Nominations are Open for The Role of Elder through December 10, 2023.
Summary Of The Role Of Elder
The word ‘overseer’ or ‘elder’ has the meaning of being responsible for all the ministries and governance. They must be “able to teach” and “shepherd God’s flock”. Although elected representatives, Elders do not primarily act on behalf of constituencies in the church. Rather, they primarily act in accord with how God is leading. They are keepers of the mission. Some specific duties are below.
- guard against corruption of doctrine or morals in the congregation and exercise discipline
- visit the people at their homes, especially the sick
- instruct the ignorant, comfort the mourner, nourish and guard the children of the Church
- set a worthy example by their zeal to evangelize the unconverted and make disciples
- pray with and for people
The Process for Becoming an Elder
- Members may nominate men for this training by submitting their name in writing to Andrew Conrad, Brian Fletcher or any of the current Ruling Elders.
- Nominees that accept will go through an 11-month training course.
- After training they will be examined by the Session and those men eligible for being ordained to the office of Elder will stand for election by the congregation.
Summary Of The Role Of Deacon
The word ‘deacon’ comes from the Greek word ‘diakonos’ which has the basic meaning of table servant, and could be used in other terms of service also including that of a royal official. Every Christian should serve and minister to others, while some are appointed to use those gifts in a more formally recognized way (Acts 6:2-3; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8-13). Deacons may not have the ability to teach the scripture, but they must “keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Timothy 3:9). Deacons originate in Acts 6 because the apostles could not do it all and especially because ministry to the poor Greek widows was being overlooked while the Hebrew widows were taken care of. So they chose 7 men (all Greeks) to carry on the ministry ensuring the Greek widows were not neglected. They enjoy serving others meeting both the physical and spiritual needs of people. In the discharge of their duties they are under the supervision of the Elders and assist them with duties such as those below.
- helping the widow and orphan, serving the poor and needy, minister to those in need, to the sick, to the friendless, and to any who may be in distress
- develop the grace of generosity in the church to give financially in support of it
- devise effective methods of collecting the gifts of the people and distribute these gifts
- serve on the finance committee to make budget recommendations
- maintaining the real and personal property of the church, keeping things in good shape
Summary Of The Role Of Deaconess
By example in Acts 6 and by instruction in 1 Timothy 3, we believe the Bible teaches that ordination to an office in the church is only for men. Yet, the Bible also gives plenty of examples of women serving in formal roles as prophets, advisors, and deaconing. In Romans 16:1-2, Phoebe is cited by Paul as a ‘deacon’ of the church in Cenchrea with some specific duties, and he commends her to be received by the church in Rome for her service. Paul is giving formal recognition to her. So she was serving in some recognized capacity, though it appears not to have been as one ordained to the office of deacon. Additionally, 1 Timothy 3 lays out qualifications for the Office of Elder and Deacon. While the text is a difficult one, it is clear that Paul restricts authority to men (1 Timothy 2:12-13) as part of the created order. However, in 1 Tim 3:8-13, he also includes qualifications for either women or wives of deacons. So even though he may not include women as officers he does include women in a role of helping, serving, and deaconing. (For a more detailed biblical understanding please listen to the sermon series Pastor Conrad preached on June 5th, 12th, and 19th in 2022.)
Our church, the Presbyterian Church in America, holds to this understanding of the text (see above) that women are not ordained to office, but that women are very valuable and gifted and as such are formally recognized by being appointed by the Elders to assist the ministry of the church (Book of Church Order 9-7). In this way, there is a formal recognition of gifts and service.
Our deaconesses will be commissioned for this work and will assist the deacons and the elders with mercy cases, especially when involving women and children, shepherding women and counseling with couples, discipline cases involving women, visiting women who are sick, and helping care for widows. It is also worth noting that women serve and lead in many ways other than deaconess. Consider this sampling of just some of the ways women are doing vital ministry for our church.
- Ministry Team Leaders for Women’s Ministry, Mothers of Young Children, Nursery, Hospitality Team, and Welcome Team
- Leaders of Bible studies, Worship Teams, Community Groups, Youth Group and teach Sunday School for all ages
- Serving on and/or leading our Missions Committee, Personnel Committee, Finance Committee, Search Committees for staff hiring, Ushering Team, Hospitality Team, Welcome Team
The Process for Becoming a Deacon and Deaconess
- Members may nominate men or women for this training by submitting their name in writing before December 10th to Andrew Conrad, Brian Fletcher or any of the current Ruling Elders.
- Nominees that accept will go through a 4-month training course.
- After training they will be examined by the Session and those men eligible for being ordained to the office of Deacon will stand for election by the congregation. Those women eligible for being commissioned as Deaconesses will be appointed by the Session.
If you have questions, please contact Pastor Andrew at the church office: (804) 412-8112.