Ordained deaconesses in the PCA

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dkicklig

Puritan Board Freshman
Here's a question for the PCAers

This morning the deacon nominations were listed, and there was a woman on the list. I did not believe that the PCA was in the habit of ordaining women as deacons. Are there any other PCA churches that have women as deacons?

To complicate the issue, this will be our first diaconate. My greatest concern is that this is the first departure from orthodoxy that I have seen, and it concerns me that there are other issues that are lurking in the wings.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by dkicklig
Here's a question for the PCAers

This morning the deacon nominations were listed, and there was a woman on the list. I did not believe that the PCA was in the habit of ordaining women as deacons. Are there any other PCA churches that have women as deacons?

To complicate the issue, this will be our first diaconate. My greatest concern is that this is the first departure from orthodoxy that I have seen, and it concerns me that there are other issues that are lurking in the wings.

David,

The first thing is to make sure that the woman listed was not an unordained assistant to the deacons. The BCO permits that, since the woman does not actually hold the office of deacon, and has no special standing except in her commitment to assist the deacons.

If that is NOT the case and indeed the woman has been nominated to the office of deacon, it is a violation of the BCO and is a chargable offense against the Session. If you are certain that it is to the office of deacon, and I were you, I would respectfully raise the issue with the Session. They simply might not be aware of the prohibition (as crazy as that sounds)

I had a discussion during a congregational meeting once where an uninstalled elder insisted to me in front of the congregation that the PCA allowed women deacons, but our church had not done that yet. He insisted that he read it in the BCO - which of course he could not have. He was confused, having misread the assistant provision.

Anyway, now this is ME, not necessarily you - if the Session were aware, and intended to flout the BCO because they believed that women deacons were permissible, I would file a complaint with the Session. If that did not work, I would file an appeal with Presbytery. If that did not work, I would take it to GA. THAT IS HOW IMPORTANT I THINK IT IS.

If for some reason the PCA GA did not address the matter - which is incredibly unlikely - I would probably leave the denomination.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Fred,
Wouldn't the GA branch of the PCA be held to the fire by the national branch or are states functioning autonomously?

[Edited on 10-31-2004 by Scott Bushey]
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by Scott Bushey
Fred,
Wouldn't the GA branch of the PCA be held to the fire by the national branch or are states functioning autonomously?

[Edited on 10-31-2004 by Scott Bushey]

Sorry, I went into PCA insider mode.

BY "GA" I meant the General Assembly (highest court) of the PCA, not Georgia.

Oops.
 

dkicklig

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for your response Fred. I have fired off an inquiry to the pastor and will be calling him in the morning. I'll let you know what happens.
 

Howard

Inactive User
I kinda understand David's concern regarding having women as ordained in the office of Deacon.

I am a member of the First Church of God (Anderson, IN) and my local church is approximately 100+ years old. Throughout that entire period the body never instituted a Diaconate.

Two years ago our pastor's vision included the proper structuring of the Church to include a Diaconate. He prayerfully picked 11 members from the Church which included 6 women.

After our ordination and during a period of formal training, I was chosen to Chair the Deacon Board. From personal experience I have to admit that the most enthusiastic, reliable, and supportive members under my care are the Deaconesses.

I know the male-female issue is of critical importance throughout the Scriptures, and the women that serve with me are equally fearful not to exercise outside the boundaries set forth in Scripture.

I can only report of my local congregation and the positive effects as seen within the Church.

Howard :pray2:
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Howard,
Welcome! Please click on the link at the bottom of my post entitled 'signature requirements' and set up your sig according to board policy.

Thanks,
SPB
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by Howard
I kinda understand David's concern regarding having women as ordained in the office of Deacon.

I am a member of the First Church of God (Anderson, IN) and my local church is approximately 100+ years old. Throughout that entire period the body never instituted a Diaconate.

