According to Overture 25 from Savannah River Presbytery, the existence of un-ordained diaconates in churches across the denomination needs to be examined.

The recommendation comes in response to last year’s study committee on Women Serving in the Ministry, which stated: “There is at least anecdotal evidence that some PCA churches are choosing not to establish an ordained diaconate, even with qualified candidates, because the church wishes to be free to establish a body of un-ordained servants, both male and female.”

The latter refers to Book of Church Order 9-7 which includes a provision that allows for such assistants to deacons. “When you’re thinking about the health of the church, it’s not good to have uncertainty about what may or may not be happening,” says Teaching Elder Geoff Gleason of Cliffwood Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia. 

The overture proposes that presbyteries require all congregations within their bounds without an active ordained diaconate to report their reasons for this and whether or not they have created an un-ordained body of servants. The recommendation is that a summary of these findings be presented before the 47th General Assembly in 2019. “This,” says Gleason, “will hopefully get us beyond anecdotal rumors to confirmation of fact.”