from Sunday Forum, September 12, 2021   
presented by Amandus Derr, Interim Senior Pastor 


  1. Early Church
  2. By the time 1 Timothy 3:1-13 was written, (late first to mid-Second Century CE) an order of Bishops, Elders (Pastors), and Deacons seem to have already existed in most of the early church.
  3. Concerning the office of bishop (episkopos,meaning “overseer”), the author speaks of qualities of those seeking that office, but does not actually outline the responsibilities of the office. It includes some kind of administrative leadership since the person is supposed to be able to manage his own household as a prerequisite for his work in the church.
  4. There is more specificity for the duties of the presbyter (presbyteros,meaning “elder”). Presbyters have leadership functions of some kind, since at least some of them should be honored because they “rule well,” and some of them teach. There is a “council of elders” or presbytery (presbyterion, which the NRSV translates as “council of elders”) to which the elders belong and is responsible for ordinations (4:14). Whether the bishop belongs to the presbytery is not clear.
  5. The office of deacon (diakonos,“minister” or “servant”) appears to be assumed and may have to do primarily with social ministry, but the duties are not elaborated.

Church before Luther – East and West had bishops, elders (pastors, priests) and deacons.

  1. During the first century to the fourth, deacons had significant liturgical and administrative roles and served the poor. They were the eyes and ears of the early church, reporting needs to the bishop. The eucharist was a bridge between the liturgy and service beyond the Christian community. Ignatius wrote that deacons were to be respected because they represented Jesus Christ.
  2. Things changed when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Hierarchical structures diminished the diaconate, reducing their roles. Still they were called to interpret and meet needs within church and society. In Geneva in the mid-1540s, the hospital couldn’t handle all the welfare needs in the city primarily because of the many refugees who were seeking religious freedom. Impoverished foreigners were being expelled. A fund was established to help the refugees, administered by deacons.
  3. The diaconate was renewed in 19th-century Germany and came to the United States. Today deacons serve from Tanzania to Australia, from Jamaica to Brazil. A worldwide ecumenical diaconal movement is unstoppable, authorized and authenticated in Christ.


  1. In 1982, the Faith and Order Commission of the WCC published Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry (BEM). In the discussion of ministry was a call to revive the diaconate in order to better engage in mission in a changing world
  2. In 1993, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted a Statement on Ministry which recognized only one office: Pastor but allowed for “Lay Ministries” under terms like “Deaconess” and “Associates in Ministry” No rite of entry required.
  3. In 2016 Churchwide Assembly decisionthat authorized the creation of the roster of Ministers of Word and Service, called deacons, which merged three lay rosters into one. That assembly also endorsed consecration as the recommended entrance rite for an interim period.
  4. In an amendment to the “Constitutions, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,” the assembly voted to make ordination the entrance rite for ministers of Word and Service.


  1. Wikipedia: Ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart and elevated from the laity class to the clergy, who are thus then authorized to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination vary by religion and denomination.
  2. Luther’s theology of the cross is not a theory about Christ’s crucifixion-although it has implications for how we view the cross. It is instead, as he puts it, the revelatio Dei sub contrario specie, that is, the revelation of God under the appearance of the opposite or, as I prefer to put it, God revealed in the last place you or I would reasonably look). Thus, holding an office within the one body of Christ can never be a claim to power but a powerful claim to weakness, to service. This is not simply a “going through the motions” or “fulfilling certain functions” or “lording it over the laity” but rather a self-emptying and a laying down of one’s life. Service understood s dying for the other.
  3. Call from God, Discernment by the Church, call from an assembly.
  4. Conveyed by the laying on of hands.


Before almighty God, to whom you must give account, and in the presence of this assembly, I ask:
Will you assume this office, believing that the church’s call is God’s call to the ministry of word and sacrament (service)?

Each ordinand responds: I will, and I ask God to help me.

The church in which you are to be ordained confesses that the holy scriptures are the word of God and are the norm of its faith and life. We accept, teach, and confess the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creeds.We also acknowledge the Lutheran confessions as true witnesses and faithful expositions of the holy scriptures. Will you therefore preach and teach in accordance with the holy scriptures and these creeds and confessions?

Each ordinand responds: I will, and I ask God to help me.


Will you be diligent in your study of the holy scriptures and faithful in your use of the means of grace?  Will you pray for God’s people, nourish them with the word and sacraments, and lead them by your own example in faithful service and holy living?

Each ordinand responds: I will, and I ask God to help me.

Will you give faithful witness in the world, that God’s love may be known in all that you do?

Each ordinand responds: I will, and I ask God to help me.

Almighty God, who has given you the will to do these things, graciously give you the strength and compassion to perform them. 



Let it be acclaimed that  name  is a called and ordained minister in the church of Christ. She/he has Christ’s authority to preach the word of God and administer the sacraments, serving God’s people as together we bear God’s creative and redeeming love to all the world.

Amen. Thanks be to God. 


Let it be acclaimed that  name  is a called and ordained minister of word and service in the church of Christ. She/he has Christ’s authority to witness to the gospel and serve with boldness as together we bear God’s creative and redeeming love to all the world.

Thanks be to God.