The History of the Kaiserswerther Generalkonferenz
The history of the Kaiserswerther Generalkonferenz (General Conference) is a history of the rapid development of the Deaconess Mother Houses, which have established themselves as a model of success, starting with the first Mother House founded by Theodor and Friederike Fliedner in Kaiserswerth in 1836. When the Kaiserswerther Generalkonferenz was founded in 1861, there were already 27 Deaconess Mother Houses operating throughout Europe and deaconess institutions were also founded in Russia and the USA. Many dedicated women and men embraced the model of “Diakonie in the community” and adapted it to their own circumstances.
What began as an initial exchange of experiences in 1861, developed into a forum for regular exchange: the Kaiserswerther Generalkonferenz, which is held every three years. Theodor Fliedner expressed the goal in his letter of invitation to the first conference: "Many important points of the idea of Diakonie can be discussed, experiences can be shared, the differences of some views balanced and good advice can be given in order to bring the concept of Diakonie closer to the people and make the Church of Christ more subservient". The first General Conference in Kaiserswerth was attended by the delegates of 13 Deaconess Mother Houses.
In 1916, the German Deaconess Mother Houses founded the Kaiserswerther Verband (league) to be able to discuss important questions, particularly during the First World War. The German houses, Diakonische Werke and diaconal institutions continue tobe members of the international Kaiserswerther Generalkonferenz.
Today, the almost 100 houses that are members of the Kaiserswerther Generalkonferenz reflect the diversity of diaconal and ecclesiastical developments in the recent decades. The large Diakonie-based social welfare enterprises with their communities are joined by ecclesiastical protestant communities. They are all united by their common roots and the special character of “Diakonie in the community”.
A detailed article by historian Dr. Norbert Friedrich about the history of the
Kaiserswerther Generalkonferenz is available for download.