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Orthodox Liturgists Issue a Statement of Support for the Revival of Deaconess

thenerdpaul

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It has come to our attention that the venerable Patriarchate of Alexandria, after due consideration, has decided to reinstate the ancient order of deaconess in order better to serve the pastoral needs of the ever-increasing number of missionary parishes within the Patriarchate serving the whole continent of Africa. The validity of this decision, however, has been questioned by some.

We, the undersigned, active and emeriti professors of liturgics and liturgical theology at various theological schools and seminaries in Greece and the United States of America, wish to express respectfully our support of His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros and Holy Synod of Alexandria Patriarchate in their the effort to restore in a timely manner the order of deaconess within the borders of the Patriarchate.

The historical, theological, canonical, and liturgical validity of the order of deaconess has been repeatedly and repeatedly asserted in recent years by Orthodox scholars and theologians. Although the order of deaconess gradually fell into decline by the end of the fifteenth century, it survived among the Oriental Orthodox Churches and in some monastic communities. The Russian Orthodox Church before the 1917 Revolution and again in more recent times has considered restoring it. Likewise St. Nectarios and other contemporary Greek bishops have ordained deaconesses. In fact, the Church of Greece established a School of Deaconesses, which in the end developed into a school for social workers.

The reinstitution of the female diaconate does not constitute an innovation, as some would have us believe, but revitalization of a once functional, vibrant, and effective ministry in order to provide the opportunity for qualified women to offer in our era their unique and specific gifts in the service of God's people as publicly commissioned and authorized educators, evangelists, preachers, counselors, social workers, et.al.

Initially, the liturgical role of the female diaconate appears to have been limited, according to sources. These same sources provide us with the ritual of ordination of a female diacon, which is strikingly similar to that of the male diacon. Significantly, the liturgical vestments are the same as those of the male deacon's. The decision as to whether or not women deacons will perform added liturgical functions in our time, as one theologian puts it, "remains exclusively the prerogative of bishops in the synod."

Indeed, the very process of restoring the female diaconate requires careful consideration of several other factors as well, including the proper preparation and education of the people who will be called upon to receive, honor and respect the deaconesses assigned to their parishes. Also crucial for the process of restoration is to carefully articulate the qualities and qualifications of the candidates for the office. St. Paul in his Pastoral Epistles provides guidance as to the qualities required of the candidate. The canons tell us of some qualifications, such as the minimum age of the candidate. However, nothing is said of other qualifications such as the education and marital status of the candidate. These and other matters, including the public attire, the remuneration and the method of assignment and removal of the deaconess, must also be addressed. Above all, the process requires that the role and functions of the deaconess be identified, properly defined, and clearly stated.

Talk of the restoration of the order of female deacons has been with us for several decades. In fact, one of the conclusions (VIII) of the Inter-Orthodox Symposium, "The Place of the Woman in the Orthodox Church" which was held on the island of Rhodes in 1988, addressed this very issue. It bears repeating parts of the conclusion:

Generally speaking, it is safe to say that only doctrinal impediments and commonly accepted authoritative precedents would prevent an autocephalous Church from enacting liturgical reforms within its borders. Liturgical and canonical issues that have implications beyond the local church are generally resolved through a consensus of the autocephalous churches. The restoration of the female diaconate is such that neither doctrinal issues nor authoritative precedents are at stake. It is refreshing to know that a local Church has taken up the challenge, has studied the matter carefully, and is proposing measures for the implementation of a significant reform, the restoration of the order of deaconess, through a prudently conceived program.   

In light of this, we respectfully support the decision of the Patriarchate of Alexandria to restore the female diaconate, thus giving a flesh to an idea that has been discussed and studied by pastors and theologians for decades.

With deep respect and respect

Evangelos Theodorou, Theological School of the University of Athens

Alkiviadis Calivas, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology

Paul Meyendorff, St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary

George Filias, Theological School of the University of Athens

Panagiotis Skaltsis, Theological School of the University of Thessaloniki

Stelyios S. Muksuris, Byzantine Catholic Seminary

Nicholas Denysenko, Valparaiso University

Phillip Zymaris, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology

John Klentos, Graduate Theological Union
Source: https://panorthodoxcemes.blogspot.ca/2017/10/orthodox-liturgists-issued-statement-of.html
 

scamandrius

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The question this statement wants to avoid is "Why?"  Why is this necessary, now of all times?  Why?  But they won't or can't answer it.

As for the ordination rites (it should be mentioned in the plural, not the singular since even the prayers differed), as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.  Both would be dressed in the orar but that does not represent sacramental parity.  Also, the rules governing who could be ordained were radically different; a man could be married and ordained at the minimal age of 24 while a deaconess had to be 40 and celibate.  The deacon was ordained while he was kneeling with his head touching the altar; the deaconess stands and inclines her head.  Both are given the chalice, but the deaconess returns it immediately indicating her exclusion from administering the Eucharist.  Also, the office of deaconess was used in a time for when baptisms were common among adults (not so much today, but as many of us have seen adult conversions, perhaps this should be weighed in, but not considerably) and adult men and women were baptized separately (men were baptized naked).  Since that is no longer the case, why is the deaconess needed? 

To me, all this talk about ordination of deaconesses especially as Rome seems to be getting ready to do the very same thing is but yet another way to sneak women's ordination to the priesthood through the back door.  I have many theological disagreements on a wide variety of subjects with several of the signers of this document so I take their opinions cum grano salis.
 

Iconodule

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scamandrius said:
The question this statement wants to avoid is "Why?"  Why is this necessary, now of all times?  Why?  But they won't or can't answer it.
... in order to provide the opportunity for qualified women to offer in our era their unique and specific gifts in the service of God's people as publicly commissioned and authorized educators, evangelists, preachers, counselors, social workers, et.al.
Meanwhile we await any compelling, coherent answer to the question "Why not?"
 

