What is an elder?
An elder is an officer of the church who is elected and given the responsibility of overseeing the life of the congregation, including shepherding, making important decisions, exercising authority, and leading with wisdom. They strive to be exemplars of what a Christian ought to be and see to be examples of faith in life and godliness.
Paul wrote to Timothy the following description of an elder:
“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”
I Timothy 3:1-7
What role does an elder play at Faith Presbyterian?
The elders are divided into two groups: teaching elders and ruling elders. The teaching elders are more commonly known as “the pastors.” While they make all the same decisions and have the same responsibilities as the rest of the elders, they also lead the congregation in worship, preach the Word of God, and administer the sacraments, as well as providing counseling and other clerical work. Those elders which are not pastors, but which do participate in all the other functions of an elder, are called “ruling elders.”
The elders take on the task of overseeing the flock. Each member of Faith Presbyterian becomes part of an “elder group,” assigned to a particular ruling elder for his care. The elders also make the important legal and directional decisions for the church, acting as its governing body. Part of this means that they are in charge of church discipline and similar matters.
Here at Faith Presbyterian, the congregation elects qualified men to the position of elder every few years. After training and ordination, those men will then serve for life, or until their retirement. This helps to unify the life of the congregation in a continuous stream, in which newer elders come under the care of older, more experienced elders, and learn from them as the whole session (the term for the board of elders) seeks to guide the congregation.
Elders also have a role in the denomination as a whole, as they are able to represent our congregation with a vote both in the Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest and in the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America.
The Session of Faith Presbyterian Church
- Mark Aown
- Peter Chiou
- Paul Darby
- Ryan Gross
- Steve Jack, Clerk
- Don Mellott
- Mike Pfefferle
- Jerry Savage