Woman deacons: two articles from Aquilla Report worth reading...

(Tim) One news source worth checking out because it isn't dependent on denominational money and the approval of denominational leaders for its existence is Dominic Aquila's eponymous Aquila Report. And concerning the PCA and woman deacons, here's a good article from Aquila Report summarizing this past assembly's actions on the matter.

Also from Aquila Report, here's an article reporting on the actions taken by my own Ohio Valley Presbytery concerning Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis in the matter of their practice of woman deacons. Here is most of the text of the recommendations made by a committee that had been appointed by presbytery to deal with this matter. These recommendations were adopted by Ohio Valley Presbytery...

5.0 RECOMMENDATIONS

The Committee is saddened by the lack of conformity to the Constitution of the PCA on the part of the Session of Redeemer Presbyterian Church especially in this case where the very heart of our form of government is at risk. However, the Committee also feels compassion for our brothers who now find themselves in a difficult circumstance. After prayerful consideration, the Committee makes the following recommendations to the Ohio Valley Presbytery.

5.1. That the OVP receive this report of the Committee’s investigation as information.

5.2. That OVP adopt the following declarations:

5.2.1 Whereas, it is the constitutional position of the PCA that “In accord with Scripture, [the office of deacon] is open to men only” (BCO 7-2, 24-1), Therefore,

5.2.1.1 assigning the title of deacon to women is out of accord with the Constitution of the PCA, and

5.2.1.2 having women function in the constitutionally defined role of deacon is out of accord with the Constitution of the PCA, and

5.2.1.3 the position that “there is no scriptural basis to differentiate between men and women serving as Deacons under the authority of the Session” is an unconstitutional position.

5.2.2 Whereas, it is the constitutional position of the PCA that “Those who have been called to office in the Church are to be inducted by the ordination of a court” (BCO 17-1) and requires that “every church shall elect persons to the offices of ruling elder and deacon ... keeping in mind that each prospective officer should be an active male member who meets the qualifications set forth in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1” (BCO 24-1). Therefore,

5.2.2.1 it is unconstitutional to elect women to office in the PCA and

5.2.2.2 it is unconstitutional to elect men to office in the PCA and not induct them to office by ordination.

5.2.3 It is the position of the OVP that differences in these areas may be allowed as exceptions of belief, but not practice.

5.2.4 These declarations should be used by the Examinations and Credentials Committee of OVP to clarify for those seeking admission to OVP the position of and practice acceptable within OVP.

5.3 That the Ohio Valley Presbytery direct the Session of Redeemer Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis, Indiana to bring their diaconal practices into full conformity with the Constitution of the PCA as articulated in this report.

Comments

That is encouraging news. Do you know the elders there and will they comply?

What's driving this extreme hostility to deacon's assistants?

As I read the charges, it seems that the basic problem is "there might be someone suitable as a deacon who hasn't been ordained."

(As a past deacon's assistant who benefited greatly from training and mentoring by both elders and deacons, I find the consistent hostility to deacon's assistants troubling.)

The problem is having "deacon's assistants" in lieu of having actual deacons. It's driven by a desire to have men and women doing mercy ministry in equal capacity in all ways, and since the women can't be ordained, the solution is to fail to ordain the men as well. If you asked these churches, "If the BCO allowed the ordination of women deacons, would you be ordaining all these men and women instead of just 'installing' them?" the answer would be, "Yes, absolutely." It's a way to stay within the letter of the law, though not, I'd argue, the spirit.

Could the problem here be an expansive view of mercy ministry? If a Reformed congregation and denomination were to scale such ministry back to an older understanding of the diaconate -- assistance to the needy within the household of faith rather than a program for social transformation -- would the need for ordaining women as deacons exist?

Daryl, I think you have hit on a key point being missed in this whole debate--namely what is the role of the diaconate and what is "mercy ministry?" I think many of these churches would fundamentally still want to ordain women. But I think you are asking the right question, IMO.

Dear Daryl,

Absolutely, in one sense. "Mercy ministry" has almost no connection to biblical diaconal service. Instead it has become the PCA's social gospel. Yet I fear that the Scriptural linkage between diaconal service and power in proclamation of the Word is strong enough that we must be careful not to err by reducing the office of deacon to simply waiting on tables.

Several years ago I questioned the PCA's prevailing understanding of "mercy ministries" in this post.

In Christ,

David Bayly

David,

Your post on mercy ministry is great. The other catch phrase that drives me nuts is "Justice" as in "Ministries of Mercy and Justice" when it is clear that the idea of Justice is just what is currently the liberal agenda in Washington and whatever is pushed on elementary school kids in public schools.

I wrote a post regarding the role of deaconesses in the early church, mentioning specific roles, but I would like to be more specific:

1. Assisting Elders in baptizing women.

2. Helping Catechize women.

3. Care for the sick (mercy ministry).

They were to be ordained only if single or widowed, and over 40.

Ron

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