Diakonia in the witness of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria
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Diaconal ministries and offices are as important as other ministries in the church.
However, in the witness of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria diaconal ministries have been undermined and marginalized. Consequently, more attention has been given to pastoral and evangelistic ministries and administration. As a result, most of the people who were trained and designated as deacons by the church, out of frustration, have been further trained and been ordained as pastors setting aside their roles in diaconal ministries in order to enhance their status. Therefore, the office of deacons is seen by many as a stepping stone to the ordained ministry.
There are sociological, ecclesiological and theological reasons for undermining diakonia in the witness of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria. The sociological reasons among others include limited resources, status oriented culture and extended family system. Ecclesiologically, deacons are excluded from the church's polity. Furthermore, the Refonned emphasis on preaching and right administration of the sacraments as the marks of the church tends to elevate the status of those in the pastoral ministry over and above those in other ministries. Theologically, there seem to be a greater emphasis on the salvation of souls and going to heaven than service to neighbor and fighting against unjust structures, systems and practices that limit people's experience of righteousness, peace and joy which are signs of the kingdom. Therefore, the need for a creation and a kingdom focused approach to theology cannot be overemphasized.
Chapter one examines the biblical basis for diakonia. Some relevant Old and New Testament texts and themes are considered in this chapter. Chapter two deals with historical developments in diakonia and diakonia today. Chapter three focuses on diakonia in the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria. Diakonia is traced historically in the witness of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria in this chapter and also the sociological, ecclesiological and theological factors that affect it are considered. In chapter four some recommendations are made which I believe will enhance and strengthen the practice of diakonia in the witness of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria.