It is not just a piece of paper

“They already have women deacons, they just don’t call them that,” so says Van Christian, pastor of a Baptist church in Texas.

That reminds me of the flack over whether or not getting married meant anything.  “It is just a piece of paper. We don’t need that to prove our commitment.”

Actually, they did, and the church needs the right kind of paper saying that a deacon is a deacon.

“Whatever their titles, Baptist women minister,” is an article in the Baptist Standard. It tells about a woman, Barbara Hessong, who has the title of minister to children.  She used to be called Children’s director at another church.  The duties were the same of course, and I am sure the pay was about the same, too.  Little.  Compared to the men’s salaries who were “minister” of this and that.

Hessong goes on to say “Whatever church situation you are in, whether you carry the title or not, you are a minister. It is not all about the title, but it sure helps.”

It sure does help.  It honors a church’s obligation to the women of their congregation. It is a dishonor when a person is given a job or responsibility but not the title. You can bet the pastor wants to be called “Pastor.” What if he had the job but not the title?  Same difference.

We know titles matter, because we see those same titles withheld from women.  If they didn’t matter, all women in a church would be called “deacons,” ordained or not.

It matters. It matters when a church sneaks around the real title by using a lesser title. It is dishonest. It puts the church in the position of being unfair to both the congregation and to the person doing the job.

It’s got to change, folks. A deacon is the highest non-clergy position in a church.  It is unpaid, but it holds the status of being a pastor, because the qualifications for a deacon is the same qualifications required for a pastor. That is a big thing.

Will you look around your church at the jobs that women are doing to see if the church is being honest in its titles for those women? Will you speak out for all women workers in the church? Will you call a deacon, a deacon – no matter if that person is not a man?

Will you insist that your church gives her a piece of paper to legitimize the relationship?

About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
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6 Responses to It is not just a piece of paper

  1. tommy9999 says:

    That men can treat women like this makes me mad! Let the Women serve as God has called them and gifted them. The Southern Baptist Convention has a woman problem. The 2000 BF&M sure gets used a lot against women, ask the Pastor at Flat Rock Baptist Church in NC..

    I tell you what tells me the most these days–The 125 anniversary of the WMU is this year and i’ve not heard one word out of the big boys of the SBC to celebrate this hugh milestone.

    Heaven forbid they recognize this Godly organization that saved the SBC financially several times in the past.


  2. Katia says:

    No wonder women are leaving Christ and the church. They face enough discrimination in the workforce. When the same thing happens in the church, why should they come to Christ?

    But all is not doom and gloom. There’s a seminary in my hometown that has a deaconess program. And on Election Day I was an Inspector (precinct boss) at a polling place located in a small rural church where both staff members-pastor and administrative assistant-were women.


    • Christians sing about love (They’ll know we are Christians by our love) but they often miss the mark. They try so hard to get the letter of the law down that they forget that Jesus said the message was about loving God and loving your neighbor. Sometimes I think so much emphasis is placed on loving God that we become unforgiving of those who don’t show that love the same way we do.


  3. greghahn4 says:

    The opening line made me laugh. “They already have women deacons, they just don’t call them that.” I had to double-check to see if I was being quoted, because I know I’ve said that same line, verbatim. I was on the board of a church, and trying to get our women recognized. I had two of them nominated as new deacons to be added, and pointed out that from the position paper that we had just finished writing, these women, more than anyone in the church, completely fulfill that role already. In this church, the vote wasn’t given to the congregation- but the vote was solely among the existing board. (It was not a Baptist church.) The pastor was against it, and always had a few people that automatically voted with him. That was enough to kill the women’s chances.

    To compound matters- the deacons there were pretty much symbolic. They would meet once a month to vote “yes”to whatever the pastor wanted, and that was almost all they ever did. Those two women did all the work of true deacons. But never got recognized for it.


    • Welcome! I’ve just returned from vacation and was not near a computer to approve your comment. Oh yes, churches have these illigitament (gosh, I can’t even spell today) relationships with their church members. You see, the piece of paper, the by-laws, says women can’t do it. But then the church sneaks around and gets the work done by women.

      Glad you stopped by!


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