Friday, November 18, 2016

BREAKING: Orthodox Patriarchate moves to restore female deacons


NOVEMBER 17, 2016
As I noted earlier, yesterday I took part in with America Media on the subject of deacons in general and women deacons in particular. This morning, one of the panelists, George Demacopoulos, theologian and founding co-director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University, passed along a timely item from the Orthodox (which has been translated by Google from the original Greek).
The big news, from George: “News broke this morning that the Patriarchate of Alexandria (which is the autocephalous head of Orthodox, Chalcedonian Christians in Africa) officially voted to restore the female diaconate.”
The story: 
On November 16  the Synod of aboriginal Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa continued its work under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, Theodore Vstin Patriarchal Seat.
Speakers at today’s meeting were Ven. Nigeria Metropolitan k.Alexandros who developed the theme of fasting within the African reality and Ven. Cameroon Metropolitan. Gregory who omilise on the institution of Deaconesses the missionary field. Both rapporteurs presented with theological arguments the positions and proposals, was done no extensive discussion thereon.
On the subject of fasting decisions of the meeting will be announced shortly to the clergy and people of the spiritual jurisdiction of the Patriarchate by the Patriarchate Circulars.
On the issue of the institution of Deaconesses, it was decided to revive it and ordained bishops on tripartite committee for detailed consideration. (Emphasis added.)
There’s an interesting overview of the history of women deacons in the Orthodox church here.  An opposing (and highly critical) view can be read here.  
It remains unclear right now what, exactly, female deacons (or deaconesses?) would do in the Orthodox church, and how widespread this revival might actually be. It’s also not certain that this would be a ministry involving ordination.
So…There are a lot of unanswered questions. At the very least, this seems to me to be a significant first step, but much more discussion (or “consideration”) lies ahead.
We’ll see. Stay tuned.

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