Deaconess Board President

 

 

SUPERVISED BY: Pastor in Charge

PREPARED BY: Pastor in Charge

 

PRINCIPAL FUNCTIONS:

  • To reach out to the lost.

  • To meet with the Board at least once monthly.

  • To assist the Pastor with administering the Sacraments.

  • To prepare and decorate the Pulpit for all worship services.

  • To make provisions for the poor.

  • To visit the sick.

OTHER DUTIES:

  • Dress with uniformity.

  • Be attentive to the needs of the Pastor.

  • Seated on the front or right side pew or designated place.

SKILLS & QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS:

  1. In good standing with the A.M. E Zion Church.

  2. Women of modesty

  3. Gentle approach

     

FOR DEACONESSES

(Written by G. Alexander Brooks; edited by Bishop Louis Hunter, Sr.)

This information is designed, first, to direct prospective Deaconesses in a brief study to give a general knowledge of essentials of the deaconesship and to serve as a refresher course for those who have already been consecrated to this office. A brief historical sketch and a discussion of personality, qualifications, and training and duties will suggest a consistent, extensive and continued study for better service in this important office of the Church.

 

HISTORY OF THE DEACONESSHIP

The word “deacon”, from the Greek “diakonos”, literally means “one who serves”, one who minsters to others. The office of the Deacon became necessary soon after church was launched at Pentecost The feminine form of Deaconess did not occur until sometime later. In Romans 16:1-2, Paul says, “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the Church at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself, also”

 

Soon after deacons were chosen it became necessary for women to assist the Apostles in their work, especially as it was related to teaching woman and serving in other ways which could be done better by women than by men. There are indications as in the case of Dorcas (Acts 9:36) and others, that the service of women was held in highest esteem by the Church and had a distinctive character.

 

In the Post- Apostolic Age, Pliny makes the only reference to such workers in the Church in a letter to Trajan about 110 A.D. He speaks of young women who are called “ministrae”, that is deaconesses.

 

When the Apostolic Constitution was written, widows and deaconesses were distinct groups the former occupying a position inferior to the latter. Different rules were given for the consecration of each group.

 

In the fourth century the order of widows was abandoned, but not that of deaconesses. In 325 A.D. The Council of Nicaea spoke only of deaconesses, while in 533 A.D. the Council recognized the widows who were called deaconesses. Later both orders fell into disuse because of the abuses by Montanous, who allowed women to preach. He also traveled about the country with two women, which gave cause for much scandal.

 

Following a period of probation, the Council of Chalcedon allowed deaconesses to be consecrated at the age of forty, which was also the requirement of the Justinian Code. There are only one or two instances where they were consecrated earlier, as the case recorded by Tertullian that a virgin was admitted at the age of twenty, This, however, was regarded as a nororius irregularity. At the age of eighteen, Olympias of Constantinople was praised by Chrysostom for becoming a deaconess. In the Middle Ages, heretical sects freely ordained deaconess. The Church of Wesel and the Puritans of Amsterdam, form their beginning, employed women for such services. In the A.M.E. Zion Church, the office of Deaconess is the only lay office to which one must be consecrated.

 

Personality of the Deaconess

Personality is important, and traits or characteristics that make for a desirable personality should be cultivated. These are appearance, attitudes, habits, sociability, patience, sympathy, understanding and calmness under emotional conditions.

 

Any woman feeling the call to be a deaconess should examine herself to see if she possesses these characteristics, for as a deaconess she will be often called upon to deal with both the social and spiritual life of others.

 

Qualifications of the Deaconess

There is abundant proof that in the early Church devout Christian women rendered excellent service. Servant and deaconess being synonymous terms, for women who served were called deaconess.

 

Read again Romans 16:1-3

 

Qualifications of a deaconess are well stated by Paul. They are similar to those of the deacon. Let us consider a few passages from his first letter to Timothy.

  1. Not a slander (1 Timothy 3:11). Another translation says, “not gossips.” A gossip cannot make a good deaconess. Like the worthy woman of Proverbs 31: 26, “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” One of the great temptations of life is to keep silent while others are saying unkind things about another, but the good deaconess will learn to speak wisely and in love.

