Depressingly old and normal news...
(David) Officer nomination season is upon us in many churches of the PCA. Among those going through the process again at this time of year is Redeemer Presbyterian of New York City, where Pastor Tim Keller recently sent a letter to members seeking elder and deacon nominations. And, as before, Pastor Keller makes certain to emphasize the following points about Redeemer's authority structure:
Women and men serve alike as officers in Redeemer's structure--Keller just baldly states this.
Though deacons and elders are both ordained offices of the church according to Scripture and the Book of Church Order, Keller minimizes the authority of the diaconate by saying its work revolves around "practical deeds of mercy."
Male deacons, ordained officers of the church, serve under diaconate director Ms Jenny Chiang.
Women deacons are apparently elevated above male deacons by their inclusion as advisors in session meetings.
Note the link in Tim Keller's letter to Redeemer's online "description and qualifications of the offices of elder, deacon and deaconess" in which there is no mention of masculinity as a prerequisite for service as an elder. (See beyond the jump for the full text of the letter.)
November 1, 2010
Dear Redeemer Member:
As you probably know, November is Redeemer's officer nomination month. Once a year members have the privilege and opportunity to recommend other members for the offices of elder, deacon and deaconess.
As our four new lead pastors and I undertake the work to multiply Redeemer into four generative congregations, there are more opportunities to serve than ever before. Identifying new leaders within our congregation has always been a priority at Redeemer, and we need your help to find members who have the right gifts and experience to serve on the Session and the Diaconate.
There are 46 men and women currently serving on the Diaconate and 25 men serving on the Session as ruling elders. These men and women have been elected by the congregation and have gone through theological and practical training to master the skills and the information necessary for these positions.
Elders are men who serve on the Session and provide spiritual and administrative leadership to the congregation through oversight of Redeemer ministries, leaders, and members. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.
The primary work of the Diaconate is practical deeds of mercy. Deacons and deaconesses minister to those in our church family who find themselves in distress, crisis or emergency situations caused by illness, job loss, long-term unemployment, or other immediate physical, material, spiritual or emotional needs. They also assist elders with membership interviews, and deaconesses provide input and support to elders working on complicated shepherding situations. Your faithful giving to the Mercy Fund over the years enables the Diaconate to care for our congregants during this economic recession. In addition to nominating Diaconate candidates, you can help this ministry by encouraging congregants facing hardship to call the Diaconate Helpline - 212-726-1334.
Accepted nominees will begin training in January of 2011. We are looking for men and women who are members of Redeemer and willing to co-labor with us in these ministries. Please read the description and qualifications of the offices of elder, deacon and deaconess on this pdf or online.
Please prayerfully consider your elder, deacon and deaconess nominations and place a nomination form, with your signature, in the offering basket at any service during the month of November or mail/fax to:
Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Jenny Chang, Diaconate Director
1359 Broadway, 4th floor
New York, NY 10018
You may also submit a nomination online.
May God give you discernment as you consider those who may be qualified to serve in these vital roles.
Dr. Timothy J. Keller