“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?