Elder to Deacon

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Puritan Board Freshman
I know that the offices of Deacon and Elder are different only in their giftedness and calling. The spiritual requirements are the same for the two offices. I know that certain gifts and callings may manifest themselves differently over the course of a believer's life, and a man who is called to office early in his life may feel a calling, and his gifts may change such that he is properly elected an ordained to the other office. I've seen, on multiple occasions, deacons who later became ruling elders, but I've never heard of it going the other way. Anybody ever heard of this happening?


Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Yes. I have a friend who is now a deacon, and served with me as an RE a decade or so ago.


Puritan Board Doctor
Yes. When I was first a deacon, we had on our board a man that had served as an RE in the BP then in the RPC-ES. He was at that time a deacon in the PCA. He was a great help to us & his experience was invaluable. (Not to mention we loved his stories about Francis Schaeffer.)


Puritanboard Commissioner
Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)
Book of Church Order

7-2. The ordinary and perpetual classes of office in the Church are elders
and deacons.

9-1. The office of deacon is set forth in the Scriptures as ordinary and
perpetual in the Church.

24-7. Ordination to the offices of ruling elder or deacon is perpetual; nor
can such offices be laid aside at pleasure;

The doctrine reflected in the Book of Church Order is that the office itself and the ordination is perpetual.

It shows how carefully one ought consider his call for office.

It also shows how absurd is the contorted argumentation of a very few churches in the denomination who are violating their constitution, oath and confessed doctrine by having women substitute for the office. The rationale being that a woman who goes to another church that does not have 'deaconess' sets it aside when they leave that church, or that presbytery.

Part of that whole discussion betrays a lack of understanding of office, the doctrine behind it and the vow.

My understanding, and I see that modeled is that while the call is perpetual (not "try it" for one term, then quit forever unless some physical limitation hinders) is that ordination applies in the same sense to one whose call changes from deacon to elder or deacon to elder.

It is quite possible to think of someone gifted and called to both offices, as we have them defined in the PCA. Biblically, I think of Stephen, the first deacon who also had a strong teaching gift.

This kind of commonality of office also shows why we must not allow violation of our confessed unity, doctrine with women deacons. It undermines all this, whether people arguing that way realize it or not.:)

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
I've seen it happen once. I'd agree it's much less frequent than deacon-to-elder, but not unheard of.


Puritan Board Freshman
Several folks have posted that they've seen an RE in one church or denomination become a deacon after moving to another church or denomination. Does anyone have any experience with someone going from RE to deacon in the same church?


Puritan Board Professor
I know a man who in the same church went from RE to deacon then back to RE. He is an older man. He became a RE of which he then became convinced that God was calling Him to serve as a deacon and not a RE. After man years of being a deacon, someone nominated him to serve as RE. He examined himself, asked the elders of his church their thoughts, and became convinced he was called to be a RE.
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