This page contains questions (phrased anonymously) that have been submitted to church leadership about The Constitution and By-Laws of the Cornerstone Church of Poway, as well as the official responses.
Q: Women are eligible to be Deacons but not Elders, is there a Biblical reason for that?
A: Yes, the reason is Biblical. The primary passage on the selection of elders is Titus 1:5-9. It clearly indicates men, not just using the default masculine pronoun but mentioning the elders’ wives and drawing the parallel that such men are overseers of God’s household in the same way they lead their own household.
In contrast, the primary scripture on the selection of Deacons, 1 Timothy 3:1-13, specifically mentions women. Some argue this is in reference to the wives of deacons rather than women deacons. However, the matter is made clearer when a woman deacon is mentioned by name in Romans 16:1-2 “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae.”
The fact that women are mentioned in the deacons passage but not in the elders passage is pretty telling, as is the reference to elders as overseers of God’s “household.” It’s not just an assumption or oversight of patriarchal writers.
It’s worth noting that our old constitution included a division between male deacons and female “deaconesses” (a term that is not found in the Bible), and divided the roles in a way that we would think of as needlessly sexist today.
We wanted to make as much room for strong women to lead in the church as the Bible recommends/allows, and updated our constitution to reflect that. After all, the Bible gives us a number of strong women as examples: Deborah, Esther, Ruth, and of course Jesus’ own mother Mary! But we also have to honor that God made men and women different for a reason and gave us different roles to fulfill.
Q: Why are some words and phrases in the constitution capitalized while others aren’t?
A: All capitalized words and phrases are intentional and serve a purpose. They are either a) pronouns referring to God: He, Him, His, or b) important terms that are defined within the constitution: Vote of Confidence, Ministry, Lead Pastor. “Church,” for instance, always refers specifically to the Cornerstone Church of Poway and not to God’s worldwide “church.”