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Theodor Fliedner

1800-1864. Founder of the deaconess organization in the German Lutheran church. Born in Eppstein/Taunus, he was educated for the ministry at Giessen and Göttingen. As a young pastor in Kaiserswerth near Düsseldorf he became acquainted with the Mennonite practice of appointing deaconesses, and in 1833 he established a home for ex-convicts which he placed in charge of a woman. In 1835-36 he set up a school for children which also trained women teachers, and a hospital in 1836 which gave nursing instruction. By reviving the office of deaconess, Fliedner provided opportunities for unmarried women to be active in public life. He founded other mother houses in Germany, modeled after the Kaiserswerth Sisters, and introduced the idea into the United States and Palestine.