On Sunday we will ordain nine women to the ministry of deacon. Each one has been serving faithfully in that capacity as the wife of a deacon and has earned the honor of having the title for themselves.
The word that is translated “deacon” in the Bible is the Greek word diakonos and is better translated servant. In Acts 6, where the deacon ministry is introduced to the church, variations of diakinos are translated “food distribution,” “waiter,” and “ministry.” The role of the deacon is clearly one of service; in keeping with the example of our Lord who “came not to be served (diakoneo) but to serve (diakoneo).” (Mark 10:45)
Women have served as deacons since the start of the of the church. In Romans 6:1, Paul commends sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchrea. The Roman governor, Pliny, sent a letter to the Emperor Trajan in the First Century about the arrest and torture of two maidens who were deacons in order to gain information about the church. Early church document outlined the role of women deacons in the baptism and discipleship of female converts. One of the founders of the Baptist movement, John Smyth, wrote about the authority of the local church to ordain female deacons.
Women deacons are usually found in churches where the role of deacon is that of service and support rather than acting as church management. In our male dominated society it is difficult to see a woman as capable of leadership. It was less than 100 years ago that women in the US were first allowed to vote in national elections.
The society Jesus was born into was even more patriarchal than ours. Therefore, it's important to note that he first revealed himself as Messiah to a Samaritan woman and that women were the first to see his resurrected body. From the widow's offering to the jar of expensive perfume, women were frequently the heroes in Jesus' stories.
We are blessed with a significant number of men and women who have tender hearts and a love for Jesus and his church. The people of Baptist Temple are well served by our deacons.