This year we’re putting an emphasis on stories that highlight leadership and leaders from around the ELCA. “I’m a Lutheran leader” is an online feature that highlights the many ways people are leaders in the church. Bishop Eaton’s Leadership Initiative encourages all of us to seek out and mentor people who show a gift for ministry. To learn more about the initiative, go to

Sister Melinda Lando

Congregation: St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, New York City

Occupation:  Pediatric nurse practitioner

I felt called to Ministry of Word and Service after meeting a deaconess at the church my family joined when we moved to Reading, Pa. While I’ve always had a call to ministry, I was intrigued and learned of the Deaconess Community through our parish deaconess, Sister Millicent Drake. To be a deaconess was to be a part of a community of women who understood the call to diakonia and served with joy and fervor. This was something I really wanted to be a part of. The Deaconess Community provided a means of ministering to God’s people, wherever that would be.

I help equip others to be leaders in their communities by modeling and serving as an example of one who lives by her faith and personal integrity. It’s not always easy, many times being a lone voice for what I feel is correct. In doing so, I hope I provide others with the courage to stand up for what they believe to be correct, even if they are in the minority. God’s work has never been easy, and many times it hasn’t been popular.

In my work as a deaconess, I minister to many children and their families. I’m a pediatric nurse practitioner in the South Bronx. I have been in the South Bronx since 1985. I encounter families from all over the world with different languages, cultures, religions and expectations. My role is to bring the gospel to every person through my words and actions in providing health care to children with autism, ADHD, seizures, migraines and mental health issues.

Being part of a church community helps keep me grounded. It provides a place of restoration and renewal. This is true for both my church communities—St. John’s and the Deaconess Community.

I’m a Lutheran leader in a way that’s best summed up in the Deaconess Community mission statement: “Compelled by the love of Christ and sustained by community, we devote our lives to proclaiming the gospel through ministries of mercy and servant leadership.” Amen!!

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