IreneOlinyk

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scamandrius said:
The question this statement wants to avoid is "Why?"  Why is this necessary, now of all times?  Why?  But they won't or can't answer it.

As for the ordination rites (it should be mentioned in the plural, not the singular since even the prayers differed), as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.  Both would be dressed in the orar but that does not represent sacramental parity.  Also, the rules governing who could be ordained were radically different; a man could be married and ordained at the minimal age of 24 while a deaconess had to be 40 and celibate.  The deacon was ordained while he was kneeling with his head touching the altar; the deaconess stands and inclines her head.  Both are given the chalice, but the deaconess returns it immediately indicating her exclusion from administering the Eucharist.  Also, the office of deaconess was used in a time for when baptisms were common among adults (not so much today, but as many of us have seen adult conversions, perhaps this should be weighed in, but not considerably) and adult men and women were baptized separately (men were baptized naked).  Since that is no longer the case, why is the deaconess needed? 

To me, all this talk about ordination of deaconesses especially as Rome seems to be getting ready to do the very same thing is but yet another way to sneak women's ordination to the priesthood through the back door.  I have many theological disagreements on a wide variety of subjects with several of the signers of this document so I take their opinions cum grano salis.
Here is the ordination service for deaconesses:  https://web.archive.org/web/20160311134142/http://www.anastasis.org.uk/woman_deacon.htm

What is that you are so afraid of?  Deaconesses celebrated in the Orthodox Church until the 12th century.  With all the problems in Byzantium with attacks and the dissolution of the Empire the standards of education dropped.  It would have been hard to find women who were literate for example.  Deaconesses have already been ordained in the Orthodox Church of Greece and in the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
 

scamandrius

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IreneOlinyk said:
scamandrius said:
The question this statement wants to avoid is "Why?"  Why is this necessary, now of all times?  Why?  But they won't or can't answer it.

As for the ordination rites (it should be mentioned in the plural, not the singular since even the prayers differed), as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.  Both would be dressed in the orar but that does not represent sacramental parity.  Also, the rules governing who could be ordained were radically different; a man could be married and ordained at the minimal age of 24 while a deaconess had to be 40 and celibate.  The deacon was ordained while he was kneeling with his head touching the altar; the deaconess stands and inclines her head.  Both are given the chalice, but the deaconess returns it immediately indicating her exclusion from administering the Eucharist.  Also, the office of deaconess was used in a time for when baptisms were common among adults (not so much today, but as many of us have seen adult conversions, perhaps this should be weighed in, but not considerably) and adult men and women were baptized separately (men were baptized naked).  Since that is no longer the case, why is the deaconess needed? 

To me, all this talk about ordination of deaconesses especially as Rome seems to be getting ready to do the very same thing is but yet another way to sneak women's ordination to the priesthood through the back door.  I have many theological disagreements on a wide variety of subjects with several of the signers of this document so I take their opinions cum grano salis.
Here is the ordination service for deaconesses:  https://web.archive.org/web/20160311134142/http://www.anastasis.org.uk/woman_deacon.htm

What is that you are so afraid of?  Deaconesses celebrated in the Orthodox Church until the 12th century.  With all the problems in Byzantium with attacks and the dissolution of the Empire the standards of education dropped.  It would have been hard to find women who were literate for example.  Deaconesses have already been ordained in the Orthodox Church of Greece and in the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
Why do you assume I'm afraid?  Objections are not always rooted in fear.  What is the need for ordination of deaconesses now?  Why?  The "liturgists" who signed this document fail to answer that question and as I said, I do have some issues with these gentlemen on other theological issues so I'm not willing to buy into their reasoning just because they are famous and ipsi dixerunt.  JUst because it's ancient, why does that mean it should be revived? 
 

primuspilus

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Ive never seen any good reason as to why it should not be brought back. I hate the argument, "because we dont use it anymore". I find that to be an argument based out of someone not actually having an argument.

but yet another way to sneak women's ordination to the priesthood through the back door
scamandrius said:
yet another way to sneak women's ordination to the priesthood through the back door. 
Hows that? Its an established, historical part of the Church. I think its a FAR stretch to say that this is going to lead to female priests.

PP
 

xOrthodox4Christx

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primuspilus said:
Ive never seen any good reason as to why it should not be brought back. I hate the argument, "because we dont use it anymore". I find that to be an argument based out of someone not actually having an argument.

but yet another way to sneak women's ordination to the priesthood through the back door
scamandrius said:
yet another way to sneak women's ordination to the priesthood through the back door. 
Hows that? Its an established, historical part of the Church. I think its a FAR stretch to say that this is going to lead to female priests.

PP
Um, I'm open to both possibilities. I think there are some who are sincere, but there could be those who use this to infiltrate the Church. That's how any policy in the real world tends to work. There are opportunists and sincere people on both sides of any policy.
 

AntoniousNikolas

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scamandrius said:
What is the need for ordination of deaconesses now?  Why?...JUst because it's ancient, why does that mean it should be revived?
In addition to what Iconodule has already posted - about their being a value in an ordained ministry for women to utilize their gifts for the service of God's people under the supervision of and accountable to their bishop - the Alexandrian Church has determined that there is a particular pastoral need for the ministry in particular parts of their Sub-Saharan African territory.  Who are you to say otherwise or question their judgment?

scamandrius said:
Why do you assume I'm afraid?
This seems to be an argument made from a position of fear:

scamandrius said:
To me, all this talk about ordination of deaconesses especially as Rome seems to be getting ready to do the very same thing is but yet another way to sneak women's ordination to the priesthood through the back door.
And it is answered here:

Q.Does the St. Phoebe Center promote the ordination of women to the priesthood (i.e. the episcopos or presbytery)?

A. No, ordination of women to those offices is not part of the Orthodox Christian Tradition and the St. Phoebe Center does not promote this.

