Once upon a time it was a letter. Now it’s an email, the email sent every year to the group of people who have agreed to go before the congregation for election to the next class of elders.
For those who are new to being Presbyterian—a goodly portion of the congregation—the church is governed by people you elect. You elect five of them every year, after some of you (the Nominating Committee) get together, pray, and determine who to suggest. They serve a term of three years on the Session. We call them “elders,” a word that implies experience with life and faith, though nowadays you need not be “elderly” to be an elder. The Greek word for elder is presbuteros—and yes, you got it, it is the source of our name as a denomination. Our name comes from how we govern ourselves as a church.
These five folks haven’t been elected yet. That happens this coming Sunday at the Congregational Meeting after worship, so by rights I am jumping the gun. But since I expect things to go as smoothly as they usually do (please, Lord), I have already sent the email saying thank you—thank for saying “yes” to serving the church. Thank you for being willing to embark on the journey of church leadership. Thank you for saying “yes” to the adventure of partnering with God to lead the church.
Once you elect these five folks—Jama Hayes, Peggy Kinkaid, Fred Piercy, Brian Smith, and Andrew Warren—they have a lot of work to do. They will undergo elder training, which is no small thing. They will write a statement of faith and share it before the Session. They will take on the leadership of one of the current ministries of the church. They will meet with others who care about that ministry and tackle the day to day things that allow that ministry to flourish. They will come together once a month with all the other elders to make decisions for the church—directing the pastor and the staff in all that they do. And they are bound to have some nights alone with God when they seek guidance because what to do is not that clear.
So please know that what the elder candidates are saying “yes” to is huge and that your vote this Sunday is what gives them the authority—with God’s help—to do it.
Scripture Readings: Acts 9:1-6, John 21:1-19
The prayer list can be found here.