The session and elders
The Session is the governing council of the local church. It consists of Elders and the Pastor(s) of a congregation. Elders are elected by the congregation to serve 3 year terms on Session. Elders work, study, pray, and lead together - always seeking the will of God for the benefit of the congregation. A Session is a collection of independent thinkers who use their talents to discern Christ's presence through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
“As there were in Old Testament times elders for the government of the people, so the New Testament church provided persons with particular gifts to share in discernment of God’s Spirit and governance of God’s people. Accordingly, congregations should elect persons of wisdom and maturity of faith, having demonstrated skills in leadership and being compassionate in spirit. Ruling elders are so named not because they “lord it over” the congregation (Matt. 20:25), but because they are chosen by the congregation to discern and measure its fidelity to the Word of God, and to strengthen and nurture its faith and life. Ruling elders, together with teaching elders, exercise leadership, government, spiritual discernment, and discipline and have responsibilities for the life of a congregation as well as the whole church, including ecumenical relationships.”
CLERKS OF SESSION
The Clerk of Session performs vital ministries for the life of a congregation - Recording the actions of the Session, keeping Church Rolls in order, helping to organize and manage the congregation's ministries, and being a friend and listening ear for the church staff.
- What are the responsibilities of a Clerk of Session? The Manual for Clerks of Session helps guide your ministry to the congregation.
- What goes in Session Minutes? The Checklist for Clerk of Session and the Checklist for Session Minutes provide thumbnail to-do lists. A Guide to Session Minutes (outdated) provides information for the front cover of your Session Minutes Book.
- What Rolls does the church keep and what is recorded in them? The Checklist for the Church Register is a handy list.
- All meetings of the PC(USA) are conducted according to Robert's Rules of Order. A quick guide to Parliamentary Procedure is here.
STATISTICAL REPORTING: Each year, the Presbyterian Church (USA) receives a statistical report from every congregation. The Clerk of Session is responsible for seeing that this reporting is done in order that our denomination knows how our churches are doing and how they can help. In January, organize your records and complete the annual survey at http://oga.pcusa.org/stats. Instructions are in English and Korean.
NECROLOGY REPORT: At the first Stated Meeting of the Presbytery each year, the names of Ministers and Ruling Elders who have died is read aloud during worship. This report is prepared by the Clerk of Session and is due by January 15. A downloadable Necrology Report is here.
calling a pastor or other church professional
- The Pulpit Supply List is the Presbytery-approved list of available Ministers and Lay Pastors to fill pastoral vacancies on a weekly or long-term basis.
Calling A Pastor
The process of calling a Pastor, Commissioned Ruling Elder, Educator, or other church professional is a long but exciting process. The Committee on Ministry (COM), and the General Presbyter stand ready to assist your congregation as it prayerfully seeks new leaders. Some helpful resources are:
- On Calling A Pastor
- Temporary Supply Covenant
- Terms of Call Form
- A Sample Christian Educator Position Description
- 2017 DCE Salary Guidelines
- 2018 Required Minimum Salary & Benefits Schedule for Ministers
- 2018 Standard Mileage Rates
A more complete listing of denominational policies and employment resources is at: https://www.pcusa.org/resource/list/manuals-and-policies/
presbytery low-interest loan program
The Presbytery has a fund for church projects. Interested? Download the fill out the Loan Application.
And what if things aren't going so well?
All churches run into rough patches. Who do you call when you need help? The General Presbyter and the Committee on Ministry can help you navigate the treacherous waters of being a church together. The PC(USA) has also produced many resources for congregations, among them is: Seeking to Be Faithful Together: Guidelines for Presbyterians During Times of Disagreement.