Q. If women are ordained to the diaconate, won’t the next step be to ordain them to the priesthood/presbytery?

A. Ordination to the diaconate is not just a “stepping stone” to the priesthood/presbytery.  The order has its own charism and ministry.  Furthermore, for over a thousand years the Church ordained women to the diaconate and it did not lead to the ordination to the presbytery; therefore within the framework of the Orthodox Church, we should not think that would be the case today.
https://orthodoxdeaconess.org/faqs/
 

scamandrius

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Antonious Nikolas said:
scamandrius said:
What is the need for ordination of deaconesses now?  Why?...JUst because it's ancient, why does that mean it should be revived?
In addition to what Iconodule has already posted - about their being a value in an ordained ministry for women to utilize their gifts for the service of God's people under the supervision of and accountable to their bishop - the Alexandrian Church has determined that there is a particular pastoral need for the ministry in particular parts of their Sub-Saharan African territory.  Who are you to say otherwise or question their judgment?

scamandrius said:
Why do you assume I'm afraid?
This seems to be an argument made from a position of fear:

scamandrius said:
To me, all this talk about ordination of deaconesses especially as Rome seems to be getting ready to do the very same thing is but yet another way to sneak women's ordination to the priesthood through the back door.
No, it is not based on fear, but based on reality.  People who generally advocate for upending traditional practice or teaching on anything are fine with piecemeal graduated approaches over time rather than a full frontal direct assault where they would be immediately rebuffed by the vast majority of hierarchy, clergy and laity to the point that it would take years upon years to bring it up again.  Even Ms. Elizabeth Behr-Spiegel who DOES argue for women's ordination continually tries to disguise her views by saying asking that they are open to the Spirit guiding them as if this were some sort of open question subject to debate.  What is being suggested now bears little resemblance to the ancient order.
 

scamandrius

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Antonious Nikolas said:
scamandrius said:
What is the need for ordination of deaconesses now?  Why?...JUst because it's ancient, why does that mean it should be revived?
In addition to what Iconodule has already posted - about their being a value in an ordained ministry for women to utilize their gifts for the service of God's people under the supervision of and accountable to their bishop - the Alexandrian Church has determined that there is a particular pastoral need for the ministry in particular parts of their Sub-Saharan African territory.  Who are you to say otherwise or question their judgment?
As a rule, I don't read much of what Iconodule has to say.

Secondly, who am I to say? I'm a baptized Orthodox Christian, a minor cleric tonsured by a bishop in apostolic succession.  Laity are not forbidden from defending the faith from within and without.  Plus, the people who wrote that statement are not infallible; they're not RC popes. 
 

AntoniousNikolas

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scamandrius said:
No, it is not based on fear, but based on reality.  People who generally advocate for upending traditional practice or teaching on anything are fine with piecemeal graduated approaches over time rather than a full frontal direct assault where they would be immediately rebuffed by the vast majority of hierarchy, clergy and laity to the point that it would take years upon years to bring it up again.
Sounds like paranoia to me.  I'm for a restoration of the order of the deaconess, and I'd never advocate for a female priesthood.  The same is true with the St. Phoebe the Deaconess Center folks I've met and corresponded with.  They don't seem like subversive liars trying to destroy Orthodoxy piecemeal to me.  What are you basing that on?  Are you saying that the Patriarchate of Alexandria is bent on the same strategy?  Do you believe that anyone can advocate for the restoration of the order of the deaconess and be honest about it?  Or is everyone pushing for it some sort of crypto-feminist?

scamandrius said:
Even Ms. Elizabeth Behr-Spiegel who DOES argue for women's ordination continually tries to disguise her views by saying asking that they are open to the Spirit guiding them as if this were some sort of open question subject to debate. 
What does this have to do with what we're discussing here?  Are you assigning her motives to everyone else who argues for the restoration of the order of the deaconess?

scamandrius said:
What is being suggested now bears little resemblance to the ancient order.
Others more qualified to render judgment than yourself seem to disagree.

scamandrius said:
As a rule, I don't read much of what Iconodule has to say.
So you're dismissing a valid argument out of hand based on who first posited it in this particular discussion?  You realize that the argument does not originate with Iconodule, right?  You'll eventually have to address it on its own merits if you're going to effectively counter it.

scamandrius said:
Secondly, who am I to say? I'm a baptized Orthodox Christian, a minor cleric tonsured by a bishop in apostolic succession.  Laity are not forbidden from defending the faith from within and without.  Plus, the people who wrote that statement are not infallible; they're not RC popes.
LOL @ the idea of YOU defending the faith against the Patriarchate of Alexandria.  But anyway, strawmen aside, I wasn't speaking to the idea of you having a right to open your mouth on the subject.  I was asking what your qualifications to make a determination on whether or not the pastoral need identified for the revival of the ministry by the Patriarchate of Alexandria within its canonical territory existed or not.  When was the last time you visited Burundi and Rwanda, for which H.B. Patriarch Theodoros II and Their Eminences Metropolitan Nicephorus and Metropolitan Meletios consecrated these women? 



http://basilica.ro/en/patriarch-theodoros-of-alexandria-performs-first-consecration-of-deaconesses/

I guess I could also ask about your qualifications to actually argue about the history of the order with some of the folks on the advisory board of the St. Phoebe Center, like Dr. Valarie Karras or Fr. John McGuckin.  Based on your posting here, my impression right now is that they'd expose the gaps in your knowledge you attempt to mask with the sort of ranting you've treated us to above in short order.
 

Dominika

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There are some deaconesses in the Antiochian Church in Lebanon: an article in Arabic about it.

I've heard they're in some Greek monasteries.

I would say that deaconess are needed primarily at monasteries and in mission areas. They mabye also needed at some large parish, or, contrary: small but active ones. To help liturgically (chanters, psalmists, readers, bring/take something, church decoration, cleaning), socially, medically, catechetically.
Yeah, most of this stuff, maybe even all these things, may be done without being a deaconess. However, being a decaness firstly, sanction all these things and secondly, it obliges certain women to do certain things.

