In the Baptist Church, deaconesses have a number of different duties, including preparing the communion elements, assisting with baptismal preparations and counseling or mentoring young women in the church and the community. Deaconesses also visit the poor, sick or elderly and provide comfort to those in mourning.
In the early Christian church, the role of deacons and deaconesses was to help take care of the physical needs of the church's members, such as by taking food to widows and the elderly. In the Book of Acts, the Twelve Apostles picked seven men to be the first deacons. The Apostles decided to create the office of the deacon so that they could focus on preaching and let others take care of the church's other needs. This is similar to the modern distinction between a deacon and an elder, as the elder is supposed to take care of the spiritual needs of the church while the deacon meets the physical needs.
While the Baptist Church has deaconesses, there are many others that debate whether or not women should be allowed to serve in this role. Still, there seems to be much evidence that there were numerous deaconesses in the earliest years of the church, including historical documentation of two deaconesses who became martyrs in the second century.