Two years ago our pastor's vision included the proper structuring of the Church to include a Diaconate. He prayerfully picked 11 members from the Church which included 6 women.

After our ordination and during a period of formal training, I was chosen to Chair the Deacon Board. From personal experience I have to admit that the most enthusiastic, reliable, and supportive members under my care are the Deaconesses.

I know the male-female issue is of critical importance throughout the Scriptures, and the women that serve with me are equally fearful not to exercise outside the boundaries set forth in Scripture.

I can only report of my local congregation and the positive effects as seen within the Church.

Howard :pray2:

Howard,

Respectfully, do not make Providence your Bible.
 

dkicklig

Puritan Board Freshman
Here's the skinny.

1. The deacons will not be ordained, they will be commissioned. This will allow women to serve in a deacon role, but not wield any authority, and therefore skirting around the BCO. Basically a semantic loophole.

2. We will not be the only church that does this. Several PCA churches have adopted this practice to allow for deaconesses, including Redeemer PCA in NY.

I think this is major developing issue in the PCA, and really confirms to me the rift that is forming between progressive and conservative PCA churches. :(
 

ReformedWretch

Puritan Board Doctor
Sigh...

All this after I finally find a PCA is my area. I will speak to my pastor to see what he thinks of this. Thanks for sharing!
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
As a former deacon in the RPCNA, which does permit ordained deaconesses, who also has a conviction that there is no Scriptural warrant for women deaconesses, I can testify that this issue is destructive to the church at large in many ways. Although the RPCNA views the office of deacon/deaconess in a more administrative light than the PCA (I think), it still relates to the question of what is signified by ordination and what Scriptural limits are placed on that office. The effort to "skirt" the requirements of the BCO is clearly an end-run on Scriptural and constitutional requirements.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
David,

You are correct in saying that they are skirting around the BCO. I would recommend getting a ruling from your Presbytery or even writing a letter to the Commitee on Constitutional Business, which is a committee of GA.

In my humble opinion, if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck and even called a duck, its a duck! formally ordained or not.
 

dkicklig

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by wsw201
David,

You are correct in saying that they are skirting around the BCO. I would recommend getting a ruling from your Presbytery or even writing a letter to the Commitee on Constitutional Business, which is a committee of GA.

In my humble opinion, if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck and even called a duck, its a duck! formally ordained or not.

My pastor gave me a couple of prominent PCA churches that practice this. And the concept of commissioning vs. ordination came from the Stated Clerk.

I read something this morning from Richard Pratt's group
that indicated that there is a view that the PCA gives deacons too much authority, and that is why women are excluded. It seems there is a movement in the PCA to change the BCO, but it's going to take a long time.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Painful, but not surprising. Yes indeed the powers that be have winked at Redeemer's violation of the spirit of the BCO.

Notice that the result of this game is to deny the Biblical office of deacon altogether, the doctrine of ordination, and to create division and schism, all ion the name of inclusivism.

It sickens me.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Fred,

I am really not that surprised. Though the BCO recognizes only 2 offices of Deacon and Elder and they are both "equal". In all practicality the PCA has a very heirarchial view of the these offices. TE's don't expect much from RE's and even less from Deacons. If you can push a lawn mower, you can be a Deacon.
 

duke

Puritan Board Freshman
Ha ... you guys are firtunate. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland not only ordains deaconesses but Elder-esses ... yes, thats correct ... female Elders. I attend a PCI church (even though I am credo-baptist) and I have to admit that the whole structure of overseers and deacons needs stripped down and built up Biblically. We have about 500 attending our church and over 1000 associated with it through family connections etc. We have about 30 Elders (including the women) and 1 deaconess.

The problem is that it is taught (implicitly I think) in the Presbyterian College that women are permitted in these roles. You then have pastors who are passionately evangelical but don't want to teach on such a divisive issue as they don't see it as important to the health of the church.