Frankly speaking, sometimes I'm wondering if it's possible for woman to be a tonsured (I mean, have a chirotesy) reader/psalmist. As from time to time I do this at my parish. And espeically at some rural parishes such women readers or decaoness woudl be better than most of men, who read very hardly, but theyr'e asked to do it jsut becfause of their sex, despite that there are some knowlegable women that know Church Slavonic, melodies for certain types of readings etc. (I'm speaking there about Polish circumstances).
 

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in an open culture such as America...with its distinct lack of separation of the sexes....this seems like a 'frivolous grasping for the priesthood' sort of move.

But in -much- of the world...the ancient world...you know...the world where our traditions started and came from...the need is much clearer. 

And to be honest, even here in America...there are plenty of husbands who would be much more comfortable with their wife who is inquiring into Orthodoxy, mainly dealing with a female catechisist  than a male Priest or layperson who often ends up meeting with them alone.

So rather than just thinking about this in a 'western world' perspective...maybe we should look at it as 'What Orthodoxy used to do....might be worth reviving in the sake of being more traditional...and keeping ourselves 'not of this western world'
 

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Antonious Nikolas said:
[

What does this have to do with what we're discussing here?  Are you assigning her motives to everyone else who argues for the restoration of the order of the deaconess?
Since we're dealing with the topic of women's ordination , either to the diaconate or the priesthood, I assumed that Ms. Behr-Spiegel's work and activism was well known.  Apparently not.  APologies for the assumption.
 

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Antonious Nikolas said:
LOL @ the idea of YOU defending the faith against the Patriarchate of Alexandria.  But anyway, strawmen aside, I wasn't speaking to the idea of you having a right to open your mouth on the subject.  I was asking what your qualifications to make a determination on whether or not the pastoral need identified for the revival of the ministry by the Patriarchate of Alexandria within its canonical territory existed or not.  When was the last time you visited Burundi and Rwanda, for which H.B. Patriarch Theodoros II and Their Eminences Metropolitan Nicephorus and Metropolitan Meletios consecrated these women? 
As I wrote earlier, the deaconess position was for specific ministries, the vast majority of which are not needed now (e.g. the baptism of naked adults which is not done anymore).  YOu cannot recreate a historic office for a novel purpose.  I also suggest that these ministries do NOT require an ordination.
 

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Incidentally I got Behr-Sigel's book of essays on women's ministry in the mail a few days ago. Maybe I'll share my thoughts when I find time to read it.
 

Iconodule

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scamandrius said:
I also suggest that these ministries do NOT require an ordination.
By that logic, let's abolish the officer of reader. And let's face it, most subdeacons are basically glorified altar boys, so get rid of the subdiaconate.
 

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scamandrius said:
Antonious Nikolas said:
[

What does this have to do with what we're discussing here?  Are you assigning her motives to everyone else who argues for the restoration of the order of the deaconess?
Since we're dealing with the topic of women's ordination , either to the diaconate or the priesthood, I assumed that Ms. Behr-Spiegel's work and activism was well known.  Apparently not.  APologies for the assumption.
It's not so much the assumption that we're all familiar with her work that is problematic as it is that anyone who advocates for the restoration of the order of the deaconess - an undeniable part of our Tradition and heritage - is also gunning for a heterodox innovation like a female priesthood.

scamandrius said:
Antonious Nikolas said:
LOL @ the idea of YOU defending the faith against the Patriarchate of Alexandria.  But anyway, strawmen aside, I wasn't speaking to the idea of you having a right to open your mouth on the subject.  I was asking what your qualifications to make a determination on whether or not the pastoral need identified for the revival of the ministry by the Patriarchate of Alexandria within its canonical territory existed or not.  When was the last time you visited Burundi and Rwanda, for which H.B. Patriarch Theodoros II and Their Eminences Metropolitan Nicephorus and Metropolitan Meletios consecrated these women? 
As I wrote earlier, the deaconess position was for specific ministries, the vast majority of which are not needed now (e.g. the baptism of naked adults which is not done anymore).  YOu cannot recreate a historic office for a novel purpose.  I also suggest that these ministries do NOT require an ordination.
What are you basing your assumptions on here?  How do you know the pastoral needs of the Patriarch of Alexandria's flock in Sub-Saharan Africa?  How do you know how they made the determination that an ordained ministry was necessary and worth implementing in this specific circumstance, and what flaws do you see in their logic?  Have you evaluated the situation on the ground there before making your determination?

As to "recreating a historic office for a novel purpose" and female deacons existing to help primarily with "naked baptisms":

Female deacons did more than help with female baptisms. Thirteen different duties of the deaconess are listed in The Study of Liturgy, Oxford, 1978 and Ordination Rites of the Ancient Churches of East and West, 1990. Her duties included: administration, supervision at Liturgy, taking charge of properties, reporting to the Bishop, providing pastoral care to women, sheltering guests, and more.  Most of those needs still exist today.

In a presentation made by Valerie Karras, Th.D., Ph.D., at the “Deaconesses, Ordination of Women and Orthodox Theology International Theological Conference” in Thessaloniki, Greece, Dr. Karras states, “The Church’s historical division according to sex of public and private diaconal ministries paralleled the gendered division of functions in almost all aspect of life in the late antique and Byzantine societies in which Orthodox Christianity developed.” Dr. Karras also states, “If we examine the cultural context of the historical female diaconate, we cannot fail but be astonished that, in a society where women served almost no public roles and held no public offices, the Church nevertheless not only employed women to serve the pastoral and liturgical needs of its female faithful but ranked them among its major orders of clergy, fully ordaining them in a rite virtually identical to that of their male counterparts.” We need to question why the church is not ordaining women today when the cultural barriers of the early church are non-existent.
https://orthodoxdeaconess.org/faqs/

And as far as the ministries of a deaconess not requiring an ordination:

