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Documents of Synod:
Studies of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod
(1965 to 1982)

OVERTURE N:
RECONSIDERATION OF WOMEN DEACONS

[156th General Synod Minutes, 16 June 1978, pp. 133-134; Documents of Synod, pp. 156-157.]

BILLS AND OVERTURES COMMITTEE REPORT

Rev. Charles B. Holliday, Jr. presented the report indicating that Overture N would be considered first.

OVERTURE N: RECONSIDERATION OF WOMEN DEACONS

Whereas the 155th General Synod of the RPCES did not affirm that the Scriptures by an express injunction forbid the ordination of women to the office of deacon, but rather that the office be limited to men on the grounds of "the absence of any compelling evidence to support the ordination of women to the special office of deacon," and

Whereas there is a significant body of opinion within the RPCES which holds that in view of the distinction between the office of elder, to which alone is committed the ruling/teaching function, and the office of deacon, to which is committed only the delegated authority of the serving function (see Minutes, 155th General Synod [RPCES], p. 110), women are not excluded from the latter on the grounds of the role relationship which excludes them from the former; and further, that in view of the inclusion of women in Paul's list of qualifications for persons holding recognized positions in the church in 1 Timothy 3, and his commendation of Phoebe as a diakonos of the church at Cenchrea in Romans 16:1, that there is sufficient Biblical evidence to warrant the setting apart of women as well as men to the diaconate.

Therefore, the Michigan-Northern Indiana Presbytery respectfully overtures the 156th General Synod of the RPCES to affirm the prerogatives of each particular church within the denomination to determine whether its diaconate shall include women as well as men, and whether they shall be ordained or unordained, and whether they shall be called "deacons" or "deaconesses."

RESPONSE:

Resolved:
That in light of the action of the 155th General Synod, we do not recommend allowing each particular church within the denomination to determine whether its diaconate shall include women as well as men and that they not be allowed to ordain a woman as a deacon. We also remind churches that they are free to elect Spirit-filled women as deaconnesses and set them apart by prayer.

DISCUSSION AND ACTIONS:

A substitute motion was presented, i.e.:

Resolved: That the 156th General Synod of the RPCES affirms the prerogative of each particular church within the denomination to determine whether its diaconate shall include women as well as men, and whether they shall be ordained or unordained, and whether they shall be called "deacons" or "deaconnesses."

In accordance with Robert's Rules of Order re. substitute motions, the Committee's response was amended so as to read:

Resolved: That in light of the action of the 155th General Synod, we do not recommend allowing each particular church within the denomination to determine whether its diaconate shall include women as well as men, nor that they be allowed to ordain a woman as a deacon. We also remind churches that they are free to elect Spirit-filled women as deaconnesses and set them apart by prayer.

At 4:30 p.m., the orders of the day were called. Elder Emerson Russell closed the sessions with prayer.

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