So I have had a choice in my joining a church ... Baptist church, which for the most part are old school dispensational ... Brethren, which are all old school dispensational ... Reformed Presbyterian Church, which would not receive me into membership due to my belief about baptism ... Free Presbyterian church, which is just nasty and angry and schismatic ... Presbyterian church, which has the problems I just mentioned. In the end I had to think about all these issues and make an informed choice.

Pray for the church in Northern Ireland please.

Duke
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by duke
Ha ... you guys are firtunate. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland not only ordains deaconesses but Elder-esses ... yes, thats correct ... female Elders. I attend a PCI church (even though I am credo-baptist) and I have to admit that the whole structure of overseers and deacons needs stripped down and built up Biblically. We have about 500 attending our church and over 1000 associated with it through family connections etc. We have about 30 Elders (including the women) and 1 deaconess.

The problem is that it is taught (implicitly I think) in the Presbyterian College that women are permitted in these roles. You then have pastors who are passionately evangelical but don't want to teach on such a divisive issue as they don't see it as important to the health of the church.

So I have had a choice in my joining a church ... Baptist church, which for the most part are old school dispensational ... Brethren, which are all old school dispensational ... Reformed Presbyterian Church, which would not receive me into membership due to my belief about baptism ... Free Presbyterian church, which is just nasty and angry and schismatic ... Presbyterian church, which has the problems I just mentioned. In the end I had to think about all these issues and make an informed choice.

Pray for the church in Northern Ireland please.

Duke

Greetings, brother! It is often on my heart to pray for the church in Ulster. I have worshipped in congregations of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland and use their psalter to this day. Although not in theological agreement with aspects of the Free Presbyterian Church, I do have great respect for Ian Paisley. My Huguenot ancestors came to America by way of Ireland and I love the Scotch-Irish heritage that we have in America. Let us indeed pray for our cousins across the pond.
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
Where in the Bible do we get the idea that our church servants (deacons as the word is translated literally) have any authority? Servants serve, they do not lead.

The whole problem here is not that women are being put in these positions but that the PCA and other such denominiations assign authority to the deacons when the Bible assigns them NONE.

In the NT the deacons did what the church and elders told them to do. They are servants and servants do not rule.

Phillip
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by pastorway
Where in the Bible do we get the idea that our church servants (deacons as the word is translated literally) have any authority? Servants serve, they do not lead.

The whole problem here is not that women are being put in these positions but that the PCA and other such denominiations assign authority to the deacons when the Bible assigns them NONE.

In the NT the deacons did what the church and elders told them to do. They are servants and servants do not rule.

Phillip

Philip,

Did Jesus have authority? He served. Service does not mean reliquishing authority.

Do ministers/pastors have authority? They serve.

The very fact that an office exists means that it has authority. Otherwise there would be no reason for the office. Why would we need an office - or QUALIFICATIONS for that matter- if anyone could serve in that capacity?
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
The scripture certainly teaches that deacons are a distinct officer in the church. (i.e. the Office of deacon). This office is perpetual. They are not to preach the word, or administer the sacraments, but to take special care in distributing to the necessities of the poor. They have been given authority to do this (see the Authority given to them to serve in Acts 6, and the non negotiable qualifications of the office in 1 Timothy 3).

Elders are also servants. They serve the church in an official capacity as preachers or heralds of the word.

Both offices (i.e. official capacities) are authoritative for their given tasks. In other words, it would be as wrong to tell an elder not to preach as it would to tell a deacon not to distribute to the poor. Both are officially given official rights to minister in their specific capacities.

Both lead by example. Everyone is to minister to one another, however, some have greater responsibility than others in that official office.
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
Thought I'd revive this thread rather than start a new one.

I'm going through the membership process at my local PCA church. I have discovered that the elders have adopted the Redeemer NY position on deacons and deaconesses. They even have a paper from this church in their membership class materials. I am new to the PCA, so I'm trying to figure out how widespread this teaching is and how they reconcile it with the Book of Church Order. If nothing else, I find the attitude to be schismatic.