Q. Why can’t women just continue serving without being ordained, like they do now?

A. In order to answer this question, it is helpful to understand what an ordination means in an Orthodox context.  In one sense, we are all “ordained” into the ministry of Christ—the Royal Priesthood—by virtue of our baptism and chrismation.  In a more specific sense, an ordination is a setting apart of people for ministry in a particular community, changing their relationship with the community. Having been recognized by the community, their gifts are then enlivened by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Those elevated to “priesthood” (i.e. bishop, priest, and deacon) are ordained in the context of the Eucharist, at the altar, and by the bishop. Their service is tied to the liturgy and the altar as the source and summit of their ministry.  In concrete terms, they connect the liturgy of our lives to the sacramental life of the Church.  With the blessing of the bishop, their ministry is universal in scope and confers the authority, credibility, recognition, support, and protection of the Church.  It also demands public accountability to the Church and obedience to the bishop.

Lay ministry is important.  However, it does not function in a sacramental capacity in the way that an ordained ministry does.  (For instance, a lay chaplain can visit and pray with the sick, but cannot bring communion to them.)  In addition, the authority, recognition, support, and protection of the Church given to the lay minister can vary greatly.  Furthermore, the accountability of the lay minister to the Church can vary as well.  (This can even be dangerous to those who are being served in areas where accountability and proper training are particularly important (e.g. pastoral care and spiritual direction.))  Moreover, lay ministry is typically more local in scope and usually dependent on the local priest for its exercise.  If the local situation were to change (e.g. a parish gets a new priest who may have a different idea of what a lay minister, in particular a woman, can or should be doing in the church), the ministerial possibilities for her can change abruptly without recourse.
https://orthodoxdeaconess.org/faqs/

And you still haven't answered my questions regarding your assigning sinister motives to anyone advocating the restoration of the office of the deaconess.
 

DeniseDenise

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This.   

I still just don’t get why people who in all other things are loudly rejecting western American culture as ‘not good and something new’ form their opinion on this topic based solely on ‘Orthodoxy in America and what it needs’


 

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Absolutely no need for it in the West, except to appease secular feminism. There is no pastoral need.

If this happens, I expect schism. The liberal schismatics will go the same way as the Anglicans if they don't repent.
 

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Daniel2:47 said:
Absolutely no need for it in the West, except to appease secular feminism. There is no pastoral need.
How would you know?  According to your profile you're a "post-Evangelical exploring the Orthodox Tradition and seeking the truth" who says "I am my own pope".  Many people actually living the Orthodox Tradition - among them clergy, laity, and academics- know better.  You're not even an Orthodox Christian yet and you presume to call people who are actually within the Church "liberal schismatics"?  And you presume to know the pastoral needs of the Orthodox faithful?  The hubris in your post is overwhelming.

Daniel2:47 said:
If this happens, I expect schism. The liberal schismatics will go the same way as the Anglicans if they don't repent.
Or maybe some of the ex-Evangelicals who haven't let go of the baggage from their former tradition - including how they think Orthodoxy should align itself politically, which is oozing from your post - will be the ones who leave the Church if she embraces what is already a part of her living Tradition and in no way an acquiescence to the liberal West.

It seems like you still have a little more inquiring and exploring to do, Your Post-Evangelical Popeyness.  Orthodoxy - including the order of the deaconess, which is still very much alive in some jurisdictions - has been doing fine without American Evangelicalism, and its kneejerk political sensibilities, for the past 2000 years.
 

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I tend to think that the deacon, male or female, is the highest charism that every Christian should aspire at the very least to imitate.  Our Lord Jesus Christ was a deacon (Matthew 20:28), and so should we.

I think there needs to be a good spiritual and theological study of what it means to be a deacon.  We have concentrated so much on the importance of presbyters and bishops, but deacons seem to be in the background and at times looked at as unnecessary and can be replaced by lay leaders and servants.  This attitude has caused confusion as to the general meaning of the deaconate and the orders that are obedient to the deaconate as well.

And we treat it like a rank as well.  There is this understanding that one has to be “ordained” a deacon in order to be a presbyter or bishop.  But I think the meaning was lost.  That shouldn’t be a rise in the ranks, but a prerequisite of spirituality.  In order to be a good presbyter or Bishop, you must learn to perfect your “spiritual deaconate”, which is the highest calling.  One doesn’t cease to be “deacon” when becoming a presbyter or bishop, but only has a specific role of his ministry.

I hope I’m not wrong, but that’s the way I can make sense out of this.  I feel this spirituality can help understand why there shouldn’t be a fear to use the deaconate as a stepping stone into male-only orders, but a specific goal for every Christian laity to achieve, and then few of those Christians are then called into the Apostolic succession, in which males would then be only chosen.  At the same time, this spirituality should also affirm there needs to always be male and female deacons, and that the absence of such ministers that occurred was due to an anomaly in some parts of history.

Those are my speculative two cents though.
 

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Dominika said:
There are some deaconesses in the Antiochian Church in Lebanon: an article in Arabic about it.

I've heard they're in some Greek monasteries.

I would say that deaconess are needed primarily at monasteries and in mission areas. They mabye also needed at some large parish, or, contrary: small but active ones. To help liturgically (chanters, psalmists, readers, bring/take something, church decoration, cleaning), socially, medically, catechetically.
Yeah, most of this stuff, maybe even all these things, may be done without being a deaconess. However, being a decaness firstly, sanction all these things and secondly, it obliges certain women to do certain things.

Frankly speaking, sometimes I'm wondering if it's possible for woman to be a tonsured (I mean, have a chirotesy) reader/psalmist. As from time to time I do this at my parish. And espeically at some rural parishes such women readers or decaoness woudl be better than most of men, who read very hardly, but theyr'e asked to do it jsut becfause of their sex, despite that there are some knowlegable women that know Church Slavonic, melodies for certain types of readings etc. (I'm speaking there about Polish circumstances).
In the Syriac Church, and by imitation, some Coptic dioceses, have already determined that women can be consecrated as chanters in the ecclesial choir.  But the jury is still out on lectors and subdeacons, and an argument is usually made that the answer is “yes, but only in female monastic orders”.
 

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Wasn't Priscilla a deaconess?
 

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And Phoebe...

But then you’ll get argument that would say they were called “deacons” not in the ecclesial sense we may tend to think of them.

Whatever the case may be, there will be two sides of the argument:
1.  Deaconesses are equivalent in charism to liturgical deacons (the null hypothesis...don’t mind me, I’m getting really deep into biostats these days)
2.  Deaconesses are not equivalent in charism to liturgical deacons

And whatever Scripture you pose or historical argument you find, there will be two ways to interpret them, and so this becomes the grey area that confuses everyone and leads no one to a cogent conclusion.
 

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Luke said:
Wasn't Priscilla a deaconess?
From the Greek, διάκονα, or servant.  It's clear from the text that neither Priscilla nor Phoebe had any official liturgical role.  Besides, aren't we all Christians servants of the Lord?
 

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minasoliman said:
I think there needs to be a good spiritual and theological study of what it means to be a deacon.  We have concentrated so much on the importance of presbyters and bishops, but deacons seem to be in the background and at times looked at as unnecessary and can be replaced by lay leaders and servants.  This attitude has caused confusion as to the general meaning of the deaconate and the orders that are obedient to the deaconate as well.
Exactly the same happened in the Catholic Church, Latin or otherwise.  It seems to me that the Eastern Catholic Churches have understood better what the orders of the diaconate and subdeaconate are, while the Latin Church, lacking the latter, seems to have gone overboard a little with the restoration of the deaconate, practically abolished since the Council of Trent.
 

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Sharbel said:
It's clear from the text that neither Priscilla nor Phoebe had any official liturgical role. 
Nor did any other deacons.
 

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Antonious Nikolas said:
Daniel2:47 said:
Absolutely no need for it in the West, except to appease secular feminism. There is no pastoral need.
How would you know?  According to your profile you're a "post-Evangelical exploring the Orthodox Tradition and seeking the truth" who says "I am my own pope".  Many people actually living the Orthodox Tradition - among them clergy, laity, and academics- know better.  You're not even an Orthodox Christian yet and you presume to call people who are actually within the Church "liberal schismatics"?  And you presume to know the pastoral needs of the Orthodox faithful?  The hubris in your post is overwhelming.

Daniel2:47 said:
If this happens, I expect schism. The liberal schismatics will go the same way as the Anglicans if they don't repent.
Or maybe some of the ex-Evangelicals who haven't let go of the baggage from their former tradition - including how they think Orthodoxy should align itself politically, which is oozing from your post - will be the ones who leave the Church if she embraces what is already a part of her living Tradition and in no way an acquiescence to the liberal West.

It seems like you still have a little more inquiring and exploring to do, Your Post-Evangelical Popeyness.  Orthodoxy - including the order of the deaconess, which is still very much alive in some jurisdictions - has been doing fine without American Evangelicalism, and its kneejerk political sensibilities, for the past 2000 years.
So, just because he's inquiring into Orthodoxy means that he has no right to voice his opinion in the debate? Talk about Church inclusiveness!

Well, you might as well ban me from the thread, ban him from the thread - and ban yourself from the thread, considering you are an Oriental Orthodox who isn't even inquiring into Eastern Orthodoxy, who is commenting on an Eastern Orthodox issue, who, by your own logic, should not have the privilege of voicing your opinion.

And I wonder how you can say that this argument against "deaconess ordination" stems from "Evangelical baggage" when, may I remind you, Evangelicals are probably the most hostile group of "Christians" to any idea of organized church governance.

May I also ask how secular feminism today is compatible with Orthodoxy, which is what you are implying? The ideology which treats motherhood as a kind of slavery, and demands an incineration of any kind of distinction between the two genders? An ideology which, out of hubris, tries to create a boogeyman out of the mere concept of masculinity?
 

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LivenotoneviL said:
So, just because he's inquiring into Orthodoxy means that he has no right to voice his opinion in the debate? Talk about Church inclusiveness!
Not at all what I said.  You need to work on your comprehension skills.  What I said was, as an inquirer, he should be more hesitant to condemn those who are already living within the Ark of Salvation as "liberal schismatics", especially when none of the parties mentioned - up to and including the Patriarch of Alexandria - are schismatics, and not every advocate for the restoration of the order of the deaconess could be classified as "liberal".  So yeah, reading is fundamental.  Work on that.

LivenotoneviL said:
Well, you might as well ban me from the thread, ban him from the thread
Nobody is talking about banning anyone from the discussion, so again, work on that reading comprehension thing, but inquirers acting butthurt when the Orthodox Church they've created in their minds doesn't match up with what our living Tradition actually is should at least mind their manners and refrain from reviling actual Orthodox Christians as "liberal schismatics" when they are anything but.

LivenotoneviL said:
and ban yourself from the thread, considering you are an Oriental Orthodox who isn't even inquiring into Eastern Orthodoxy, who is commenting on an Eastern Orthodox issue, who, by your own logic, should not have the privilege of voicing your opinion.
So now we see that your inability to comprehend the written word is surpassed only by your misapplication of logical thought.  Accepting for a moment your assertion that Oriental Orthodox Christians should be placed in the same category as Evangelical Protestants relative to the Eastern Orthodox Church - and ignoring the living witness of the Church and general consensus of the leading theologians of both sides that both families have upheld the same Apostolic Faith for the last 1500 years in a way that Western heretics have not - "by my own logic" I would not be barred from the discussion, but should rather be more careful about condemning those within the Eastern Orthodox Church as "schismatics" when I'm not even in the Church myself.  Try to keep up here.

