Thursday, August 4, 2011

The ACiNA's New Ordinal

Well, I'm not always up to date, but recently the Anglican Church in North America has approved their new ordinal.  It was actually approved on June 24.  Sorry I didn't catch this earlier!  (I personally find this to be timely, none-the-less, given a couple of posts that I have in the works and will hopefully have out soon.  It is also timely in that I have had the opportunity this summer to attend ordination services for three Wesleyan/Methodist denominations, viz., the United Methodist Church, the Church of the Nazarene, and The Wesleyan Church.)

The article related to the approval of this new ordinal can be found, here.  A PDF copy of the ordinal, itself, can be viewed, here.

Those who have been waiting for a new Book of Common Prayer for the newly formed (still forming?) denomination will have to wait a bit longer.  However, I'm sure they will find the ordinal to be of interest.

I know that many have been waiting to see how the new ordinal will deal with women's orders.  What kind of language will they use?  This has been of special concern for some of my friends in the Reformed Episcopal Church.  The following information, printed in "General Information and Notes . . ." is telling:

"Throughout the entire ordinal, language referring to the number of ordinands (he/them) has been placed in italics. This is to aid the presider in shifting plural language to singular, and singular to plural. This is also the case when referring to the gender of the ordinand (in the liturgies for the ordination of Deacons and Priests)."

Indeed, the singular masculine has been used in italics, throughout.  -  REC folks will be happy about that, but not so happy about the above quoted note.

This issue of women's orders is (as I understand it from some of my REC friends) a major issue that could determine whether the ACiNA will be able to hold together as a cohesive group.

In fact, the idea that the Archbishop presented in his recent address to the new denomination (viz., that members now think of themselves as ACiNA first and whatever originating group second) seems to me to be wishful thinking.  The fact that the REC, for example, continues to identify itself as the Reformed Episcopal Church and continues to elect a presiding bishop seems to imply that they still view themselves as REC first and ACiNA second.

How does an REC priest view things?  They have their own bishop, then the presiding bishop of the REC, and then the Archbishop of the ACiNA.  And how do the REC bishops view matters (and how are they viewed by others)?  They are all a part of the ACiNA bishops; equal with each other, but then there is their own presiding bishop.

Anyway, this post was supposed to simply report the new ordinal.  I confess that this latter stuff comes from an idea for a post that I was wanting to write, but never got around to writing.  -  Still any REC comments would be quite welcome!

Hope you enjoy the ordinal!


D. Straw said...

Pastor Todd: As both an ordained clergyman in the REC and the ACNA I agree that there are some problems here. I would equate it with how Americans used to view themselves as "Virginians first and Americans second." I can tell you for certain that every REC Bishop wants the ACNA to grow and believes that the identity of the REC should diminish over time and that the identity of the ACNA should grow. However, the issue of women's ordination into the priesthood is a HUGE stumbling block to this happening. It is a stumbling block on more than one level. On one level there are theological concerns regarding the validity of women being ordained priests (whch every single member that I know in the REC clergy is opposed to) and then there is the issue in the ACNA which bothers me the most... Even pro-women's ordination forces will admit that a majority in the ACNA want women's ordination done away with. Yet, we are all being held hostage by a minority within the ACNA. This all strikes many of us as being a little too much like TEc. A vocal minority gets its way until it becomes so institutionalized it cannot be done away with. In fact, the AMiA I am pretty sure has this same problem. They still have ways to ordain women into the priesthood and have bishops who are in favor of WO. There seems to be an unwillingness to tackle this tough issue and just say "the majority is going to rule on this one." In Christ's Service, David+

WHS said...

In reference to David's+ comment: How does REC feel about women permanent deacons?


William Shontz+ (AMiA)

Todd Stepp said...


Good to hear from you! I hoped you would post a comment.

Am I right, then, that the issue of women's orders is the issue that must be settled before the REC will truly identify as ACNA?

There are two things that I had thought would be a good sign that such was actually taking place (and that the Archbishop's statement was acurate).

The first would be a shift in title/language away from RE Church to something like the Communion of RE Dioceses. - It seems to me that as long as "Church" remains in the name, it is a clear sign that the formation of the ACNA is not a done deal.

The second would be a doing away with the position of presiding bishop of the REC. Perhaps, in keeping with the idea of a Communion of RE Dioceses, there could be elected from and by the RE bishops a "president" or "chair" or something of that counsel of bishops for organizational and connectional purposes as a step toward simply being ACNA, but eventually there would be no need for even this position.