  2. Be grave (3:8,11) Always cheerful, but never silly. She should be a woman of understanding, weighing wisely every suggestion or bit of advice before speaking. She should not laugh at those things that should be taken seriously,

  3. Not double-tongued (3:8). She should never be on both sides of a question, or undecided about matters affecting another’s welfare, or concerning right or wrong. The matter of confidence is a sacred trust, and should be held sacred. A deaconess should never be guilty of talking about others in any way except the good. If she cannot say the kind thing, then she should say nothing.

  4. Sober(3:11) . A record of temperance should be behind the life of a deaconess. Intoxicating liquor should never be mixed with the work of the Lord, and a woman who drinks disqualifies herself for this desirable type of service. One who gets intoxicated cannot be sober in her thinking. And if a woman is not sober in her thought, how can she be sober in her living?

  5. Faithful in all things (3:11). She should be trustworthy, dependable, faithful to her God, to her Church, to her Pastor, and to herself, never leaving undone the things that she is obligated to do, so far as in her lies strength and ability.

  6. Reported of for good work (5:10). She is to be known for her unselfish service. Dorcas is a good example (Acts 9:36). Her love for God flowed out to those around who were in need, but because it was a service she could render “as unto Him”.

  7. Hospitable (5:10). The world is truly afflicted: death, suffering, broken homes, poverty, disease and sorrow are everywhere, and the deaconess must ever be ready to help. The unfortunate must not be left “on the Jericho road”- and they will not be left when the good deaconess passes by

     

    Training for Deaconess

     

    Whatever may be one’s calling, training is essential. If one wishes to become a lawyer, physician, musician, or teacher, he knows he must have the proper training.

     

    A deaconess should feel the call to this office. “If any man desire the office of bishop, he desireth a good work” (1 Timothy 3:1). The minister may discover that a young woman has ability and has felt the call of God. When certain qualities are exemplified in her daily life and he is convinced that they are genuine, then he may suggest that she be trained for this work. Such selection should be considered, with humility, as an honor.

     

    Jesus kept His disciples in training for three years, and carefully educated both mind and heart. He taught them how to pray, how to approach people, and how to deal gently with those who needed their help, to love their enemies and to do good to them that persecuted and despitefully used them.

     

    Too often a woman who has been consecrated to the office of deaconess allows herself to feel that she is qualified. After she has had a few  months training the consecration service should help her feel her insufficiency, and convince her that study of God’s Word on these matters must be continued.

     

    Deaconess should be trained to pray, to sacrifice, to be obedient, to love, to tell the truth, to be calm and submissive and unafraid. The pastor will train, advise and guide them in how to counsel those in need, and how to help in time of crises.

     

    Duties of Deaconesses

     

    Regular visitation should be made by the Deaconess to the sick, convalescent and needy members of the parish. Be ready to understand with sympathy the vast problems of young and old. The deaconess is to pray with those who desire prayer,

     

    Deaconesses must not take sides with unbecoming rumors. They should not allow themselves to be receptacles for gossip.

    The president should devise a monthly roster so that the duties are evenly shared for the following (as directed by and at the discretion of the pastor): (1) Two deaconesses on the duty and in uniform to stand with the minister when the doors of the Church are opened to assist with new members. The hymn book should be turned to the page for the reception of New Members. (2) Two deaconesses on duty at church during wakes and funerals, (3) At least two deaconesses to assist with Baptism. (4) The Board of Deaconesses should see to it that the Sacrament of Communion is prepared for the pastor to consecrate and that the table is properly prepared for the people. This includes the preparation of clean white linen, shining silver, and properly displaying emblems and colors for the season. The bread and grape3 juice are also to be made ready for consecration for the Lord’s Supper.

     

    Other Considerations

     

    The age (approximately 40 years of age) of the women on the board should be balanced. Just as young men and women are urged to answer the call to the ministry, young women should also seek to know early what the Master would have them to do, and answer His call. Younger women on the board bring strength physically and mentally and can add vigor to the overall service rendered by the strength physically and mentally and can add vigor to the overall service rendered by the Board. Likewise, the older members of the Board provide the wisdom of experience and the beauty of a good example to help groom the younger women in this life of dedication and service.

     

    Because the members of this Board are consecrated,  the spirit of working together in harmony and love should abound. The spirituality of the Board should be deep; and it is each woman’s duty to seek spiritual growth and knowledge that will enhance her Christian life and add to the ministry of the Board. Bible study, prayer meeting, Sunday School, daily devotions will deepen spirituality, and the deaconess should seek to participate in them as often as possible.

     

    From the Discipline, A.M.E. Zion Church: