Complaint filed against PCA Metro NY Presbytery (Deaconesses)

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Romans922, Apr 24, 2009.

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  1. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Josh has already made a nicely explained request of you on this. Drop it.
     
  2. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    No, that is only a part of the problem.

    Calling folks who are not deacons 'deacons' is another part of the problem, and one that can't be ignored.
     
  3. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Does the BCO say that Deacons have to be ordained?
     
  4. gene_mingo

    gene_mingo Puritan Board Junior

    Sure looks that way to me Tim.


     
  5. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    OK, I asked

    Josh answered

    and then quoted from the relevant section of the BCO that all the rest of us who have been following the debate know about. You know, the place where it says all Deacons have to be ordained.

    So, does Keller's Church in New York or Brian Kay's church in San Luis Obispo California have Deacons who are not ordained?

    http://www.trinityslo.org/images/Trinity_Positions.doc

    PS, this is not a trick question. Brian Kay says

     
  6. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    No. In the PCA the office of deacon is an ordained one. If you aren't ordained, you aren't a deacon. Use of the term in connection with unordained folks is a misuse of the term. Words have a defined meaning in this context.

    If folks are misusing words, they should either be educated or disciplined as appropriate, by the responsible church courts.
     
  7. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Well, that seems clear to me. And when I read this sort of thing by Brian Kay

    even in a Presbytery which up until a few months ago had a practicing homosexual as Moderator, I wonder where the men are in this denomination.

    Note to Moderators: The relevant committee decided that NorCal's long term Moderator's adultery by sodomy was no longer a private church matter, and can be spoken of publically, so there is no reason at all it can't be brought up here.
     
  8. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I've been trying to speak in general terms, not deal with specific men and bodies in my recent posts. (I'm not sure I was as diligent about that upthread).

    But let me take a shot at editing that quote to something that might be a bit more precise.

    "Folks that we refer to as 'deacons' may hold their credentials as either ordained or unordained, and some of them really are deacons".
     
  9. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    "and those Deacons who aren't Deacons we call Deacons just to prove we aren't being sneaky"
     
  10. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    "...and all deacons we won't ordain because we believe women should be allowed to be deacons. So, we give both men and women the title deacon (or deaconess) because we want them to serve in the office, and because we don't want to be in violation by ordaining women. So nobody gets ordained, but hey, that's okay, the work is getting done, and we get to have our deaconnesses"
     
  11. WarrenInSC

    WarrenInSC Puritan Board Freshman

    Ok, my head's dizzy now you win...

    Ok - you win - my head is dizzy now.

    Moving on... I understand Metro Atlanta Presbytery passed an essentially look-a-like resolution this week. Hopefully our good Lord will raise up gentle but firm TE's and RE's in that Presbytery to hold it to account as well. Some of my best friends are members of.....oh - did I say that?:oops:
     
  12. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree the initial intent behind the article refers to smaller churches. But that intent is not specifically stated and the phrase "for any reason" leaves a lot of wiggle room if you ignore the initial intent. Plus, if it's ok for laymen to assist the deacons, then there is no reason why they can't assist the elders who have assumed the diaconate role. The justification would be whatever reason made it impossible for the session to secure ordained deacons. So, in theory, you could abide by the letter and not be in violation. Bring in the original intent regarding smaller/newer churches and of course it all falls apart. :2cents:
     
  13. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

     
  14. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Amen. I'm not disagreeing with you, only exploring the hypothetical explanations some might attempt to offer. In light of the evidence I've seen so far, I don't think the church in this situation has a legitimate justification for the practice under the BCO, but of course that is for the church courts to decide when both sides are heard.
    :2cents:
     
  15. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    *Okay; some moderators have conferred. If someone with authority to speak to the matter shows a moderator why this is private we will consider removing this thread, but as far as we know at present this is a public complaint, duly filed with the Presbytery and not a private matter.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2009
  16. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    I am in the PCA, so I definitely don't like to see division in our denomination.
    And although there are definitely going to be different opinions on what Scripture says on the matter within the PCA and the Reformed faith in whole, (other, reputable Reformed churches do have women deaconesses--RPCNA, at least) I think that as long as our denomination deems it a sin, we should not play with words so as to use women in any way as deaconesses.
    Women can serve in a million different ways, and they can serve alongside the deacons in many different ways. And there may be the same women always volunteering to serve, but to give them a Scriptural title, that your denomination does not support, is wrong.