It seems to me that as long as the REC continues to elect a presiding bishop, it is a clear sign (once again) that the formation of the ACNA is not a done deal.

It seems to me that such steps could be taken by the REC, even while waiting for the women's orders settlement. So, I was disappointed that the recent REC meeting did not take either of these steps or some sort of steps like these. That may indicate that they just don't think the women's orders issue will be settled to their satisfaction.

Whatever the case, it does make outsiders think that the ACNA is still a group of federated, but yet separate, denominations, rather than one new denomination.

Would love to hear your thoughts!


Eric + said...

Fr. Straw,

As one who is neither Reformed nor Anglican (but rather Wesleyan & Nazarene) who values the inclusion of women in every level of ordained ministry and church leadership, could you tease out for me the "theological concerns regarding the validity of women being ordained priests?"

I am not wishing to be critical or offensive, only to understand the theological viewpoint of many in the church catholic, including many in the CotN.


Todd Stepp said...

To clarify, I understand you, Eric+, to be asking David+ to talk about the theological rationale concerning why women should NOT be in holy orders.

I have heard a number of reason for this position, and I hope that David+ shares some of them with us from the REC perspective.

As Wesleyan/Methodist Christians, and especially as Wesleyan-holiness Christians, our reasons for ordaining women has nothing to do with the liberalizing views that some of the mainline folks have put forward for ordaining women.

Wesleyan Christians were the first (in modern times!) to ordain women, and Nazarenes were ordaining women since (before!) the founding of our denomination. We do so on scriptural grounds, as well as the recognition of the ministry of the Holy Spirit (gifts & graces) in those women who have been called to such ministry. Which is to say, we truly believe that it is a mark of apostolicity to ordain both men and women called to such ministry.

Interestingly, though, part of our scriptural basis is focused on preaching, while some (including Wesley) made a big distinction between the role of preaching and that of presiding at the Table.

Looking forward to hearing more from David+ (and others!).


D. Straw said...

I'm going to do my best to answer these questions. First, I want to say that I firmly believe that the REC are the “good guys” here. They have more reason than anyone to not be part of the ACNA. The REC has a 138 year history. We have our own seminaries and our own publishing house. We have an identity that is more ingrained and older than any of the Continuing Anglican groups or the AMiA and yet we are willing to sacrifice more than these other groups by trying to still integrate into the ACNA...All while taking huge amounts of criticism from within our own ranks and from others outside the REC because we will not budge on certain issues that we have from the very formation of the ACNA said we wouldn't budge on. I have spoken to four ACNA Bishops (not all REC) and all four have said things like, "If a vote on women's ordination (into the priesthood) was held right now it would be done away with." However, they quickly add that "No one wants to blow this thing apart and pro women's ordination groups would walk if we can't come up with some sort of compromise at least in transition." So, as I pointed out the entire ACNA is being held hostage by a minority. On another note...I want to point out the REC does see itself as part of the ACNA. It sees itself as a "sub province" or others might use the words "Affinity Network"…Which our AMiA friends surely will understand. There are limits to what the REC can and will give on. It will not (again…As the REC has always said) not dismantle it’s infrastructure until WO’s is dealt with. I would like to point out that the REC has gladly given up some it’s parish and clergy (including a bishop) to more regionally based dioceses of the ACNA. When is the last time any of the Continuing Anglican groups or the AMiA has done anything like encouraging people to leave if they felt it was best for their ministry or congregations in order to support the dream of a North American Anglican Province that is the ACNA? I will deal with the WO issues in another post later.

D. Straw said...

I write a blog entry about Women's Ordination years ago. I am not going to try to say this is the view of the REC. I would think that the REC's view in general tends of Women's Ordination into the priesthood is that it "simply does not fall within the bounds of Church Tradtion." Thus, it is seen as being invalid. Todd+ is correct that I do perceive a difference between women preaching and women serving at the altar in regards to communion. Here is my blog entry of several years back....

Todd Stepp said...

Thanks, David+ for your post, and I look forward to your next one on WO.

It was not my intent in anything that I have said to imply that the REC is not among the "good guys," so I hope that you have not taken it that way.

I have tried to understand the continued use of the term "Church" along with the continued office of presiding bishop in connection to the ACNA. - You have clarified that for me in your statement that the REC will not dismantle its infrastructure until the issue of WO is dealt with.

