When Presbyterians do church together, we shy away from individual leaders, even Pastors, having too much power. We’ve seen what one unchecked leader can do. We also shy away from giving the people at large too much power. We remember how the crowd was asked, and yelled, “Give us Barrabas! Crucify Jesus!”
Therefore, leadership in a Presbyterian church happens not with one person at the top or with all the people at the bottom, but in the middle. We lead through the Session, the Diaconate, and the Staff.
The word Presbyterian comes from the Greek word “presbuteros” which means “elder”, not as in older but as in wiser, trusted, calm, thick-skinned, leader whom the community has come to trust. Our Session is eleven persons, nine lay people elected by the congregation as Ruling Elders with voice and vote on all matters relating to the church, and our two Pastors as Teaching Elders with voice and vote but outnumbered by the laypersons.
We believe women and men are equally called to all forms and shapes of ministry. Therefore, on the Session, we try to have a balance of younger and older, male and female, long-time member and relatively new member.
Each Elder is elected to a three-year term, and serves as a liaison between the Session and one of our Session Committees. Each year, one-third of the Elders rotate off of Session, and a new class of Elders is nominated, elected, examined, ordained, and installed to active service. Think of it as “term-limits.” Our Pastors serve on Session as long as they serve the congregation.
This Congregation also uses a Diaconate, or Board of Deacons. In a Presbyterian church, Deacons are uniquely called individuals. While Elders on Session have to plan for buildings, dollars, personnel, and programs, Deacons are called to care for the flesh of the church and community.
This Congregation also employs staff, which includes the pastors and extends to Direcotrs and Assistants and other ministry support persons. The Staff resource and support the Elders, Committees, and Deacons to guide our ministries to be in tune with God’s vision of community for this time and space. Here are the current Leaders of our Congregation:
By our Book of Order, every congregation shall also be a registered non-profit corporation in States where that is an option. The congregation elects corporate officers to execute official legal actions on behalf of the Session. By our by-laws, we have three corporate officers.