LivenotoneviL said:
And I wonder how you can say that this argument against "deaconess ordination" stems from "Evangelical baggage" when, may I remind you, Evangelicals are probably the most hostile group of "Christians" to any idea of organized Church governance.
And again, basic courses on reading comprehension are readily available at GED academies across the land.  Look into one.  I never said that that hostility to the Orthodox deaconess stemmed from Evangelical theology or ecclesiology, but rather that tarring Orthodox Christians in favor of reviving their own tradition as "liberals" and "secular feminists" stems from - and I quote - "American Evangelical...kneejerk political sensibilities".  So yeah, you can wipe that dung off of your shoes as you enter the doors of the Church, if you ever do, because trying to remake Orthodoxy in the image of one American political ideology or the other isn't going to fly.  No Orthodox jurisdiction - Eastern or Oriental - is going to ally itself exclusively with the American political right against the "feminists" and the "liberals" as American Evangelicalism has done, and none of that will factor into whether or not the order of the deaconess is revived in this country.
 

LizaSymonenko

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...back to the "why" and the "why not"? 

You cannot simply say because it is ancient practice, blah blah blah.

It is also ancient practice that women should be quiet and not speak in church, nor teach, nor anything.  They should cover up, not wear pants, and not come to church when they are menstruating.  Shall we return to those teachings, as well?  They all make sense and had their true purpose.

As I understand it....deaconesses were a requirement due to the modesty of women back in the day.  Not only could a man not touch a woman, not his wife, he was not allowed to be alone in a room with her, etc.  Therefore, deaconesses were employed to visit the sick women, administer the Eucharist to them, be present at their baptisms, etc.  This was due to modesty.

Until we, women, decide to return to modesty, there's no need for deaconesses.

....why not?

Why not include organs to help the choir stay in tune?  Why not have large TV Monitors so the people in the back can see?  The "why not" question can have countless other "why nots" added to it.

It's not the "why not" that is important....as much as the why.  We do not do things merely "because"...there must be a real purpose to all things.  What is the real purpose?

Is it so women feel more "involved" and like they "participate"? 

As a woman, allow me to say...that I participate fully....I am able to partake of the Eucharist....I am able to confess my sins and obtain forgiveness....I am able to serve the needy, help the orphans, care for the widows.  I bury the dead.

Why do I need to be "ordained" to feel fulfilled....to answer the "calling"?

Is it truly a NEED or a WANT?


 

 

DeniseDenise

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LizaSymonenko said:
...back to the "why" and the "why not"? 

You cannot simply say because it is ancient practice, blah blah blah.

It is also ancient practice that women should be quiet and not speak in church, nor teach, nor anything.  They should cover up, not wear pants, and not come to church when they are menstruating.  Shall we return to those teachings, as well?  They all make sense and had their true purpose.

As I understand it....deaconesses were a requirement due to the modesty of women back in the day.  Not only could a man not touch a woman, not his wife, he was not allowed to be alone in a room with her, etc.  Therefore, deaconesses were employed to visit the sick women, administer the Eucharist to them, be present at their baptisms, etc.  This was due to modesty.

Until we, women, decide to return to modesty, there's no need for deaconesses.

This presumes a very western attitude re: modesty........the places that have already re-established the deaconess have modesty. That 'we'  have lost it, is only true in a fraction of Orthodox lands.

And are we not putting the cart before the horse saying 'lets be modest BEFORE' we do this....rather than...maybe this...would help a return to modesty....
 

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LizaSymonenko said:
...back to the "why" and the "why not"? 

You cannot simply say because it is ancient practice, blah blah blah.

It is also ancient practice that women should be quiet and not speak in church, nor teach, nor anything.  They should cover up, not wear pants, and not come to church when they are menstruating.  Shall we return to those teachings, as well?  They all make sense and had their true purpose.

As I understand it....deaconesses were a requirement due to the modesty of women back in the day.  Not only could a man not touch a woman, not his wife, he was not allowed to be alone in a room with her, etc.  Therefore, deaconesses were employed to visit the sick women, administer the Eucharist to them, be present at their baptisms, etc.  This was due to modesty.

Until we, women, decide to return to modesty, there's no need for deaconesses.

....why not?

Why not include organs to help the choir stay in tune?  Why not have large TV Monitors so the people in the back can see?  The "why not" question can have countless other "why nots" added to it.

It's not the "why not" that is important....as much as the why.  We do not do things merely "because"...there must be a real purpose to all things.  What is the real purpose?

Is it so women feel more "involved" and like they "participate"? 

As a woman, allow me to say...that I participate fully....I am able to partake of the Eucharist....I am able to confess my sins and obtain forgiveness....I am able to serve the needy, help the orphans, care for the widows.  I bury the dead.

Why do I need to be "ordained" to feel fulfilled....to answer the "calling"?

Is it truly a NEED or a WANT?
Thank you!
 

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It's as likely that a flourishing diaconate of women would save the American Orthodox churches from female priests as cause them. When the female aspect of the human soul are restored to their ancient service appointed by the Apostles, a nourishing balance could descend upon Orthodoxy. It is not God's will that this modern imbalance remain, that anyone be reduced to, shall we say, fasting from spiritual service for which mankind was ordained before Creation, as St. Paul says.
 

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LizaSymonenko said:
...back to the "why" and the "why not"? 

You cannot simply say because it is ancient practice, blah blah blah.
No one has said that.  In fact, arguments have been presented that there is a genuine pastoral need that necessitates the reviving of the order.  I don't think that anyone - including the Patriarchate of Alexandria - would revive the order based simply on "because it is an ancient practice, blah blah blah".

LizaSymonenko said:
It is also ancient practice that women should be quiet and not speak in church, nor teach, nor anything.  They should cover up, not wear pants, and not come to church when they are menstruating.  Shall we return to those teachings, as well?  They all make sense and had their true purpose.
All except the pants thing.  There was never a ban on pants.  Women weren't supposed to dress like men and vice versa, but pants aren't necessarily a male article of clothing in modern society.  And not all women's pants are immodest either.

