Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and the Saint Louis University School of Social Work are offering a dual master’s degree program for students interested in pursuing careers as deaconesses and social workers.
The dual-degree Master in Social Work from Saint Louis University and Master of Arts in Deaconess Studies from the seminary will become available this fall for eligible students. It is designed to foster an ongoing relationship between the church’s ministry and service to the community by encouraging more deaconesses to pursue careers in social work.
Historically, deaconesses are dedicated to serving the church in its work of charity, compassion and human care. They often serve congregations, foreign missions, hospitals, nursing homes and social ministry agencies.
“This new dual-degree program will be a true blessing not only for the church, but also for the world in which it serves,” said LCMS President Dr. Matthew C. Harrison. “This program will allow deaconesses the opportunity to be trained theologically as well as in social work, equipped immediately as graduates to take up their callings in social service organizations around the world.”
This marks the first time the two schools have worked together to offer a dual degree. Concordia Seminary is one of two seminaries of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. (Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., also offers a Master of Arts in Deaconess Studies.) Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit university ranked among the top research institutions in the nation.
“This collaborative partnership is an example of the creative and fresh thinking the church needs as it seeks to bring the Gospel to people in this post-church culture in which we live,” said Dr. Glen Thomas, LCMS executive director of pastoral education. “This new program greatly expands opportunities for deaconesses to bring Christ to people in new locations and settings.”
Through the dual-degree program, students will receive theological education and formation along with the framework, skills and resources necessary to engage in social work that is tailored for the ministries and service organizations recognized by the LCMS.
“We are very excited about the new opportunities that this relationship with Saint Louis University offers to our students and the church,” said Dr. Erik Herrmann, director of deaconess studies at the seminary. “As workers dedicated full time to the church’s ministry of compassion, charity and human care, deaconesses trained as social workers will be able to help the church on both the local and national level to better embody the vision of the church as a community that is known in the world by its love for others.”
Most internships in the new program will be offered through a Lutheran social service agency.
“We believe the dual-degree program will increase professional services to help the church address the social needs of the communities it serves,” said Dr. Donald M. Linhorst, director of the university’s School of Social Work. “The School of Social Work already has strong working relationships with Lutheran service agencies and we look forward to this new opportunity to work together.”
Posted June 16, 2011