Woman Deacons: East Lanier Community Church (PCA) steps back...
(Tim) Several years ago, I asked a stated clerk if there were any papers circulating within our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, justifying the widespread practice of electing and installing woman deacons. He sent me this paper titled, "Women in Ministry at East Lanier Community Church: An Explanation and Defense of the Position of the Session Regarding the Role of Women in Ministry at East Lanier Community Church." It was the only thing he'd come across.
So then, in a recent post "Sexuality and the PCA...," I linked East Lanier's paper to similar ones written by Pastor Tim Keller of New York City and Pastor Sam Downing of Denver--both PCA pastors at the time. (Sam Downing since left the PCA for the RCA, taking City Church Denver with him. Rocky Mountain Presbytery blessed his departure at their last meeting. Here's a critique of Pastor Downing's paper done at the request of a member of Rocky Mountain Presbytery.)
These pastors and their papers are representative of a widespread movement in the PCA that practices women leading and exercising authority over men in the church in every position except ruling elder and pastor. Most of these churches have female deacons serving alongside male deacons, without distinction, and they commonly characterize the teaching of Scripture on sexuality in the church as "A woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do." In my own Ohio Valley Presbytery, the best representative of this position is Redeemer Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis which was recently found to be out of accord with the Book of Church Order in her practice of women deacons, and is currently in dialog with presbytery concerning how best to bring her practice into conformity with our PCA Constitution.
Then, this past week, the Session of East Lanier Community Church released a letter...
dated May 21, 2008 announcing the elders' decision to change East Lanier's practice of women deacons in order to avoid dissension. I quote:
The problem was that our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), does not allow women to hold the ordained office of deacon. In order to do what we felt the Bible allowed, we simply did not ordain any of our deacons. Instead we commissioned them. This is the practice of many other churches that also have women deacons.
At the May 19 meeting of the elders, however, we decided that it was best to fall more in line with the spirit of PCA's Book of Church Order (BCO) and begin to ordain men to the office of deacon. ...Our priority here is the peace of the church.
Praise God. May we all be led to the unity of God's Word on this issue.
* * *
NOTE: We've added a new category on the blog titled "Woman Deacons."