I think it good that you have pointed out the history of the REC over against others in the ACNA and clarified a bit more about the relationship of the REC to the larger ACNA.

Also, as indicated above, I do look forward to your comments on WO. - While Wesleyan Christians differ with the REC (some other Anglicans, the RCC, the Orthodox folks and some others) concerning women's orders, the questions here (on this blog) are not intended to be confrontational, but rather in order to gain understanding.

As I have indicated, I have heard some of these reasons for rejecting WO, but would like to hear someone from that camp comment.

I will also say that I think that one of the strongest arguments against the ordinations (of women) that took place within the Wesleyan-holiness camp is not only a lack of agreement with others in the larger Church, but the fact that W/H folks were acting completely on their own. - I think wisdom may have said that those Scriptural and apostolic arguments, along with the gifts and graces arguments should have been presented in the larger arena of the Church before acting on them.

Again, that is not an argument against women's orders (I'll leave that to you, David+). Rather it is a suggestion that important steps could (should) have been taken, first.


Todd Stepp said...

Thanks, David+ for the blog post (which appeared while I was writing my last comment!). - Why re-write stuff, when you have already written it elsewhere!

Yeah, I think that the difference between preaching and presiding would have been a good discussion point, had this conversation taken place back when Wesleyan-holiness folks first began ordaining. - Not saying it would have brought about a different decission, but it would have been good to have had the conversation.


D. Straw said...

Todd+: I consider you a good friend...If I thought these posts were truly confrontational I would just ignore them rather than argue with you ;-). I truly feel these posts are just a way for those just outside the Anglican Church to wrestle with some difficult issues that even confuse those within Anglicanism many times.

D. Straw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric + said...

Thanks Fr. Straw for taking time to point us to your thoughts. I will be reading them soon.



D. Straw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D. Straw said...

Oh...The term..."argue" was meant to be tongue in cheek....

Also, I'm attempting to write these posts with a blasting headache while getting ready to preach this afternoon.

Please...Someone say a prayer that this headache goes away before I preach this afternoon. I am looking back at some of what I have written here and I hope the adjustments I have tried to do last minute to my sermon make more sense. :)

Thomas said...

The challenge was posed to Rev. Straw that he should present the reasons *against* women’s ordination. I read Rev. Straw’s blog post and it was a very good presentation. I whole-heartedly agree. But I think it would be helpful (and fair) for someone here to present the reasons *in favor* of women’s ordination. THAT is where the burden of proof truly lies. That is the point of departure from 2000 years of Church Tradition.
As a Roman Catholic who is interested in ecumenism, this discussion fascinates me. Although I do feel like an outsider looking in...and for that reason, I'll limit my comments to what I know, from where I stand. And so, from my point of view, I’m not sure where this kind of church merger is supposed to lead us in the long term...
From a Catholic perspective, women’s ordination is a settled matter. In his 1994 Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Pope John Paul II wrote, “Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.”
Given this pronouncement, it is obvious that the Roman Catholic Church will never budge on the issue of women’s ordination. As the above papal statement implies, anyone who wishes to join with the Catholic Church (and I think Todd is right in pointing out the use of the term “Church” in its strict sense) - anyone who wishes to join with the Catholic *Church* would be bound to accept this teaching on ordination as “definitively held by all the Church's faithful.”
If we are going to use that term “Church” (and mean it), and if we truly want to work toward Christian unity as one “CHURCH,” then merger must have a real and binding power among the faithful. To merge into one “Church” must mean that a common faith is professed.
The above passage I quoted says that ordination “pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself.” That’s not something we can just tinker with, nor can we simply gloss over such a doctrinal dispute. As a Catholic, I am bound by that. Such doctrinal clarity makes a Church united as one.
What binds the faithful in this merger? Are they bound by anything? Can this really be called a "Church"?
Women’s ordination marked the beginning of the end of ecumenical dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church. There is no way to overcome this doctrinal dispute unless one group is willing to give up its teaching. The Eastern Orthodox Churches are in agreement with the Roman Church on this point. So the two oldest Communions within Christendom find it impossible to get beyond this doctrinal roadblock when dialoguing with certain Reformed Churches. How do we compromise on this? Are we supposed to compromise on homosexual ordination and marriage as well? Are we supposed to give up on one of these points so that we can hold onto something else? Is church merger all about swapping doctrines until everybody is happy? Do we just agree to disagree and call ourselves a "Church" anyway? I guess I am rather confused. These types of mergers seem to deconstruct Traditional Christianity in favor of constructing a new denomination that is in "name" only.
(Todd, you knew it was only a matter of time before you heard from me again :) )

Todd Stepp said...

