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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

There are women among us who should be serving their local Churches as deacons.

Updated: May 4

Friday, September 8, 2023:

There are women among us who should be serving their local Churches as deacons.

At our last celebration we discussed the recent Covid upsurge and whether we should start to wear masks again. I think there's a good reason to mask for our commujnity -- we're older and some of us have compromised immune systems. I've read a lot about masking from CDC, Kaiser Health, Yale Medicine and Sonoma County Health. A few Excerpts and links:

"For anyone who wants to avoid getting covid in crowded indoor settings such as public transportation and grocery stores, I’d recommend wearing the highest-quality mask they can tolerate.

individuals should take matters into their own hands and decide for themselves whether they want the additional level of protection masks can offer. This is especially important as we enter the fall, when respiratory viruses will circulate more and additional measures will be key to preventing disease transmission."

From the Check - Up with Dr. Wren: Link to full article

From Yale Medicine:

Anyone should feel free to wear a mask if they want to, whatever the situation is in their community, when they are inside grocery stores, movie theaters, or other public places, as well as in outdoor public places like parks, the CDC says.

In an interview with NPR in December, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, “You don’t need to wait for the CDC’s recommendation, certainly, to wear a mask.”

I’m not sure it has sunk in how interconnected we are—that what one person does affects the next person, affects the neighborhood, affects two people down the chain—and all that can have consequences,” says infectious diseases specialist Sheela Shenoi, MD, MPH.

At the same time, maybe COVID-19 has led some Americans to think about masks in a new way, Dr. Shenoi adds. “Now that we’ve lived through this, I think masks are much more familiar to us. We know how easy it is—how straightforward it is—to wear a mask. We’ve learned that this is doable.”

Last Sunday's homily from Jim Fredericks:

Today I want you to remember a woman named Phoebe and celebrate all the good that she did for us. In truth, we don’t know very much about Phoebe. We don’t even refer to her as “Saint Phoebe,” but today, September 3rd, is her feast day.

All we know about her is contained in one little verse hidden toward the end of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Here is what Paul wrote,

I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a minister* of the church at Cenchreae, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the holy ones, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a benefactor to many and to me as well.

Cenchreae was one of the ports for the city of Corinth and Paul was preaching in Corinth when he wrote his Letter to the Romans. Most scripture scholars think that Phoebe was Paul’s currier: she brought the letter from Corinth to Rome.

This is why he mentions her at the end of the letter.

In his letter, Paul goes out of his way to say that Phoebe is a “minister of the church.” The word Saint Paul uses for this in ancient Greek is diakanos.

Was Phoebe a deacon? Was she ordained? There are those who are quick to say that Phoebe was not a “real” deacon. Many biblical scholars urge caution about this. They point out that the Church has always changed in order to respond to changing times. Today’s Church is no different. Phoebe was a minister in her Church with weighty responsibilities. Paul trusted her and respected her. He calls her a diakonos without any fuss or controversy.

Saint John Chrysostom, the Patriarch of Constantinople around the year 400 AD, insisted that Phoebe was a deacon in his homilies. She was like the deacons (men and women) that were serving the Church in Constantinople. In Chrysostom’s day, deacons (men and women) worked more closely with the bishops of the Church than even the priests did. They ran the show.

The local Churches in the East never lost track of the fact that women served as diakonoi. They even have ordination rites for deacons and deaconesses. I am touched to think that Paul turned to Phoebe, entrusting her with his letter that has become one of the most important books in the Bible.

I also hope Phoebe was well-received in Rome. Paul introduces her as “our sister.” That’s nice. But he also calls her a diakanos. Paul wants to make clear that “our sister” is also a woman of substance who should be respected in Rome as a leader in the Church in Corinth. Perhaps Paul chose Phoebe to carry his letter because he was confident that she could explain it authoritatively to the people in Rome.

The Synod on Synodality begins on 4 October in Rome. Local Churches in different parts of the world are saying that we need to think about how to support women who are serving our communities. We also need to think about how to formally recognize this service. There are women with deep roots in our local communities with a proven record of outstanding service who should be preaching the Word and ministering sacraments.

There are women among us who should be serving their local Churches as deacons.

I thought of the Christians of Rome who welcomed Phoebe to their local Church when I prayed over the second reading. It’s from the very letter that Phoebe brought to Rome.

Paul tells us, Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

We must not be distracted by “this age,” its illusions and its obsessions. One of the distractions of “this age” is a nostalgia for the Church of the1950s masquerading as authentic tradition. Paul calls us to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit who brings “renewal” to the Church so that we might “discern what is the will of God.”

When Saint Paul entrusted his letter to Phoebe, he was recognizing that she was a leader in the local Church, a woman of substance who would be respected by the local Church in Rome because she had a record of service in Corinth.

There are lots of women like Phoebe in the Church today.

We just need to see them for who they are.

Pray to Saint Phoebe, the diakonos. Pray for the Synod on

Synodality as we come together to discern where the Holy Spirit is leading us today. Think of Phoebe as she made her way to Rome carrying Paul’s letter. The Holy Spirit was with her in her service on that journey.

Remember that we are like Phoebe: this same Holy Spirit is with us today as we make our way on the road together.

Announcement #1:

Eighth Annual Peace Wall Induction Ceremony

Saturday, Sept. 9, 11:00 am,

Sebastopol Downtown Plaza

Help us celebrate this years Honorees: David Harris, Norman Solomon,

Susan Chunco, with special tribute to Daniel Ellsberg

"We honor the peacemakers, whose names are inscribed, who have during their lives worked for peace and against war, for justice and against injustice, for nonviolent resolutions and against violence, and for the common good and against selfishness and greed.

By honoring these outstanding individuals we also honor all who share in the collective desire to rise above differences of race, religion, nationalities and ideologies, to that place where we are all brothers and sisters, where we share a common humanity and a common desire to live in peace with all the people of the world."

"Returning violence with violence only multiplies violence, adding a deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars . . . darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that, hatred cannot drive out hatred only love can do that."

Read all about it and view the photos at:

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