Women Deacons are technically Ordained Ministers

Women Deacons link all the way back to Phoebe, a female deacon in the New Testament. Phoebe was mentioned by name, and there were countless other female deacons just after the time of Jesus. A Deacon is the same as an ordained minister since they can officiate marriages, perform wedding ceremonies, and other clergy functions in which ordination is required. Deacons are actually ordained in an ordination ceremony. Below is a photo of women deacons being ordained in Armenia, near where the first Christians (such as Phoebe) lived. Asia Minor / Turkey is considered the cradle of Christianity (Israel the birthplace) and Armenia, a land full of the descendants of those ancient Christians, is right next to Turkey. They still ordain women. Very cool.

The Women Deacons of the Armenian Church

July 6, 2013 By 

Hours after this story broke, about the head of the CDF’s remarks on women deacons, the item below popped up in my Google newsfeed. I think it opens a window to a part of the Christian world many of us in the Latin church don’t know about.

The story recounts a talk given last month in Illinois by the historian Knarik O. Meneshian, who gave some of the background behind women deacons in the Armenian Apostolic Church:

“Women deacons, an ordained ministry, have served the Armenian Church for centuries. In the Haykazian Dictionary, based on evidence from the 5th-century Armenian translations, the word deaconess is defined as a ‘female worshipper or virgin servant active in the church and superior or head of a nunnery.’ Other pertinent references to women deacons in the Armenian Church are included in the ‘Mashdots Matenadarn collection of manuscripts from the period between the fall of the Cilician kingdom (1375) and the end of the 16th century, which contain the ordination rite for women deacons.’

“The diaconate is one of the major orders in the Armenian Church. The word deacon means to serve ‘with humility’ and to assist. The Armenian deaconesses historically have been called sargavak or deacon. They were also referred to as deaconess sister or deaconess nun. The other major orders of the church are bishop and priest. The deaconesses, like the bishops and monks, are celibate. Their convents are usually described as anabad, meaning, in this case, not a ‘desert’ as the word implies, but rather ‘an isolated location where monastics live away from populated areas.’ Anabads differ from monasteries in their totally secluded life style. In convents and monasteries, Armenian women have served as nuns, scribes, subdeacons, deacons, and archdeacons (‘first among equals’), as a result not only giving of themselves, but enriching and contributing much to our nation and church. In the 17th century, for example, the scribe and deaconess known as Hustianeh had written ‘a devotional collection of prayers and lives of the fathers, and a manuscript titled Book of Hours, dated 1653.’

…To appreciate more fully the role of the deaconess in the church, Father Abel Oghlukian’s book, The Deaconess In The Armenian Church, refers to Fr. Hagop Tashian’s bookVardapetutiun Arakelots… (Teachings of the Apostles…), Vienna, 1896, and Kanonagirk Hayots(Book of Canons) edited by V. Hakobyan, Yerevan, 1964, in which a most striking thought is expressed:

If the bishop represents God the Father and the priest Christ, then the deaconess, by her calling, symbolizes the presence of the Holy Spirit, in consequence of which one should accord her fitting respect.

“Over the centuries, in some instances, the mission of the Armenian deaconesses was educating, caring for orphans and the elderly, assisting the indigent, comforting the bereaved, and addressing women’s issues. They served in convents and cathedrals, and the general population…

“Mkhitar Gosh (l130-1213), who was a priest, public figure, scholar, thinker, and writer, ‘defended the practice of ordaining women to the diaconate,’ Ervine writes, and she adds that in his law book titled, On Clerical Orders and the Royal Family, Gosh  described women deacons and their specific usefulness in the following words:

There are also women ordained as deacons, called deaconesses for the sake of preaching to women and reading the Gospel. This makes it unnecessary for a man to enter the convent or for a nun to leave it.

When priests perform baptism on mature women, the deaconesses approach the font to wash the women with the water of atonement behind the curtain.

Their vestments are exactly like those of nuns or sisters, except that on their forehead they have a cross; their stole hangs from over the right shoulder.

Do not consider this new and unprecedented as we learn it from the tradition of the holy apostles: For Paul says, ‘I entrust to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon of the church.’

Read more.

Religion in America in 1776

Religion in America in 1776

July 4, 2013 By 

An interesting look back: 

When the Declaration of Independence was drafted on July 4, 1776, religious practice in the 13 colonies of the United States was colorful and varied. The quest for independence — as well as loyalist resistance to the cause — permeated church life and teachings across denominational lines. Patriots argued that their fight was God-ordained, while many Anglican clergy were bound by oath to pray for the King and the royal family.

Benjamin Franklin depicts God’s role in the revolution in his design for the Great Seal of the United States. Circling an image of Moses parting the Red Sea and leading the Israelites out of Egypt is the inscription, “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.” Cast in 1752 in Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell bears the words of Lev. 25:10, “Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all inhabitants thereof.” And the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence cite God as the author of the quest for freedom: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Around the time of the Revolutionary War, most American Christians belonged to Anglican, Congregationalist, or Presbyterian groups. In 1776, there were also around 2,000 Jews (mostly Sephardic) and five synagogues in the colonies. The average size of a church congregation was around seventy-five members, and religious adherence amounted to only 17 percent of the total population.

