Tag Archives: Deaconesses

Deaconesses and the Camel’s Nose

by Paul Ladouceur  |  ελληνικά  |  ру́сский  |  српски

Opponents of women deacons in the Orthodox Church advance two principal arguments: the “natural and economical order of male and female”; and the conviction that women deacons will lead inexorably to a series of other unwanted changes in Orthodoxy.

Advocates against the ordination of women to liturgical or even non-liturgical functions argue that there is a natural order of male and female, by which God intended that women be subordinate to men. This natural order theory calls into question a fundamental principle of patristic anthropology, the ontological equality of men and women. This principle is expressed very forcefully in Discourse 37 (6-7) of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, in the context a discussion on chastity and adultery. Gregory writes notably:

The wife who takes wicked counsel against her husband’s bed commits adultery, and thence flow the bitter consequences of the laws, but on the contrary the man who takes a prostitute against his wife suffers no sanction. I do not accept this legislation; I do not approve this custom. It is men who laid down these laws, and this is why this legislation is directed against women. […] God does not act thusly, but he says: “Honor your father and your mother” […] Notice the equality of the legislation: one and the same creator of man and woman; one dust for both; one image; one law; one death, one resurrection. […] Christ saves both through his suffering. Did Christ become flesh for the sake of the man? He did this also for the sake of the woman. He died for the man? The woman is also saved by his death.

Continue Reading…

Women for the Church Chanters, Readers, and Their Sanctioned Roles

by Donna Rizk Asdourian  ελληνικά  |  ру́сский  |  српски

It is a very happy time for many Orthodox Christians across the globe since the order of the female sub-diaconate was re-installed in Alexandria, Egypt by Patriarch Theodore of the Greek Orthodox Church of all of Africa this past February 2017, where he ordained five women to the female diaconate (although without laying on of hands, that is cheirothesia not cheirotonia).  Although overly due, this historic event in our modern day gives many hope that the Church at large is heeding the pastoral needs of its people. Female deacons existed in the Orthodox Church, and has been kept in some of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, as Dr. Petros Vassiliadis’ mentions regarding the revival of the female diaconate this past November.

The role of women in the Church is, of course, broader than an ordained female diaconate.  Indeed, men and women across the Christian world have thought more seriously about the role of women in the church in recent decades. They understand the pastoral benefit conferred to the entire community when women are more integral in the life of the Church.

Contrary to what many may assume, active roles for women is the Church’s Tradition. Continue Reading…

A Dialogue on the Mission of St. Phoebe Center for the Deaconess

Two essays by Rev. Protodeacon Peter Danilchick and the Board of St. Phoebe Center for the Deaconess  |  ελληνικά  |  ру́сский

These essays are part of a series on the diaconate in the Orthodox Church derived from talks delivered at the St. Phoebe Center for the Deaconess “Renewing the Male and Female Diaconate in the Orthodox Church Conference” in Irvine, California in October 2017.

 

Diaconal Service in Church Administration and Governance

Rev. Protodeacon Peter Danilchick

I have been privileged to serve for the past 42 years in the holy diaconate in Christ. For the deacon, to live is to serve and to serve is to live. This living and serving is, however, not for oneself—it is for the Church, the Body of Christ.

When we think about governance, we might imagine a board, like a parish or diocesan council, meeting in a conference room, making “big decisions.” Well, governance, properly understood, is far more intimate and grassroots than that.

The icon of governance in the Church is the episcopate. In the New Testament, St. Paul uses the word episkopous to refer to the overseers of the flock, who also serve as guardians and stewards. The image of the Good Shepherd immediately springs to mind, the one whose sheep know his name and the one who seeks after the lost and lonely ones.

But how do deacons fit into the governance structure? Continue Reading…

Two Views on the Female Diaconate

by Rev. Protodeacon Brian Patrick Mitchell and Valerie A. Karras  |  ελληνικά  |  ру́сский

Editors’ Note: In collaboration with the St. Phoebe Center for the Deaconess, we begin a short series of posts on the diaconate in the Orthodox Church derived from a Conference in Irvine, CA in October 2017The following is a double post offering two very different views of the historicity and validity of the female diaconate.

The Danger of Deaconesses

Rev. Protodeacon Brian Patrick Mitchell

For all of the research done on Orthodox deaconesses in recent decades, we still know very little about them. There are two main reasons for this: One is that their role was always very limited, so there’s just not much said about them in ancient texts, compared to what’s said about bishops, priests, or deacons.

Another reason is that their presence was also always very limited: There weren’t many of them anywhere except in some of the larger cities of the eastern empire like Constantinople. In many places, there weren’t any at all, and for a long time, there weren’t any anywhere in the Orthodox Church.

That’s something to keep in mind when we think about the place of deaconesses in Orthodox tradition: The whole Church has never had a tradition of having deaconesses, but the whole Church has had a tradition of not having them—even after having had them, in some places.

The question is, why? There are two main reasons. Continue Reading…