    At our church my husband was called upon for the month to open and close the church. This includes duties typically done by deacons: unlocking, turning on lights, putting the hymn numbers up in the front of the church, taking out the garbage, turning out lights, locking up, etc. However, my husband does not consider himself an unordained deacon. He is simply serving in a way that was delegated to him by the deacons. My husband did not suddenly feel like he was a leader of the church nor that he could now sit in on diaconal meetings to make decisions. Could a woman be delegated a similar duty? Of course! There is nothing in scripture that says, "Only men should unlock doors and make coffee." But she should remain a member of the laity as my husband did.

    I personally am unconvinced either way about women deaconesses. There clearly were some in the Bible...were they not really deaconesses? I don't know. But the point is, even if you disagree with your church, you should do what you vowed to do. If you think they are wrong, there are proper means to change the rules. Breaking them, however, is not one of them.
     
  17. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Vows every ruling elder and deacon in the PCA takes relating to upholding the system of polity (governance of the church):

    (teaching elders take similar vows)


    System of governing the church is elders and deacons

    When it is impossible to secure deacons (BCO 9-2), then their duties fall to Session.



    The plurality of elders (session) is responsible for ordaining and installing deacons

    Even in the case of a board of trustees, the powers and duties of the elders and deacons are not infringed:

     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2009
  18. Hamalas

    Hamalas whippersnapper

    I'm curious, were there particular examples you had in mind? I can't think of any in the NT. :)
     
  19. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    Phoebe...but I am not sure she was really a Deaconess.
     
  20. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    Scott-

    What if this goes before the GA and the offending church pastor says he had 100 guys go for deacon training, and when they did an interview every single one was addicted to internet p0rn?

    Or he says he does not want to ordain anybody who watches Sunday football, etc.

    That may be far fetched ( well, in today's world maybe not) but the point is, don't we have to consider them innocent until proven guilty? I was just as quick as almost everybody else here to charge them as guilty so I don't mean to point fingers at anybody else. I didn't realize until this morning that this should wait for the church courts before we hold trial here. It looks like something is wrong, and David Minor is a wise older man, but is it OK to hold trial in the public realm here, or not? I can't say I know the answer for sure but I know I was guilty of going too far myself in my critical remarks.
     
  21. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    5-10. If deacons are elected, follow the procedures of (1) through (5)
    above. If deacons are not elected, the duties of the office shall devolve upon
    the ruling elders.

    The people who hear the case can't talk about it while it's pending. See BCO 32-17. There is also grounds for appeal in a case of prejudgment, but that only applies to those hearing the case.

    In this situation, everything's done out in the open, so it's open for public discussion by everyone who isn't hearing the case.
     
  22. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    lynnie
    Your concerns to protect "innocence" are valid. I have the same concerns. It bothers me to see some of the uncorroborated things and conclusions made about brothers in the Lord and generalizing them broadly, even if they are wrong about some things.

    I am thankful we in the PCA have as many procedural mechanisms in the PCA as we do to protect that.

    After studying this for quite some time, I've come to understand this somewhat differently. That is, what is really happening.

    We have a presbytery majority (actually 3) that has passed declarations that we can read right now. It says, in effect, they are not going to follow their church's constitution.

    The declaration acknowledges "certain tensions" with their BCO (constitution) and seems to ask that their constitution be retroactively changed to adjust to their disobedience.

