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The American Church Dictionary and Cycopedia


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In the Apostles' time there were holy women set apart for the work of the Church, for example Phoebe, the servant or deaconess, who was commended by St. Paul. This order of Deaconesses continued until about the seventh century, when the changed conditions of the Church interfered with its usefulness. In many places the order has of late years been revived and is demonstrating its original usefulness. The American Church has recognized the need of such an order of women in its work, and in the general canons provision is made for establishing the order and for its continuance and regulation. According to these, a woman to be admitted to the office of Deaconess must be at least twenty-five years of age, a communicant of the Church, and fit and capable to discharge the duties of the office. Before she can act as a Deaconess she must be set apart for that office by an appropriate religious service. When thus set apart she shall be under the direct oversight of the Bishop of the Diocese, to whom she may resign her office at any time, but having once resigned her office she is not privileged to be reappointed thereto unless the Bishop shall see "weighty cause for such reappointment."

Training Schools for Deaconesses have been established in various parts of the country where candidates for this office receive special instruction and are trained for their work.

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Bibliography Information
Miller, William James. Entry for 'Deaconess'. The American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. 1901.

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