Be devoted to the well-being of others: physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
15. Remain within her competence in counseling situations and refer to other professionals when needed.
16. Strive to avoid overlapping relationships that result in the impairment of professional discretion and impartial judgment.
17. Maintain appropriate sexual boundaries.
18. Limit sexual intimacy to heterosexual marriage as instituted by God.
19. Neither accept nor offer gifts that involve expectations that would extend, curtail, or alter the service offered.
20. Encourage and uplift sister deaconesses.
21. Demonstrate commitment to her professional organizations, including the CDC.
22. Be aware of warning signs in her own behavior and mood and seek help to address these needs.
(Adopted May 18, 2005)
Posted June 7, 2005