    This is like on a highway with a 65mph speed limit, an automobile association passing a charter for its members acknowledging "certain tensions with the speed limit" and saying:

    1) some motorists will go 64mph
    2) some motorists will go 65mph
    3) some motorist will go 100mph
    (attaching as an exhibit references to past histories of compliance with the posted speed limited)

    The problem is, officers (elders and deacons) are under vows. They have made a profession, have received doctrine and polity and confess it publicly, and sealed by vows.

    The big issue here that jumps right out, if I'm understanding this correctly is a refusal to constitute Deacons as governance of the church. Denying men, called by God, equipped by God to serve as Deacons. Denying congregations of their right to receive them as such. This is no small thing. It goes to the heart of what our denomination confesses (our church polity).

    I don't think anyone is alleging a defense such as a church of 6,000 could never find one person called as per I Timothy 3 to be a deacon. I don't think that is even a defense offered. In fact, encouragingly, it seems some are already coming to terms with the fact that they have been wrong in not constituting their church with Deacons and will soon be doing that.

    There are so many fundamental doctrines tied up in this, it may not be immediately clear. The doctrine of "ordination" involves much, as does "installation" whereby the congregation receives its officers, and vows are mutually taken.

    This would not be apparent to many looking in on this, as it is within a denomination, but the BCO allows "references" to determine whether practices are constitutional. They could have sent a "reference" up to determine the constitutionality of this, but have never done so.

    The immediate concerns here are:

    1) vows
    2) confessional church
    3) "connectional" church
    4) devaluation of ordination
    5) devaluation of the office of Deacon

    Another thing I was not aware of until recently. Our General Assembly last year ruled on many of these points last year.

    My understanding is this is final, because the rulings require churches or presbyteries to bring practices in accordance with their constitution. They cannot be appealed.

    (Summary from the Aquila Report- Mr Aquila is recent past moderator of our General Assembly and runs a denominational news service):

    Even beyond these practices is what only recently came to light- a few churches have been refusing to ordain and install deacons (at all)! Some, in the process are making arguments like (I Timothy 3) Deacons are only "helpers" with no office, authority, oversight or reward so "it doesn't matter." Others are making arguments like "ordination" is only a ceremony, has no spiritual significance, therefore, "it doesn't matter," we'll just commission.

    These practices (refusing to ordain and install deacons, deacons are only helpers anyway, ordination is only a ceremony...) are very wrong biblically, confessionally, and in terms of vows taken.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2009
  23. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    Scott, that was really interesting and I thank you for taking the time to write it out. Even though the violation does seem obvious, I will personally try to stay out of it now and let the courts decide, but I can see where another's conscience might be different on talking about it.

    I don't understand something you wrote:

    Another thing I was not aware of until recently. Our General Assembly last year ruled on many of these points last year.

    My understanding is this is final, because the rulings require churches or presbyteries to bring practices in accordance with their constitution. They cannot be appealed.

    (Summary from the Aquila Report- Mr Aquila is recent past moderator of our General Assembly and runs a denominational news service):


    Quote:
    To summarize, the GA affirmed:
    1. Men only are to be elected by a congregation to the office of deacon.
    2. Women cannot be elected by a congregation to the office of deacon.
    3. Women cannot be commissioned or ordained as deacons.
    4. Women cannot serve on diaconates.


    If this is final and cannot be appealed, why do I know of churches in the PCA with commissioned deaconesses? Do they get left alone until somebody in their presbytery complains, and then they have to comply? I don't get it :confused:
     
  24. ColdSilverMoon

    ColdSilverMoon Puritan Board Senior

    It doesn't matter. The BCO says if it is impossible for "any reason," and such terminology was obviously vague for a reason.

    Part of the problem is also a semantics issue. Deacon can refer to generic servant or to ordained office in our current terminology. So a female can be unordained and be called a deacon as Phoebe was in Romans 16. Even Calvin advocated unordained women servants he called "deaconesses" in the Institutes.

