Monday, September 15, 2008

Update: PCA and Deaconesses

Recently two articles appeared in our denominational magazine, By Faith, concerning the issue of deaconesses. The PCA does not define a role for 'deaconness' so the topic has been a hot topic of sorts. In recent years some innovative pastors and churches have sought a greater role for women in the local church. Some have chosen not to fill the office of ordaining male deacons in favor of 'commissioning' men and women to do the work that deacons would normally do. Sometimes this body is called a 'diaconate' (board of deacons) and sometimes it is called a 'Mercy Ministry Team.'

Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church falls into this category. By clicking on his name you can read his article. Be sure to read the comments.

Ligon Duncan, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi and who is also the President of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals has written an article contending for the current practice of ordaining deacons as defined in our Book of Church Order. NOTE: He is in favor of women being allowed to serve alongside the deacons as appointed by the board of elders but he refrains from calling them deaconesses. Click on his name to read his article and read the comments.

A somewhat middle position was recently articulated by Phil Ryken, pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. His church elects, ordains and installs men to the office of deacon. They also 'commission' women to the role of deaconness to assist the deacons in much the same way they 'commission' Sunday School teachers and those who serve on short-term mission projects. There is no confusion about office or responsibilities in this approach and it gives women an important place of service. This pretty much articulates my perspective (though the commissioning makes me queasy) and I'm glad that he took the time to post this approach. Click on his name to read his article.

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