© the diakonia™ program 2011 The diakonia™  Program was started by the Rev. Stephen P. Bouman in 1977 when he was pastor at Atonement Lutheran Church in Jackson Heights, Queens, NY. Atonement, along with a church in Connecticut (First Church in Stamford) and a church in Harlem (Central Methodist) received a grant from Union Theological Seminary for a one-year study to determine what each needed to do to reach out to the community. As a result, Pastor Bouman developed the diakonia™ Program to train lay people to be servants of the Lord. As he has frequently said, "to take the message of the font and the table (altar) out the front door of the church into the community." This would be a program of spiritual formation and theological education of the "breadth but not depth of theological seminary." To maintain the grassroots of the program, local parish pastors were invited to teach the courses, and the courses were offered locally. The first classes were held in Queens, New York and 6 students completed the two-year program of study in 1980. Over the years, additional locations in the Metro New York area were opened (and sometimes closed) based on need. When Pastor Bouman received a call to be pastor in New Jersey, he took the program with him across the Hudson River and over the years an additional seven locations were planted in the New Jersey Synod. In 1994, with a grant from the Metropolitan New York Synod, a Latino location was developed, and since then Latino locations have been meeting in the Metro New York area. Through the efforts of graduates who have relocated, diakonia has been planted in other ELCA Synods. The diakonia Program National Board continues to be engaged in expansion and publicity efforts in a number of additional ELCA Synods. History In the first 30 years more than 1,600 persons have completed the diakonia Program course of study started by Rev. Stephen Bouman. At the present time, there are multiple locations in the following Synods: New Jersey Synod – 1982 Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod – 1998 Metropolitan Chicago Synod – 1999 Metropolitan New York - 1977 Northern Illinois Synod – 2003 Greater Milwaukee Synod – 2006 Florida/Bahamas Synod – 2006 Indiana-Kentucky Synod 2008