LizaSymonenko said:
As I understand it....deaconesses were a requirement due to the modesty of women back in the day.  Not only could a man not touch a woman, not his wife, he was not allowed to be alone in a room with her, etc.  Therefore, deaconesses were employed to visit the sick women, administer the Eucharist to them, be present at their baptisms, etc.  This was due to modesty.
I don't think that's entirely accurate.  The deaconess did more than assist in situations wherein it would be inappropriate for a man to touch or be with a woman, as outlined on the St. Phoebe the Deaconess site.

LizaSymonenko said:
Until we, women, decide to return to modesty, there's no need for deaconesses.
That's simply one person's opinion.  Besides, I know plenty of women who are already truly modest.

LizaSymonenko said:
....why not?

Why not include organs to help the choir stay in tune?  Why not have large TV Monitors so the people in the back can see?  The "why not" question can have countless other "why nots" added to it.
These things were never a part of our Tradition.  The order of the deaconess was, and in some jurisdictions still is.  There's really no comparison here.

LizaSymonenko said:
It's not the "why not" that is important....as much as the why.  We do not do things merely "because"...there must be a real purpose to all things.  What is the real purpose?
This has already been answered above.

LizaSymonenko said:
Is it so women feel more "involved" and like they "participate"? 
No.

LizaSymonenko said:
As a woman, allow me to say...that I participate fully....I am able to partake of the Eucharist....I am able to confess my sins and obtain forgiveness....I am able to serve the needy, help the orphans, care for the widows.  I bury the dead.

Why do I need to be "ordained" to feel fulfilled....to answer the "calling"?
You don't speak for every woman, and I think it is wrong to assume that any woman who becomes a deaconess is some sort of vainglorious crypto-feminist.  I also think that this speaks to that particular question:

Q. Why can’t women just continue serving without being ordained, like they do now?

A. In order to answer this question, it is helpful to understand what an ordination means in an Orthodox context.  In one sense, we are all “ordained” into the ministry of Christ—the Royal Priesthood—by virtue of our baptism and chrismation.  In a more specific sense, an ordination is a setting apart of people for ministry in a particular community, changing their relationship with the community. Having been recognized by the community, their gifts are then enlivened by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Those elevated to “priesthood” (i.e. bishop, priest, and deacon) are ordained in the context of the Eucharist, at the altar, and by the bishop. Their service is tied to the liturgy and the altar as the source and summit of their ministry.  In concrete terms, they connect the liturgy of our lives to the sacramental life of the Church.  With the blessing of the bishop, their ministry is universal in scope and confers the authority, credibility, recognition, support, and protection of the Church.  It also demands public accountability to the Church and obedience to the bishop.

Lay ministry is important.  However, it does not function in a sacramental capacity in the way that an ordained ministry does.  (For instance, a lay chaplain can visit and pray with the sick, but cannot bring communion to them.)  In addition, the authority, recognition, support, and protection of the Church given to the lay minister can vary greatly.  Furthermore, the accountability of the lay minister to the Church can vary as well.  (This can even be dangerous to those who are being served in areas where accountability and proper training are particularly important (e.g. pastoral care and spiritual direction.))  Moreover, lay ministry is typically more local in scope and usually dependent on the local priest for its exercise.  If the local situation were to change (e.g. a parish gets a new priest who may have a different idea of what a lay minister, in particular a woman, can or should be doing in the church), the ministerial possibilities for her can change abruptly without recourse.
https://orthodoxdeaconess.org/faqs/

LizaSymonenko said:
Is it truly a NEED or a WANT?
Ask the women who have become deaconesses in Africa.  Do you think they did so simply because they WANTED it?
 

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Porter ODoran said:
When the female aspect of the human soul are restored to their ancient service appointed by the Apostles, a nourishing balance could descend upon Orthodoxy. It is not God's will that this modern imbalance remain, that anyone be reduced to, shall we say, fasting from spiritual service for which mankind was ordained before Creation, as St. Paul says.
+1
 

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Antonious Nikolas said:
Ask the women who have become deaconesses in Africa.  Do you think they did so simply because they WANTED it?
....again...different situation.

In America...I do not think we need Deaconesses.

IF we say having Deaconesses will save the Church in America....we are in deep deep trouble....if women (and men) will only come because women are ordained.
 

Iconodule

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LizaSymonenko said:
Antonious Nikolas said:
Ask the women who have become deaconesses in Africa.  Do you think they did so simply because they WANTED it?
....again...different situation.
It is literally the exact situation as discussed in the OP.

The discussion keeps returning to contemporary European-American social battles, as if the world and the Church revolved around them. Stop it.
 

DeniseDenise

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LizaSymonenko said:
Antonious Nikolas said:
Ask the women who have become deaconesses in Africa.  Do you think they did so simply because they WANTED it?
....again...different situation.

In America...I do not think we need Deaconesses.

IF we say having Deaconesses will save the Church in America....we are in deep deep trouble....if women (and men) will only come because women are ordained.

so does the Church and it's leaders....decide things for the entire Church....first...then leave it to the sub-groupings to enact these things as fits their area...YES!


so Liturgists signing an 'in favor' merely attests to the universal nature of the teachings and thus the universal nature of the Church itself.

 

AntoniousNikolas

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LizaSymonenko said:
....again...different situation.
How so?

LizaSymonenko said:
In America...I do not think we need Deaconesses.
Please elaborate on why deaconesses would be permissible in Africa but not here.

LizaSymonenko said:
IF we say having Deaconesses will save the Church in America....we are in deep deep trouble....if women (and men) will only come because women are ordained.
Who said that?  Porter said something about women truly called to ordained service - and I believe there actually are some in the world, and here in the States, though I realize you disagree - not having to fast from said service, but no one said women (and men) will only come to Church if women are ordained.
 
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