PCA and woman deacons: N. Calif., Philadelphia, and Metro NY Presbyteries act on identical proposal; 3 complaints filed...

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(Tim) In the past month or two, members of three presbyteries have made a concerted effort to get their presbyteries to adopt an identical proposal endorsing unordained women and unordained men serving together "as equal partners" in the diaconate.

Each of the presbyteries was called to endorse the following declarations concerning the propriety of woman deacons serving within the PCA:

Therefore, be it resolved that (Metro New York, Philadelphia, or Northern California) Presbytery;

Acknowledge that ministers or sessions may hold and practice the following views ...while being “in conformity with the general principles of Biblical polity” (3rd ordination vow, BCO 21-5 & 24-6).

1. Only men are ordained as deacons and they conduct the diaconal ministries of the congregation.

2. Only men are ordained as deacons, yet Sessions select and appoint others--men and/or women--to assist the deacons in their work.

3. Only men are ordained as deacons and women are selected and appointed by the Session to serve as deaconesses who assist the male deacons.

4. Only men are ordained as deacons, yet the congregation elects women with the approval of the session to serve as deaconesses who assist the male deacons.

5. Men are ordained as deacons and women are commissioned as deaconesses without ordination, though both the men and the women are elected by the congregation and serve as equal partners in the diaconal ministry.

6. Both men and women serve as equal partners in diaconal ministry and are often described as “deacon” or “deaconess” though no one is ordained to this ministry.

The proposal was eventually displaced by another proposal submitted to Philadelphia Presbytery by Steve Smallman (former member of the RPCES study committee headed by Jim Hurley that overtured Synod in favor of women deacons) and Phil Ryken (Sr. Pastor of Tenth Presbyterian).

Northern California and Metro New York Presbyteries adopted the proposal.

Although the original proposal called for Metro New York Presbytery to overture General Assembly with these six declarations, Tim Keller (who was a signatory to the proposal) specifically recorded that he did not agree...

with overturing General Assembly. Filling out the picture, when the proposal was adopted by Metro NY Presbytery a couple weeks ago at their March meeting, one of the two men who presented the document, Pastor Craig Higgins, explained to his fellow presbyters that Teaching Elders Bryan Chapell and Joseph Novenson had suggested the Presbytery not overture General Assembly with this proposal.

Joe Novenson is the Sr. Pastor of Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church, the PCA congregation close by the PCA's Covenant College where Covenant's president, Niel Nielson, and his wife, Kathleen, hold their membership.

Bryan Chapell is President of the PCA's Covenant Seminary.

What will Tim Keller, Joe Novenson, and Bryan Chapell advise concerning the wisdom of taking this proposal to next year's 2010 General Assembly?

Meanwhile, three complaints have been filed against the presbyteries' actions--two against Northern California Presbytery and one against Metro New York Presbytery.

May God bless these judicial labors of compassion and love and kindness and unity and peace and gentleness and grace.