Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Greek Orthodox Female Deacons (or should that be "Deaconesses"?)

Pastor Fraser Pearce asked the question, and we found the answer. Does the Greek Orthodox church ordain women as deacons? The answer can be found here, in the America Magazine.

The question remains: are these women ordained as "deacons" or as "deaconesses". You might think this is hair splitting, but in fact the question is not so much as to whether they are "ordained" or not, but whether a deacon and a deaconess are the same species of ordained person.

I find it interesting to compare what the Greeks are doing to the innovation of Bishop David Walker of Broken Bay in instituting a new full-time ministry for celibate, ecclesial women. Note that these women will not be preaching. Bishop Walker says that "I would see these people often in service areas, of actually working with people who are deprived or with disabilities, social ministries, I would see them being on committees that would be helping to resolve issues for the church."

There is absolutely no doubt that there were female deacons (or "deaconesses") in the early church, and, at least in the mind of the Greek Orthodox Church, that these were "ordained" (yes, I am using the pejorative quote marks too). But what was their role? And what was their relationship to the male deacons? Or was the "order of deaconesses" a completely different order to the "order of deacons"?

The fact that the ritual for ordaining deaconesses is quite distinct and has quite a separate history from the rite for ordaining deacons would seem to indicate the latter.


At Sunday, August 27, 2006 6:44:00 pm , Blogger malleebull said...


You would hope that Bishop of Broken Bay explores this idea further...and perhaps takes heart from the recent Greek moment you refer to.

I've heard nothing but good things happening in the Diocese of Broken Bay [perhaps due to it being outside the jurisdiction of Pell?].


At Sunday, August 27, 2006 8:50:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Ah, well, that all depends on your perspective, I guess.

Bishop Walker's initiative will only succeed if it is very, very carefully carried out in conformity with the Church's canons and teachings.

But, as they say, a rose by any any other name...


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