    Again, it's a semantics issue, as I mentioned above. The Apostle Paul and Calvin refer to unordained women as deacons - I hardly see how this is a problem.

    Scott,

    Thank you for your very thoughtful comments. Just a few things:

    First of all, Redeemer's membership is only a little over 2,000, not 6,000.

    Second, it doesn't matter what reason Redeemer has for not having ordained deacons - it was clearly the intent by the BCO authors that none be given since they stipulate that it can be for "any reason."

    Lastly, no one is undervaluing the role of deacons. The diaconate performs crucial functions within the church. Those in the pro-deaconess camp believe that Scripture does not necessarily make it an office or position of authority within the church. As such women should not be somehow given a different role from men in terms of the practical work deacons are called to do. It's not an undervaluing of deacons - simply a different perspective on the nature of their role within the church.
     
  25. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    You're most welcome, Lynnie.

    I'm not entirely sure. Perhaps someone familiar with the Committee on the Review of Presbytery Records or the Standing Judicial Commission of our denomination can answer that for us.

    Remember recently that a presbytery was cited and admonished by General Assembly in connection with not protecting their people from harm from the "federal vision" error.

    Several things happened there procedurally and the presbytery eventually repented, the vows were protected. Praise God for that!
     
  26. ColdSilverMoon

    ColdSilverMoon Puritan Board Senior



    Lynnie, it's a semantics issue. Women are commissioned as short term missionaries, to Vacation Bible School, and to women's ministries. Are they not servants in these ministries? If deacon is a synonym for servant, why can't they be called deacons?

    The GA report is attempting to prevent the practice of commissioning female deacons as a way of effectively ordaining them. Commissioning them to works of mercy and service is not the same as ordaining them to an office or position of authority - at least not at Redeemer.
     
  27. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Mason, in the PCA do Deacons have to be ordained?
     
  28. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    The GA report is attempting to prevent the practice of commissioning female deacons as a way of effectively ordaining them. Commissioning them to works of mercy and service is not the same as ordaining them to an office or position of authority - at least not at Redeemer.

    Interesting.

    Do you think though, when it comes to not making weaker brethren and new Christians stumble, there might be a lack of wisdom in the use of words? I mean, might it not be interpreted as support for egalitarianism?

    Thanks.
     
  29. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    But not in the BCO. Deacon is an office, Diaconate is a plurality of Deacons in the BCO. They are qualified by I Timothy 3 and elected, ordained, installed in the BCO. There is no ambiguity about Deacon in the BCO.

    BCO 9-2 says only if it is impossible to secure Deacons. The BCO establishes them as a basic part of the governance of PCA churches BCO 1-4, 4-2 (cf post# 80 above). Deacons are not optional.

    Yes, Deacons are very important. They oversee property stewardship, mercy ministry, and developing a spirit of liberality in the congregation in a leadership capacity.

    The unordained men and women who assist them are also important. Much mercy ministry (and other tasks) would not get done without them.

    But the office (qualified by I Timothy 3, ordained, installed, received by vows of Deacon and by the congregation) is recognized in our BCO (and I believe in Scripture) as having real governing authority. It’s not something that is interchanged with un-ordained men and women in service.:)
     
  30. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    Scott- I have two deaconess friends in two PCA churches. I don't believe in it, but at least we all agreed elders rule and deacons(nesses) serve.

    So I am not disgreeing with this comment below but do you have an exact quote for me, for my personal satisfaction, that the BCO does say they have real governing authority. I mean, the way I've heard it thrown around they (deacon men) have no governing authority. Only elders. Thanks.

    But the office (qualified by I Timothy 3, ordained, installed, received by vows of Deacon and by the congregation) is recognized in our BCO (and I believe in Scripture) as having real governing authority. It’s not something that is interchanged with un-ordained men and women in service.
     
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