Kim Sherwin serves as deaconess at St. Stephen in Liberty. Sherwin notes that deaconesses serve in a variety of ways. “When your church says ‘I have a pastor’ you kind of know what they do, but with a ‘I have a deaconess’ it’s a lot harder to define,” says Sherwin, “Even me, everything changes from day to day.” For Sherwin, like so many church workers in 2020, this even meant becoming familiar with video technology and posting many videos online during the pandemic shut-down. But, she notes, deaconesses work in many areas: end-of-life situations, some work with people in troubled circumstances, yet others help with confirmation and women’s ministry or music ministry, pregancy centers, emergency care...the list goes on.

When reflecting on her journey to becoming a deaconess, Sherwin notes that it wasn’t a direct path. “When I was younger, I sort of said, ‘Hmm.. I’m not sure if I want to go into church work, they seem busy on Sundays,” laughs Sherwin. But after serving on a mission trip in Japan, Sherwin wasn’t quite sure what was next for her. “If someone would pay me to go on mission trips, that would be ideal,” she clarifies, “which, of course, it’s not the money, but about wanting to serve people.” A member of her congregation, who had formerly served as a lay deacon, recommended the role of deaconess. “I didn’t even know what a deaconess did,” says Sherwin. “The more I looked at it, a deaconess uses her unique gifts and abilities to serve in a variety of different ways. It just seemed to click with me and be what I wanted to do.”

“[Being a deaconess] can be incredibly fulfilling, because you can see so many different parts of people’s lives. To be the hands and feet and voice of Jesus–it can be a very powerful thing. It gives you a different view of what the church looks like. So many are in church for an hour or two every week. But you can see the church from the inside out and upside down.”