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.
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.
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.
We have " widows having precedence " or presbyteresses, three in number, deaconesses, virgins, and widows who are in receipt of the alms of the Church; and the first-named occupy a place of very great dignity, which is almost unequalled elsewhere (excepting in the earlier form of the apocryphal and Montanistic Acts and Martyrdom of Matthew, where the relation of the IrpeO(3ETC and deaconess corresponds with that of the Testament), and which was formally condemned by the Council of Laodicea in Phrygia.
They speak of the ordination of bishops (the so-called Clementine Liturgy is that which is directed to be used at the consecration of a bishop, cc. 5-15), of presbyters, deacons, deaconesses, subdeacons and lectors, and then pass on to confessors, virgins, widows and exorcists; after which follows a series of canons on various subjects, and liturgical formulae.
There is no precise arrangement; but the subjects, following a general introduction, are the bishop and his duties, penance, the administration of the offerings, the settlement of disputes, the divine service, the order of widows, deacons and deaconesses, the poor, behaviour in persecution, and so forth.
Deacons anointed the males, deaconesses the females.
(1900), to which may be added to institutions of deaconesses, many of whom live in community under rule.
This charitable activity, however, distinguishes the modern sister from the nuns of primitive and medieval times, who were cloistered and contemplative, and left external works to deaconesses, or to laywomen of a " third order," or to the freer societies like the Beguines.