The effect of the struggle for independence on religious practice was most visible in Anglican parishes. Since Anglican priests pledged loyalty to the King as a part of their ordination vows, many remained faithful to the British and continued with liturgical prayers for the monarchy. Boston’s King’s Chapel was a thriving Anglican congregation during this time, with “box pews,” or small enclosures owned and even decorated by wealthy families, on the main floor, and “unboxed pews” for black or poor church members on the second floor. King’s Chapel was the first church in New England to incorporate music into its services, having both a choir and an organ. Popular at the time was the hymn, “Old 100th,” commonly sung today as a doxology (“Praise God from whom all blessings flow”).

Led by a Loyalist priest, King’s Chapel closed its doors after the British retreat on Evacuation Day (March 17, 1776) rather than allow the patriots to take over. Other Anglican congregations aligned themselves with the revolutionary cause and chose to change the liturgy rather than abandon it entirely. The rector of Christ Church in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, pasted strips of paper with prayers for the Continental Congress over the prayers for the King in the Book of Common Prayer. At a vestry meeting on July 4, 1776, Philadelphia’s Christ Church made a similar move, replacing the prayers for the King with a prayer for the wisdom of the new government: “That it may please thee to endue the Congress of the United States & all others in Authority, legislative, executive, & judicial with grace, wisdom & understanding, to execute Justice and to maintain Truth.”

Rev. Peter Muhlenberg made a bold display of patriotism before his Anglican congregation in Woodstock, Va. At the conclusion of a sermon in January 1776, he threw off his clerical robes to reveal his Virginia military uniform. During the struggle for independence, a number of ministers left their congregations to work as chaplains or take up arms, even some Quakers who felt that the cause of independence superseded their commitment to pacifism.

Read the rest. 

Atheism Monument Bench proves Creator Exists?

Here’s a nice little ontological argument piece based on the atheism monument bench installed in Florida next to a 10 Commandments monument. Yes, this short piece is based on the “intelligent design” argument, but I have always found that compelling. It did it for great minds Thomas Aquinas, so who am I to feel superior? Hah. Wholeheartedly agree with the author that listing Old Testament punishments do not express the tenets of atheism. It’s really just Judaism-Christianity-bashing, not Atheism-glorifying. But I love the ironic twist regarding the bench itself being a nice sleek design. I’ve actually visited the town where this atheism bench was installed. Makes me wanna go and try it out.

Atheists Argue Against Themselves With New Monument

C. S. Lewis said: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

Let’s say you are walking down the street, and someone comes up to you, stopping you dead in your tracks. They hold out their arm, around which a watch is strapped, and they tell you that the watch was designed and manufactured by Timex. You examine the watch, observe its hands ticking, and see the Timex label etched on the back. Would you believe them? You would have no reason not too.

Now suppose the same person came up to you, and told you that the watch they were wearing had just appeared one day on their arm; where before, there was nothing. The watch carries the exact same complexities, but lacks any designer label. Would you believe them? Obviously not. Simply seeing the complexities of the watch, one immediately; instinctually knows that something that is that complex must have been designed by an intelligence.

This will be relevant; I promise. But for now, I’m going to change the subject. According to the Associated Press: “A group of atheists unveiled a monument to their nonbelief in God on Saturday to sit alongside a granite slab that lists the Ten Commandments in front of the Bradford County courthouse.”

David Silverman, President of American Atheists, said: “When you look at this monument, the first thing you will notice is that it has a function. Atheists are about the real and the physical, so we selected to place this monument in the form of a bench.”

Being that we live in a free society, people have the right to believe whatever they want to believe; or not believe, as the case may be. But what interests me the most about this bench of non-belief is the statement it is unintentionally making. One of the features of the bench is a carved out list of punishments from the Old Testament. This is clearly intended to mock believers. The inclusion of this feature is an aggressive act.

Atheists have within them an aggression; an aggression toward anything and anyone who believes in God. They will deny it, of course. They will say that religion is the great aggressor. But in the end, it is atheists who—in their mockery and disdain of belief and believers—position themselves as the agitator.

The unintended statement that this bench is making is that of an obnoxious child, trying to assert himself to his parents. He sees what his parents believe, and he wants to be different. The problem is, he doesn’t know why he wants to be different; or how to actualize his want. So, rather than create something new, he takes what already exists, and rejects it. His actions are a negative. He looks at a complex piece of machinery—like a wrist watch—and despite instinctually knowing that it cannot have come from nowhere, out of nothing, by chance; the need he feels to deviate from his parents drives him to reject common sense, in favor of absurdity.

Within the heart of every human being is the understanding that we were created. The atheists cannot remove that etching in our metal, so they cover it over. The problem is: hiding something is not the same as removing it. What is hidden still exists, whether or not we want it to.

That is what this non-belief bench represents: a vacuum. It represents the rejection of the actual, in favor of an empty space. The funny thing is, by its very nature as a designed and constructed piece of architecture (so that it may “function,” as David Silverman intended), the atheist bench is a contradiction of atheism. Anyone looking at the bench will know, due to its complexity, that an intelligence had to have created it. They will look at the bench and think: “I wonder who the designer was?” Indeed.