"Whenever I ask our young people a rhetorical question at the time for the Children’s Sermon during the service of worship several of them inevitably give the answer “Jesus.” No matter what I ask, the response is the same. Presumably they have learned that the odds are good that he is the right answer to almost any query. Somewhat similarly, when I lead officer training workshops in our presbytery and around the country I always ask new elders, deacons, and trustees to give a singular answer to this question: What duties of the church belong to the session? “All of them” is usually the right answer since the session has to make decisions on most matters that concern the life and work of the local church unless they are specifically given to the pastor or to some other governing body.Earl S. Johnson, pastor of First Church of Johnstown, NY, has finished a 6 part series on "What is a Presbyterian Elder?" In this installment he looks at the Book of Order and its treatment of the responsibilities of an elder.
What are the top ten responsibilities of the session?
Top Ten Session Responsibilities
and Justice Mission
9. Higher Governing Bodies
10. Ecumenical Relationships
Having served on Session for 3 terms over a span of 30-some years, I can say that a better job can be done as far as elder training is concerned. All too often new elders are given a Book of Order and a short class in how a Session operates. It sounds like elders at First Church, Johnstown, NY get a comprehensive orientation to their functions.
I have a book, courtesy of my mother, called Presbyterian Polity for Church Officers, which I read last year. It tells a lot about the polity of the church, from the local congregation on through the General Assembly. The title is linked to Amazon.Com, and its price of $17.95 is reasonable. It might be a good investment for congregations to ensure each new elder has a copy.
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