THE OFFICE OF AN ELDER
What Is An Elder?
to the usual dictionary meaning of the word “elder”, age has relatively little
to do with the qualifications of an elder in the Presbyterian Church. Whether
one be a young person seeing visions or an older person dreaming dreams (Acts
2:17), if they believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, if they believe
in Jesus Christ as the living Word of God, and if they are willing to be guided
by the Confessions of our Church as containing the system of doctrine taught in
the Holy Scriptures, they qualify so far as personal beliefs are concerned.
faith alone is not enough. Intimately related to that faith must be one’s
character since the life of a believer speaks far more convincingly than
his/her words. But perfection is not required. If it were, the Church would be
required to function without elders, just as Christ would have had to minister
without the help of such imperfect men as Judas, Peter, Thomas, James and John.
then must candidates be? They must be, first of all, committed Christians. They
must also be willing to work as members of a team, willing to subvert their own
self-assertion and unbending insistence upon personal opinion to the community
of spirit-filled people charged with the responsibility of guiding the
spiritual affairs of the church. They must be willing to assume their share of
the work of the church by accepting and fulfilling committee assignments both
in the local church and at other denominational levels.
What Does An Elder Do?
X of the Form of Government in the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.) lays out in very complete fashion the task to which the elders are
called. In summary, it can be said that the Session (made up of elected Elders)
is charged with the spiritual oversight and the complete affairs of the
congregation, its organizations and associations, and any groups affiliated
How Is It Done?
Session meets in regularly stated monthly meetings and additional times when
special meetings are called. The meetings generally take less than two hours
and elders are urged to give these meetings a top priority in their schedules.
addition to the regular monthly meeting, every elder is assigned to serve on a
committee. In order to do the work that is delegated to the Session, it is
organized into committees. Each elder must be prepared to devote additional
time each month to work on his/her committee assignment. The five committees of
the Session are:
Education Worship and Sacraments Property
Membership Stewardship and Finances
backbone of the work of the Session is its committees. Well functioning
committees mean less time on the floor of the session meeting and provides the
other elders with an opportunity to act in a wiser fashion more quickly.
responsibility of an elder is in the session’s relationship with the
presbytery. Our London Church is represented at every meeting of the presbytery
by at least one elder and our pastor. Each elder is urged to attend at least
one presbytery meeting each year.