Well, I missed the first Friday Five of the new year, but I'm not much for New Year's resolutions - I rarely keep them and they're usually the same things every year anyway. This is the end of the first week of the New Year and I'm in a bit of a quandry about getting commissioned as a Deaconess. This is something I started working on several years ago, but now that it may finally be completed, I'm not feeling so sure.
Over the last 4 years as I've been in seminary, I've constantly had to explain the path I was on - who the deaconesses are and what kind of work I thought my call was leading me to do. When I went to my discernment event, there was a moment where things just clicked - I felt like I had found my niche, a place where I fit in within the institutional church (just on the fringe of that institution because nobody really knows what to do with them). I had women telling about their roles in various wars, and tips on things to do when protesting the govt (don't bring ID and make up and a name so it can't come back to haunt you later) - they were amazing!
Yet now that I've had to answer more questions in print and sign my name on the definite "yes" line, I'm having second thoughts. I still have total respect for what deaconesses and home missioners do and I'd still be working in the non-profit world no matter what else I did. I'm not really sure where the uncertainty comes from. I think part of it is questioning whether to become a part of the institution at all. And if I get commissioned, that means I'm forever turning my back on ordination. Just because the church won't ordain me now, doesn't mean they won't 15 years from now. But do I want to be ordained? I know I don't want to be a pastor, but I think the role of a Deacon would be a real possibility. Still, the differences between Deacon and deaconess are up for debate. How much different is commissioning than ordination as a Deacon? In the end I think the only difference is how it gets seen in the hierarchy - a hierachy I don't really want any part of anyway! There's much more respect in the church for someone who is ordained than commissioned, and regardless of what they say for the record, deacons are seen and treated as a secondary level of ordination (they don't get appointments, health care benefits, pensions, etc.). I want respect. I have an MDiv and think I've earned the right to be respected on the same level as my peers who have simply chosen to become pastors. But that title makes a lot of difference. I don't want it to be that way and I don't want to care. I wish I could just do what I feel like I need to do and leave everyone else's opinions out of it.