Thomas, who let you back in, here?! :0)

Really, this issue is but an extension of the actual blog post, and I did not really intend to argue for or against women in holy orders. - And, like David+, I am supposed to be trying to get ready to preach (and teach and preside) tomorrow. - So, this is not going to be a real arguement for women in holy orders. And I will leave off sitations and specifics. Rather, look at it as a signpost or a taste or an idea of where the position comes from.

First, understand that Wesleyan's (at least from the holiness wing) have viewed preaching to be a major issue for ordination. So, if women are shown (from Scriptrue)to be "preachers" they are candidates for orders.

There are women in the OT identified as as prophets, speaking forth the Word of the Lord to the people of God, both men and women. The mark of the Spirit baptized Church on Pentecost (as promised through the prophet Joel) is that both sons and daughters will prophesy (proclaim/preach God's word with authority and anointing of the Holy Spirit).

Likewise, if they can be shown to be leaders, they are candidates for holy orders.

We have the case of the OT womn who was apointed by God as judge/ruler over Israel (men and women). In the NT, Paul identifies women as coworkers and leaders in the Church. I would say, a quick look at Romans, 16, is a good example.

There we find Phoebe, a deacon of the Church, about whom Origen commented, "This passage teaches that there were women ordained in the church's ministry by the apostle's authority . . . Not only that - they ought to be ordained . . ." - Chrysostom, too, recognizes her status. Constantius (in commenting on this passage) speaks of the apostle demonstrating that no discrimination or preference between male and female is to be tolerated.

Priscilla (Prisca) is said to have instructed Apollos. Theodoret of Cyr speaks of Prisca preaching the gospel.

Junia is identified as an apostle. Even Chrysostom identifies her as such. Etc.

If, women are shown to be "raised" to the status of men in the faith, they may be cadidates for holy orders.

Pentecost does such. There is no longer male nor female in Christ Jesus, etc.

If women testify to a call by God to ordained ministry AND show evidence of such call by gifts and graces, they may be considered candidates for holy orders. Such seems to be the way the apostles (Acts) recognized the movement and leading of the Holy Spirit.

Godly women have testified to such a call and have demonstrated such gifts and graces, and God has blessed their ministry.

Plus, there has been some good scholarship showing evidence of women presiding (I believe) at the sacrament in the early centuries of the Church.

Again, this is not meant to be a detailed theological argument, as such. Don't have the time for that. But it should give you an idea of where those who argue for women's orders are coming from.

Hope it helps!


Eric + said...

And I would add, Todd, that all of your discussion is rooted in a reading of creation where the imago Dei is given to male and female. As such, ordination moves beyond a mere icon of Christ, to a far deeper and more signigicant icon of the very heart of God in whose image both genders are created. So the argument is rooted in an antropological understanding of all persons bearing the image of God, continuing through the OT episodes Todd disussed, through the teaching of Christ in whom there is no male or female, jew or greek, slave or free (if we take our baptism seriously we all ought to agree with at least this much), and all the way up through the early church which (as evidenced in scripture and the Fathers) contained both female deacons and at least one female apostle.

Thomas is exactly right. The "burden of proof" is always on those who separate from Tradition. But at the same time, Tradition is but one leg of belief along with Scripture, reason and for some, experience.

Since I am the one who asked the original question, I want to be clear I was NOT demanding proof, or seeking to further in any way the divide within Christianity. I really, truly was only seeking to understand the position of the majority of Christianity on this issue since I am the one standing outside it.


WHS said...

Again, I would ask about women in the permanent diaconate. This would fit with the distinction raised here between preaching and presiding. How might the REC (and, admittedly, the majority of the jurisdictions in ACNA)fall on this? And I cannot help but ask, if the pro-WO minority in ACNA were to "walk"--where would they walk to?

William Shontz+ (AMiA)

D. Straw said...

My personal opinion is that I could live within a framework that allowed women as permanent deacons.In our modern world things get on such slippery slopes so very quickly I would say this would be the best option:
A Deaconess is a woman who has been called to lay ministry in the Church. She has been educated and trained to fulfill the duties of her vocation. She has dedicated herself to lifelong service in the Church and has been Set Apart to the Office of Deaconess by the solemn laying-on of hands by the Bishop.

