Starting today, the Lutheran Deaconess Association will be known as the Lutheran Diaconal Association. The change more accurately reflects the organization serving both deacons and deaconesses in education and formation in recent years.
The Lutheran Deaconess Association (LDA) was formed in 1919 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, beginning with its first deaconess students studying nursing and theology. In 1943 the LDA moved to Valparaiso, Indiana. Over the course of almost 100 years, more than 790 deaconesses have completed the education and formation process, serving in locations across the country and around the world in a variety of ways. In 2012, the LDA began accepting men into the education and formation program and in 2014, consecrated the first deacon, Ben Ema.
On Saturday, June 23, 2018, David Rojas Martínez was consecrated by the LDA at the Chapel of the Resurrection at Valparaiso University. Deacon Rojas Martínez, a 2015 Valparaiso University graduate, is the first to be consecrated under the name of Lutheran Diaconal Association. Born in Cuernavaca which is located in the Central Mexican Valley and is known as the City of Eternal Spring due to its year-round, spring-like weather, David also loves Minnesota where he did his internship in a rural community. He says, “[Deacons] are people who want to be professionally trained in sharing the good news of Jesus by our everyday living.”
“As an organization, we have been forming and educating men to become deacons for six years. Our new name better reflects the LDA’s mission to form women and men called to this ministry," said Lisa Polito, Executive Director of the LDA. "I am thrilled for David and for all the deaconesses and deacons in our diaconate. The process behind this name change was extensive and we are eager to see where God leads."
A task force appointed by the LDA Board Executive Committee undertook a multi-year process in order to recommend a name change to the LDA Board of Directors. Under the direction of a strategic planning consultant, the staff developed a survey and representative survey population. More than 450 recipients—including board and committee members, deaconesses, deacons, volunteers, and other supporters of the LDA—received the survey. After reviewing the results from more than 45% of those surveyed, the task force recommended the new name—Lutheran Diaconal Association—for the Board of Directors’ approval.
The LDA has a history of being flexible and adaptable, able to respond to changing needs in church and world. Until 1988, LDA students were required to be enrolled at Valparaiso University. The LDA then recognized a growing need for an education and formation process catering to non-traditional, non-resident students. The LDA created a more adaptable program for these students and individuals across the country, at different stages in life, were invited to enroll. Today’s education and formation program is a combination of academic requirements, hands-on ministry experiences, student seminars, and spiritual development. Each student is formed in his or her identity as ‘one who serves’—all in the context of intentional Christian community, whether on Valparaiso University’s campus or around the world.
For questions or for more information, please contact Deaconess Lisa Polito, Executive Director of the Lutheran Diaconal Association or visit www.theLDA.org.