Some Orthodox Christians today are trying to re-institute the ancient Church order of “deaconesses,” despite the uneven history of that female office in the Church, as well as that of the male diaconate. Protodeacon Patrick Mitchell surveys the Church’s early experience of both male and female “deacons” and concludes that they were never the same order, that the female order was inherently problematic for the Church because it appeared to elevate women over men, and that the “ordination” of women as deaconesses made less and less sense as the Church’s understanding of holy orders evolved. That explains why much of the Orthodox Church never had deaconesses, and why even those segments of the Church in antiquity and in the Byzantine era where they did serve eventually abandoned the order.