Are there any rulings or "case law" on this matter?
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
What is the Greek and literal translation of this verse? (taken from the ESV):

1 Timothy 3:11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.

Actually, the most significant word is Gunai/kaj
This word can mean "women" and it can mean "wives." It is used each way fairly commonly. The word (in the ESV) "their" is supplied to help it fit the context. I think from the context it is most natural to see that it is the deacons' wives that are being discussed (hence I think that the ESV - and virtually all other modern translations - get it right).
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
From the little I understand, "their" (as in "their wives") is implied. Perhaps it would more literally read "Women likewise must be dignified..." or "Wives likewise must be dignified..." In any case, it is not the same root that deacon has.

I was more interested in continuing the discussion about deaconesses in the PCA.

[Edited on 27-Aug-2005 by SRoper]
 

BrianBowman

Posting Priviledges Revoked
Originally posted by webmaster
The scripture certainly teaches that deacons are a distinct officer in the church. (i.e. the Office of deacon). This office is perpetual. They are not to preach the word, or administer the sacraments, but to take special care in distributing to the necessities of the poor. They have been given authority to do this (see the Authority given to them to serve in Acts 6, and the non negotiable qualifications of the office in 1 Timothy 3).

Elders are also servants. They serve the church in an official capacity as preachers or heralds of the word.

Both offices (i.e. official capacities) are authoritative for their given tasks. In other words, it would be as wrong to tell an elder not to preach as it would to tell a deacon not to distribute to the poor. Both are officially given official rights to minister in their specific capacities.

Both lead by example. Everyone is to minister to one another, however, some have greater responsibility than others in that official office.

Matt, could I be missing something, or did Stephen, after being ordained a Deacon in Acts 6 go on to preach one of the greatest messages in the Bible in Acts 7? In all humility and sincerity, I'll admit that I know neither the Reformed Confessional Standards nor the BCO very well. However, in nearly the same breath that the Scriptures introduce the office of Deacon, one of em preaches.

[Edited on 8-27-2005 by BrianBowman]
 

JKLeoPCA

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by SRoper
Thought I'd revive this thread rather than start a new one.

I'm going through the membership process at my local PCA church. I have discovered that the elders have adopted the Redeemer NY position on deacons and deaconesses. They even have a paper from this church in their membership class materials. I am new to the PCA, so I'm trying to figure out how widespread this teaching is and how they reconcile it with the Book of Church Order. If nothing else, I find the attitude to be schismatic.

Are there any rulings or "case law" on this matter?


Is there a copy of the mentioned paper available online anywhere?

:detective:
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
So Gabe, you think female deacons are permissible? I haven't studied the controversy but I tend to believe its acceptance was spurred by the general wave of feminism that swept the RPCNA in the late 19th century.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Even if the passage meant "women" (which I do not believe is the case), it would be no more likely that the "women" who are to be "likewise dignified" are deacons, then the deacons in v. 8 must be elders. The construction is the same:

1 Timothy 3:2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, {etc}

1 Timothy 3:8 Deacons likewise must be dignified,

(διακοÌνους ὡσαυÌτως)


1 Timothy 3:11 Their wives (or women) likewise must be dignified,

(γυναῖκας ὡσαυÌτως)

Notice that the structure is identical. No one argues that since deacons must be likewise as the elders that deacons are a subset of elders. In fact there is stronger Biblical evidence that deacons act like elders than that women act like deacons. Stephen certainly seems to act like one who "gives himself to the word and doctrine" and the only other deacon we see is Phillip - "the Evangelist." There are no other prominent deacons.

So is anyone ready to argue for deacons as elders? Didn't think so.

This is the wedge of perhaps one of the greatest issues of our day, as the created order and God's design is under constant attack from within the Church.

[Edited on 8/27/2005 by fredtgreco]
 
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