Tag Archives: Deaconesses

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…

The Revival of the Order of Deaconess by the Patriarchate of Alexandria

Petros Vassiliadis

The Center of Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies “Metropolitan Panteleimon Papageorgiou” (CEMES) has recently published the Proceedings of its international conference on “Deaconesses, the Ordination of Women and Orthodox Theology”, both its English version and the Greek version.

The book is dedicated to the Patriarch of Alexandria, for his decision to revive the order of Deaconesses, and it was presented to him in the margin of this year’s conference of Orthodox spirituality in Bose Monastery, Italy. The Patriarch expressed his thanks and requested the Orthodox theologians to continue to support his mission.

In the meantime, a “Response to Monastic Objections by a Deacon of the Orthodox Church” was circulated, after its author read a letter from an Orthodox monastery that objects to the decision of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria to revive the order of deaconesses a year ago. The letter ended as follows: “In my humble opinion, as a deacon of over three decades, the setting and situation experienced in the missionary Church of Alexandria is arguably the most appropriate and providential context for instituting women readers and restoring women deacons. This would not necessarily create a new tradition or institution (θεσμός) in the Church, as critics maintain. It would actually serve as the application of hierarchal discernment and dispensation in specific missionary circumstances where the Church faces pressing challenges and unconventional needs. And that is surely the most justifiable and just response to the Christian Gospel”. There were also rumors that some missionary agencies, probably related to that monastic community, have even threated to stop supporting the African missions!

As a result, nine of the most prominent Orthodox liturgists (Emeritus Professor Evangelos Theodorou, of the Theological School of the University of Athens, Alkiviadis Calivas, Emeritus Professor of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Paul Meyendorff, Emeritus Professor of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, George Filias, Professor of the Theological School of the University of Athens, Panagiotis Skaltsis, Professor of Theological School of the University of Thessaloniki, Stelyios S. Muksuris, Professor of the Byzantine Catholic Seminary, Nicholas Denysenko, Jochum Professor and Chair of Valparaiso University,  Phillip Zymaris, Professor of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and John Klentos, Professor of Graduate Theological Union), issued the following statement, Continue Reading…

Orthodoxy, African Deaconesses, and Missed Opportunities

by Kerry San Chirico

earlychurchwomen

The headline from the official news agency of the Romanian Patriarchate read, “Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria performs first consecration of deaconesses.” There were mostly heartened and hopeful responses on my Facebook feed. I “liked” the page in the formal if shallow Facebook sense. As such news inevitably takes time to digest, those with keen eyes began to weigh in. “This is not an ordination but a consecration,” one scholar reminded us, noting critical differences between the words cheiriothesia (blessing) and and cheirotonia (ordination). Another pointed out that, given the photographic evidence, this rite was more akin to ordination of a subdeacon, a minor order. Was this then a minor occurrence? Some might wish that. Continue Reading…