The Role of Deaconess
*On Thursday, June 25 Tim announced via email the establishment of the formal role of Deaconess at All Saints. Read his email below:
Last Sunday I began our four-week summer class - Unity & Diversity: The Role of Men and Women in Life and the Church. There are two main reasons why I'm focusing right now on teaching this class instead of preaching in worship. One reason is that conversations about gender and sexuality are ubiquitous in our culture, as ESPN's decision to give their Arthur Ashe Courage Award to Caitlyn Jenner anecdotally illustrates. Discussions on these topics are being had pervasively outside the Church; and we need to have them inside the Church as well, not only to demonstrate to ourselves and others that we aren't afraid of them, but also to know what the Scriptures teach and how Christians across culture and history have believed.
The second reason for having this class at this time is to explain a new formal role that is being established at All Saints - that of Deaconess. Over the last year, I've been in discussion with our Pastors, Elders, and staff about the biblical, theological, and historical rationale for this role. At our last monthly meeting the All Saints Session (the Pastors and Elders) voted to approve the commissioning of women in the leadership role of Deaconess to serve alongside All Saints' ordained Deacons in diaconal ministry to our church and community.
Last Sunday, at the beginning of our first class, I offered several reasons why this decision is coming now in the life of our church - you can listen to them here. Please know how excited I am for the many ministry opportunities that this new role will afford All Saints and also, how aware I am of the numerous questions this decision raises, many of which I hope to address in the next three classes:
- Are Deaconesses at All Saints different than Deacons? Yes.
- What are the differences? That's the fourth class (July 19).
- Does All Saints still believe there are differences between men and women forming the basis for different roles in marriage and the Church? Yes.
- What are those differences? That's the second and third class (June 28 & July 12).
- Upon what are the differences and commonalities between men and women based? God, who is unity and diversity in Himself - that was the first class.
I am thankful for the opportunity to open the Scriptures together to answer these questions, and ask that you please pray - for us as a church as we take this step of faith, for me as I teach this class - pray that charity would reign, that truth would be upheld, and that wisdom would be embodied. Pray also that in all things All Saints would continue to be formed into the Body of Christ to bless and serve Austin. And come to the class, if you can, to join in our conversation.
Peace, in Christ,