Wittingly or unwittingly, this alternative practice creates a new quasi-office or serves as a sort of “ecclesial disobedience” protest against the existing BCO provisions. The effect of not ordaining deacons (if allowed) will, in effect, change the meaning and undermine the authority of the BCO by ignoring or contravening it rather than using the difficult and slow (but honest) constitutional process.
Dozens of congregations of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) communicate to the church and to the world that ordination is not essential to the holding of church office or to bearing the titles thereof. The two-office polity of the PCA is simple and clear; its on-the-ground manifestation is too often confused and confusing.
The confusion is apparent in at least two ways. First, dozens of PCA churches list, portray, or refer to women as deacons (not the sexed, informal term deaconess) or as members of the diaconate (see one church’s explanation above). The problem here is that every reference in the denomination’s Book of Church Order (BCO) to deacons refers to the ordained office, and ordained office in the PCA is limited to men. Furthermore, the diaconate is only mentioned in conjunction with the session of ordained elders. Saying there are unordained members of the diaconate (deacons) would seem to imply that there could be unordained members of the session (elders), and that could never be. Or could it?
At least one church in the PCA has a female “pastor” (see image below). Or we could also put it like this: One PCA church “has” a female pastor, since you can’t actually have an impossibility — pastors are ordained and no one in the PCA ordains women. But, apparently, a PCA church can assign the title of pastor to someone who is not and cannot be a pastor.
Ordination matters, according to the church in every age and to the PCA’s Form of Government (Part I of the BCO). Focusing on ordination reminds us that the issue is not ultimately about the sex of the officeholder. And ordination is an inescapable factor in Presbyterian polity. In the instance of the female “pastor” cited above, the fact that she is called a “Pastor to Women” is quite beside the point. The use of “Pastor” (whether of youth, music, administration, or outreach) is inappropriate for any unordained person. Non-ecclesial titles like “Director” or “Coordinator” have typically been used by PCA churches for unordained staff, whether male or female. Curiously, the “Pastor to Women” was referred to as “Director” several years ago, but now is called “Pastor.”
Titles seem to matter even more in these credentialistic days. They obviously matter to the givers of the titles and to those who receive them. Otherwise, why go to all the trouble? But does the actual meaning and definition of the title matter in an ecclesial-denominational context? Postmodern deconstruction questions the meaning of words (and titles are words) but also the meaning and understanding of texts — even of a text so dry and technical as the BCO. Postmodern deconstruction tries to find the meaning behind the glossary definition or might dwell on what a word or phrase should or could mean using critical methods.
 In noting that the PCA office of deacon is limited to men, we do not denigrate other denominations (e.g., the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church [ARP] or the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America [RPCNA]) that explicitly allow and make provisions for females in the office of deacon.
 This folder contains links and screenshots concerning the PCA church that gives the title of pastor to a female. This folder gives a small sampling of the range of iterations of diaconates in the PCA. The data is from freely accessible public websites. No attempt has been made to contact the churches for explanations of these practices. It is assumed that the public-facing websites, videos, and documents of local churches express their actual practices and convictions. No offenses are alleged: it is for presbyteries and the PCA General Assembly to determine if churches are deviating from denominational standards of polity.