Friday, November 27, 2009


The Apostolic Constitutions (a collection of Eastern Church ecclesiastical instructions collected into one work in the 4th Century) provides historians with the clearest idea of how deaconesses were involved in the administration of the early church. Briefly, the Constitutions show that a deaconess served the church by caring for the needs of other women in specifically designated ways:

1. She was a doorkeeper at the women's entrance to the church.
2. She showed women to their places in the church, taking care to meet the particular needs of the poor and strangers.
3. She instructed women catechumens and visited their homes where men could not go.
4. She carried out certain duties pertaining to the Baptism of women.
5. She provided for the physical and spiritual needs of women in prison during times of persecution.
6. She cared for the sick and sorrowing.
7. She served as a "mediator" for the resolution of disagreements in families or among friends.

In light of Romans 16:1, it is interesting to see the Constitutions state that both deacons and deaconesses carry out work pertaining to "messages, journeys to foreign parts, ministrations, services."

1 comment:

  1. Dear Cheryl, Thank you so much for your comment on my blog. I had intended to put a brief note there and respond to your post here because I'm really interested in the ancient model as described in the Apostolic Constitutions as a template for a revived order of deaconess. However, I ended up falling to my usual temptation and writing much more than I had originally planned, and managed to combine both answers into one in response to your comment on my post. :-)