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Author Topic: Deaconesses  (Read 2280 times) Average Rating: 0
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Father Peter
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« on: December 16, 2003, 10:55:23 AM »

Hiya

I know that the Coptic Orthodox Church has a successful ministry of deaconesses, and I have visited some of the places where they are active in Egypt, running hostels for young girls and children in the city, running care homes for elderly and mentally disabled, and of course involved in Sunday Schools.

Which of the other Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches have the ministry of deaconess?

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« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2003, 11:42:20 AM »

There is a argument in the West that because there were deaconesses in the early Church, then surely women have a right to receive holy orders. I think this would not be the understanding of the Coptic Church, verdad? Interesting that the Coptic Church still has that tradition!
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« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2003, 01:07:10 PM »

Guys, I think there's another thread - with the same title as well somewhere around here.  It was discussed several months ago.

I think some of the thoughts were that:
1)  It might be nice to revive the order, but let's not get too hasty.
2)  It's just not necessary anymore.

I'm sure there are other thoughts as well.
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« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2003, 03:03:32 PM »

Hiya

I tried to be specific and raise non-liturgical deaconesses, I just wondered which other churches had restored the ministry, I'm sure that I have read of others.

I'd have thought that in the missionary context many of us find ourselves in with adult converts it was as necessary as it was in the original context.

But I'll go find the other thread.

PT
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« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2003, 03:20:13 PM »

Are these OO deaconesses ordained, or sort of a lay-ministry?  Very interested ...
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« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2003, 03:23:15 PM »

They are not ordained. Prayed for certainly but they are not clergy. Much more like Western nuns serving in the community.

Here's a very good article with some photos

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2000/479/spec1.htm
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« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2003, 03:38:11 PM »

Thank you kindly, Deacon Peter.
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« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2003, 09:34:15 PM »

Absolutely no one has a "right" to the clergy - whether man or woman, whether to become a deacon, priest, or a bishop.  This is where we differ from Western Christians, who regularly claim "rights" to the clergy.  

Yes, the Byzantine Church did have women deacons it seems -- I don't know if they were ordained or not -- I'm assuming so??

I have no idea why the Church dropped it over the years.  It will be interesting to see if the Church re-instates the female diaconate at some point in the future.  

But no woman (and likewise no man) has a "right" to be a deacon or priest.   Ordination is an act of the Holy Spirit.
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« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2003, 11:18:07 PM »

But no woman (and likewise no man) has a "right" to be a deacon or priest.   Ordination is an act of the Holy Spirit.

AMEN AND AMEN!

Q: does completion of Seminary = ordination in the OC?

MEANING - if you complete seminary and apply for ordination, are there any other criteria (and if so what are they) for ordination?
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« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2003, 11:30:36 PM »

vicki: oh?  splain pleez
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« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2003, 12:28:22 PM »

Western Christians "regularly" claim it is their right to receive Holy Orders? Please extrapolate on this. Among Catholics, I've only heard it from the likes of FutureChurch and other questionable organizations.
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« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2003, 02:43:56 PM »


Q: does completion of Seminary = ordination in the OC?

MEANING - if you complete seminary and apply for ordination, are there any other criteria (and if so what are they) for ordination?

In the Coptic Church we have a few semenaries, in fact we were the first Church ever to have a semenary.  But they have nothing to do with the formation of priests.  When a congregation needs a new priest, a man is selected from the congregation who is already worthy, who has learned what they need to know about the faith & rites not for the sake of becoming a priest, but for the sake of knowing, who is holy, fits with the congregation, is ready, in short who is selected by God.  If that person is acceptable to the congregation, any existing priests, and the bishop, they are ordained.  They then spend 40 days in the monastary learning to pray the Liturgy, and then they return and serve as a priest.  The semenaries are there to provide education to anyone who needs or desires it, be they laity, including sunday school teachers, monks, or priests.  I get the impression that some of the other Orhtodox Churches have moved a little away from this more towards the modern idea of semenary, which has it's advantages and disadvantages, but the candidites still have to be approved by the bishop, and a bishop can still ordain a man who has not been through all of the formal semenary training.
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« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2003, 02:47:42 PM »

Western Christians "regularly" claim it is their right to receive Holy Orders? Please extrapolate on this. Among Catholics, I've only heard it from the likes of FutureChurch and other questionable organizations.


I think that what they mean is in the west generally if one wants to become a priest they chose to go to semenary and if they make it through and are found worthy they are ordained.  Of course it's ultimately up to the bishop, but mostly it is the individual that is responsible for discerning thier calling.  In the east generally a man does not express desire to become a priest, and anyone who does is considered unworthy of the preisthood.  When there is need a worthy man is selected and ordained, usually against their sincere protests of unworthiness.  The person does not chose to persue the preisthood, God selects them through the congregation and clergy to serve.

Calling it claiming a right is probably a little harsh, but the difference is in one case the person desired it and persues it, and in the other they are selected rather than chosing for themselves.
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« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2003, 04:55:53 PM »

Father Alexander Schmemann wrote about this -- how the 3 year seminary as a "graduate school" is a very western concept that the Orthodox Church in the west has adopted..... historically, a boy growing up in an Orthodox town would be seen for 10 or 20 years, and in essence God would choose him to become the priest (the leader of the local Christian community).  

It's not this simple anymore, since there are hardly any "Orthodox towns" in the West.

A seminary degree does not equal ordination, and NOT having a seminary degree does not preclude one from being ordained, either.  In my parish, we just had a deacon ordained who completed the OCA's "late vocations program" -- geared toward Orthodox men older in life with families and prior careers who want to serve their church.  As I understand it, it's more or less independent study.  From what my priest was saying, there are still grueling exams.

Plus, the idea that you can learn in 3 years in grad school everything you need to know to be a priest is insane (similar to how inadequate I felt after 4 years of medical school -- I still felt like I knew nothing!  Practical experience is crucial!).  It's a westernized concept that we Orthodox in the west have adopted.

On another topic -- the "right" to become a priest.... when I commented above that some Western Christians regularly claim "rights" to be priests, I had in mind the militants (mostly "disadvantaged minorities," women, gays, etc.) who clamor about this, and who many churches (Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, etc.) have given in to.  Those people became ministers and priests because of their complaining that they had a "right" to do so.  You even see this in Roman Catholicism as well -- women claiming a "right" to be parish priests.  As I stated above, there is no such "right" out there -- God chooses who He wants to be priests.
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« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2003, 05:38:03 PM »

Understood, but "Western Christians" is a generalization that I don't think fits. I'm sure there are dissidents among "Eastern Christians," but I don't claim that Eastern Christians regularly claim strict exclusivity for their own sect, a la ROAC. !
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« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2003, 05:54:17 PM »

Quote
God chooses who He wants to be priests.


Only too true.  No one has the RIGHT to be a priest - no one is WORTHY of being a priests.  Those who claim to be worthy are farthest from it - and those who claim the right are the last people who should be ordained.  

Above and beyond the training criteria we ask of those who seek the priesthood, they must demonstrate a calling from God through signs and wonders.  If God is calling you, he will confirm your calling Smiley
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