This morning we are installing [LIST NAMES] to the ministry of deaconess at Tenth Presbyterian Church.
Since the earliest days of the church, Christian women have been active in mercy ministry. Women provided financial support for Jesus during his earthly ministry, and brought spices to bury his body after death. Dorcas “was always doing good and helping the poor” (Acts 9:36). Tryphena and Tryphosa “worked hard in the Lord” (Rom. 16:12). And Phoebe was dignified with the title “deaconess” (Rom. 16:1).
We use the same title here at Tenth, where the ministry of women with special gifts for helping and showing mercy are organized on a board of deaconesses. Their role is to assist God’s people in worship, to practice hospitality, to care for the poor and the sick, and to demonstrate God’s mercy by caring for the physical needs of God’s people. Their servant ministry is a reflection of the ministry of Jesus Christ, who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).
The ministry of deaconess is difficult and demanding. I want to say to our new and returning deaconesses, that we praise God for your desire to show mercy, and we pray that as God gives you the grace and strength to serve, he will help you to become more and more like Christ in your service. Now I invite you to take the vows of your ministry:
- Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as originally given, to be the inerrant Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
- Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?
- Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in America, in conformity with the general principles of biblical polity?
- Do you accept the ministry of deaconess in this church, and promise faithfully to perform all the duties thereof, and to endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the Gospel in your life, and to set a worthy example before the church in which God has given you this ministry?
- Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
- Do you promise to strive for the purity, peace, unity and edification of the church?
To the congregation: “Do you, the members of this church, acknowledge and receive these sisters as deaconesses, and do you promise to yield them all that honor and encouragement in the Lord to which their ministry, according to the Word of God and the Constitution of this church, entitle them?
At this time I invite our other deaconesses, past as well as present, to come up and join your sisters for prayer.
I now pronounce and declare that LIST NAMES have been regularly elected and installed as deaconesses in Tenth Church, agreeable to the Word of God, and in submission to the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America; and that as such they are entitled to all encouragement and honor in the Lord: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.