This is how we handle things in the REC and seems to work well. In fact, the Diocese of Quincy is beginning to adopt this practice as well.

If the ACNA broke-up over this issue I simply see it being split into two camps. My real fear though is that it might not stop there. It might just continue splintering and become like the Anglican Continuum... Which was not successful after decades of existence to create a structure where Anglicans could flee to after the Episcopal Church did implode.

Thomas said...

I appreciate the response…
I understand that you are not trying to start a debate about women’s ordination, but I would point out that there are other passages in the New Testament which imply that women are called to a different kind of ministry within the Church than that to which men are called. For instance, Paul says that “women are to remain silent in the churches.” (1 Corinthians 14:33-35) The ministry of public preaching does not seem to fit with this clear command from Scripture. Any instruction (or prophesying or leadership) a woman might provide to her fellow Christians must be apart from the formal/public ministry (the ordained priesthood) within the Church. If it really were common practice to have female preachers in the New Testament Church (as you seem to say), then why does Paul speak out against it?
I would also suggest that the term “deacon” was used rather loosely in New Testament times. This terminology was not yet fixed in the First Century. (This is true also of the presbyterate and the episcopate.) So to say that women served as “deacons” in the early Church is a bit misleading since the exact understanding of “ordination” and the “diaconate” had not yet been solidified. If you trace the development of the diaconate you will see that it is *male only* when referring to *sacramental ordination.* Also 1 Timothy 3:8-13 describes the qualifications of a deacon and he refers specifically to a “man” fulfilling this role.
So in the end, the New Testament is rather unclear about what a “deacon” is (this is a part of later development), but it is very clear that women should not preach in Church.
Having said that… My main point is that women’s ordination is clearly a break with Tradition. Whatever the role of women in the historical Church, it was never one of public, hierarchical ministry (or priesthood) until very recently, and then only in certain denominations. So when I hear about denominations that struggle with this issue, and they try to make room for differing opinions in the hope of greater Christian unity, I am left puzzled. By allowing women’s ordination, they actually take a step away from traditional, biblical Christian teaching and in the long run that does not unify Christians, it only separates us further.
(Note: I see that Rev. Straw mentions deaconesses as “lay women” called to a particular ministry in the church. I just want to clarify that when I say “deacon” I mean an ordained member of the clergy, one who receives Holy Orders – not a layman. Certainly lay men and women can serve the Church as brothers and sister (nuns) if they feel so called. But the “diaconate” is a part of the priestly vocation from my perspective.)

Thomas said...

To bring this back to where your discussion started… Your original post questions the role of “bishops” within this denominational merger – can the merger hold together when there seems to be overlapping episcopacies? And what do we mean by “church” – does this merger constitute a new “church” or do the parties involved retain their identity as individual “churches” within a loose confederation?
The immediate response from Rev. Straw was that women’s ordination is a major sticking point for any type of forward progress. From my perspective, having studied Roman Catholic sources on the issue of ecumenism, women’s ordination is an insurmountable obstacle to any kind of reunification on a large scale.
So I ask myself: where does this merger take us in the big picture? It seems that Anglicans/Episcopalians paint themselves in a corner on the issue of women’s ordination. These groups are on a trajectory that is sending them further and further away from traditional Christian teaching. And this only serves to alienate further the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics (as well as other tradition-minded groups). So is this a merger that helps Christian unity in the long run? Obviously, I don’t have a dog in this fight, per se (I am not Anglican/Episcopalian), but I do want to see Christians of all sorts coming closer together. So as I look long-term at this fight over women priests, and I guess I just see you as drifting further away from us, while you may be closing the gap amongst yourselves. You seem to be uniting into a mega-denomination that has cut itself off from where we stand.

(Come on, Todd! You knew you couldn't get rid of me!)

Robin G. Jordan said...

The new modern language version of the 2003 REC Ordinal is much closer to the classical Anglican ordinal than the new ACNA Ordinal. It corrects a major defect of the 1928 Ordinal--the question concerning the Bible in the Examination in the ordination service for deacons. Unfortunately a rubric in the ordination service for deacons restores the pre-Reformation Medieval Catholic/ post-Tridentian Roman Catholic ceremony of vesting the new deacon in a stole, a prctice that the classical Anglican Ordinal dropped.

