Elders, Deacons & Deaconesses
Redeemer operates under a Presbyterian form of church government where the congregation nominates and elects elders and deacons to serve as the officers of the church. Elders are responsible for the governance and spiritual oversight of the church. Deacons are responsible for addressing the physical and mercy needs of the church and managing the church’s resources. At Redeemer we currently have elders but no deacons. Over the next year we would like to nominate, train, elect, and install deacons and any new elders God may raise up. In addition to these two offices the Session (the group of active elders as whole), with recommendations from the congregation, hopes to appoint a number of Redeemer women to serve as deaconesses. In this role of service and care deaconesses will collaborate with the officers of the church and specifically address the spiritual care needs of women.
Nominating, training, electing, installing officers and appointing deaconesses will be new processes for us as a young church. For many of us, these are new terms and unfamiliar ideas and like most new things raise a fair number of questions. It’s also an important process that each and every member of Redeemer has a responsibility to participate in. In the sections below you can find a bit of information about elders, deacons, deaconesses, and the process we hope to follow. We will also have a congregational meeting for Sunday November 9th to discuss the process and plan. Please make every effort to attend.
What Are Those?
The office of elder is an office of pastoral authority. Elders are first and foremost to be shepherds of the church. Elders lead the church (1 Tim 5:17; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:1-2), teach and preach (1 Timothy 3:2; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9), protect the church from false teachers (Acts 20:17, 28-31), visit the sick and pray for the church (James 5:14; Acts 20:35), and equip the church for ministry (Ephesians 4:12). Elders discern the direction and vision of the church. They make final decisions regarding the finances of the church. They admit, discipline, and remove members. And they are accountable for the health and well being of the church (Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 5:1-4, 1 Timothy 5:17).
Presbyterian forms of church government have traditionally distinguished between two types of Elders, teaching and ruling elders. They are equal in authority, vote, and biblical qualification, but perform different functions and are ordained by different church courts. In our denomination this office is open only to men who meet the qualifications laid out in 1 Timothy 3. For more on why this is the case see the Redeemer Presbyterian Church Position paper on Trinitarian Equality and Office.
The office of deacon is one of service and ministry specifically directed at the physical and material needs of the congregation. Deacons help free the Elders of the church to devote themselves to shepherding, prayer, and teaching by caring for the hurts of people both within and outside of the church (Acts 6:1-4). Deacons take the lead in care for not only the physical needs of people in the church but also of the church facilities. In our denomination the office of Deacon is open only to men who meet the qualification. For more on why this is the case see the Redeemer Presbyterian Church Position paper on Trinitarian Equality and Office.
The role of Deaconess at Redeemer is one of service and care that seeks to encourage works of mercy in the larger fellowship and address specifically the Spiritual care needs of women. Deaconesses meet collectively with the deacons periodically to collaborate and help “in caring for the sick, the widows, the orphans, the prisoners, and others who may be in any distress or need.” (BCO 9-7) They also assist and advise the Elders of Redeemer in specific pastoral care situations. Deaconesses are appointed by the Session, with recommendations from the congregation. For more information see the Redeemer Presbyterian Church Position paper on Trinitarian Equality and Office.
What Is My Role?
The people of the church elect the officers of the church. This right and responsibility are a part of our 5th membership vow where we promise to ‘submit to the government and discipline of the church.’ The congregation gets to nominate and elect the officers that make up the ‘government’ of the church. Each member has the responsibility to nominate qualified men for office and to participate in their election. Additionally, the Session wants your recommendations for deaconesses.
Following our congregational meeting on November 9th we will be sending out nomination/recommendation forms. Between now and then take some time to pray for the process, to reflect on the qualifications discussed below, and talk with people you might nominate to gage their interest.
We hope to follow the time line below.
November 10th-24th Congregation nominates and recommends
December 2014 - Nominees meet with pastors to discuss willingness, desires, and availability for training.
January - September 2015 - Training
October 2015 - Examination by Session
November 2015 - Election of Elders and Deacons by Congregation / Appointment of Deaconesses by Session
November 2015 - Ordination & Instillation of Elders and Deacons