The law includes with clerics, monks, deaconesses, nuns, ascetics; and the word " clerics " covered persons in minor orders, down to doorkeepers.
The church officers (generally unpaid) comprise bishops (or ministers), elders, teachers, deacons (or visiting brethren) and deaconesses - chiefly aged women who are permitted at times to take leading parts in church services.
Deaconesses in the East received the imposition of the bishop's hands, but could not ascend to the priesthood.
To ascertain the truth, he had also put to the torture two maid-servants described as deaconesses, but had discovered nothing beyond a perverse and extravagant superstition.
The beginning of the modern system dates from the foundation of the institute for training deaconesses at Kaiserswerth by Pastor Fliedner in 1836.
On the continent institutes for nursing deaconesses were founded at Strassburg, Utrecht, Berlin, Breslau, Konigsberg and Carlsruhe between 1842 and 1851.
It is quite certain that from the 3rd century onward there existed in the Eastern Church an order of women, known as deaconesses, who filled a position analogous to that of deacons.
The order is recognized in the canons of the councils of Nicaea (325) and Chalcedon (451), and is frequently mentioned in the writings of Chrysostom (some of whose letters are addressed to deaconesses at Constantinople), Epiphanius, Basil, and indeed most of the more important Fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries.
Deaconesses, upon entering their office, were ordained much in the same way as deacons, but the ordination conveyed no sacerdotal powers or authority.
Several specimens of the ordination service for deaconesses have been preserved (see Cecilia Robinson, The Ministry of Deaconesses, London, 1878, appendix B, p. 197).
Whether deaconesses, in the later sense of the term, existed before 250 is a disputed point.
1 i: after stating the qualifications necessary for deacons the writer adds, "Women in like manner must be grave - not slanderers," &c.; the Authorized Version took the passage as referring to deacons' wives, but many scholars think that by "women" deaconesses are meant.
On the whole the evidence does not seem sufficient to prove the contention that an order of deaconesses - in the ecclesiastical sense of the term - existed from the apostolic age.
In 1833 Pastor Fleidner founded "an order of deaconesses for the Rhenish provinces of Westphalia" at Kaiserswerth.
The members of these institutions do not represent the ecclesiastical deaconesses, however, since they are not ministers set apart by the Church; and the sisterhoods are merely voluntary associations of women banded together for spiritual fellowship and common service.
"On the Early History and 1Vlodern Revival of Deaconesses" (London, 1899), and the works there referred to; D.
"Sisters of the People" and deaconesses, for whom there is a training home at Ilkley, founded by Dr Stephenson in 1902, have also done much to help in these modern developments of Methodism.
At that time England was sadly behind-hand in matters of nursing and sanitation, and Miss Nightingale, who desired to obtain the best possible teaching for herself, went through a course of training in the Institute of Protestant Deaconesses at Kaiserswerth.