The new ACNA Ordinal may be characterized as "liberal Catholic." It takes the liberal position of the 1928 Ordinal on the Bible and the liberal position of the 1979 Ordinal on women's ordination. At the same time it introduces pre-Reformation Medieval Catholic/post-Tridentian Roman Catholic ceremonies and ornaments into the Ordinal, and in doing so endorses the doctrines and practices of pre-Reformation Medieval Catholic and post-Tridentian Roman Catholic Churches tied to these ceremonies and ornaments and rejected by the reformed Church of England and historic Anglicanism. It also makes significant additions and alteration to the historic Preface to the classical Anglican Ordinal and other changes that affect the doctrine of the ordinal and the doctrine of the ohurch. I have posted a series of articles on Anglicans Ablaze. The latest is "A Fork in the Road: A Plea for a Biblically Faithful Ordinal." To read it, go to:

The other articles in the series are listed after this article with links to them.

Todd Stepp said...


Thanks for your comments and your link!

I'm going to reference this and point folks to it on the Wesleyan/Anglican Facebook group page. - I'm sure that some there will agree with your perspective (i.e., your positions), while others may not. However, i think that your post will be thought provoking and may promote some dialogue from folks with various perspectives.

BTW, you are invited to join the Wesleyan/Anglican Facebook group! - There have been recent discussions concerning various versions of the BCP, that you might want to chime in on.

Your Brother in Christ,


Daniel McLain Hixon said...

If I may post a follow up to this fascinating discussion: I see that the quote from John Paul II (on women's ordination) only mentions the priesthood. I have heard that Orthodox Bishop Kalistos/Timothy Ware has publically said that ordaining women to the diaconate "might" be possible. I wonder if there is room for a compromise there?

Compromise seems to be the ACNA position: we won't make you ordain women (like some Anglican groups) nor will we forbid it, except we do forbit women bishops. All that is, I believe, in the constitution. If someone can live with that compromise for the sake of unity, I don't see why they would keep on discussing it?

But one argument (from the Bible) in favor of Women's Ordination was made by Anglican Bishop NT Wright and can be found here:
He says baiscally we need to read the 1 Tim and 1 Cor passage in context (for example, if 1 Cor. 14 really intends women should never speak in church, why does 1 Cor 11 give instructions on how they should dress when they do so?) and keep in mind that other passages of the Bible do clearly mention women church leaders in what came to be the ordained roles. But as you all know, there are good arguments the other way as well.

I blogged a while back on W/O and Christian Unity here:

Daniel McLain Hixon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel McLain Hixon said...

Thomas said...

Mr. Daniel Hixon...

First I would say that 1 Corinthians 11 may or may not refer to “in church” dress for women preachers. The passage mentions how women ought to dress when “prophesying” – but there is not a part of the Christian liturgical service that is set aside for “prophesying,” so I think we could read this as an extra-liturgical, (i.e. non-priestly) function. It does not mean that women were ordained. Otherwise it would certainly conflict with Paul’s other instruction for women to remain silent in church. In order for both commands to make sense there must be some distinction made. And I think the idea of a male-only ordained clergy makes sense here.

The quote from John Paul II does not mention the diaconate specifically but it is implied when one considers a full understanding of priestly “ordination” – the three levels of ordination being deacon, priest, and bishop. The bishop has the fullness of the Sacrament because only he can perform all of the Sacramental functions and has full authority over his particular diocese. The priests and deacons share in the bishop’s ministry and receive the Sacrament of Ordination to fulfill the priestly functions associated with their offices. To change the diaconate to include women would necessarily alter our understanding of Holy Orders itself. It is not a simple matter, as you seem to imply; we cannot just compromise on our understanding of the Sacraments.

I would disagree with your implication that women ministers ever held any form of "ordination" strictly speaking. Certainly there was often confusion over the term deacon (and other terms) in the early centuries of Christianity. Some women were called “deacons” without any clarification of what that meant. Sometimes the roles of women blended with those of their male counterparts. As the Church grappled with its understanding of ordination and ministry, these things had to be sorted out. But the question of female diaconate was addressed as early as the Council of Nicea, which stated: “Likewise in the case of their deaconesses, and generally in the case of those who have been enrolled among their clergy, let the same form be observed. And we mean by deaconesses such as have assumed the habit, but who, since they have no imposition of hands, are to be numbered only among the laity.”

This link gives a more complete explanation: