Clerks Of Session

So they’ve elected you Clerk of Session. Now what?

There’s a Manual for Clerks of Session. There are checklists for keeping rolls and registers. There are guides for you to help meetings run smoothly. Check out the helps on this page and call the Presbytery Office if you need assistance.

Clerk of Session Training


The Presbytery of East Tennessee is grateful for the ministry of our churches’ Stated Clerks. Your ministries of memory creation preserve a permanent record of the work of your church.

The purpose of Minute-writing and reviewing is to help you preserve the very best the record of your church’s ministry for the members who will come after you. You are writing history. You are ensuring the institutional memory of God’s work in your congregation.

What Goes Into Minutes?

  • Record when, where, and by whom the meeting was CONVENED. Include the name of the MODERATOR.
  • All meetings should be opened and closed with prayer. That this was done should be recorded.
  • Minutes should record the session members present. Absences need not be recorded.
  • Report changes to the church rolls.
  • Report any correspondence addressed to the session.
  • Motions made may include the name of the maker, or the name of the committee making the motion. The person seconding a motion is not named. It is not necessary to record the number of votes for or against a motion, unless a written or hand ballot is called for. Simply report that the motion passed or failed.
  • Baptisms, including names of those baptized and the elder presenter should be recorded with date. Celebrations of the Lord’s Supper should also be recorded after they have occurred.
  • It’s not necessary to include written committee reports in the minutes. Do record all actions that committees have taken as authorized by session. If committees are functioning within their budgets and their committee description in the Administrative Manual, committee actions should be reported as shared information, but do not require further approval by session.
  • Record that session approved the minutes from the previous meeting as part of the meeting. Minutes aren’t minutes until the session votes to approve them. Until then, they’re just neatly typed notes.
  • Record the time of meeting adjournment with prayer.
  • State the date and time of the next meeting.

Taking and Preserving Minutes

  • Minutes should be typed.
  • Minutes should be stored in a sturdy, 3-ring binder. Minutes should be printed on Letter-size paper.
  • Most paper now is acid-free, but at least 20 lb paper is recommended.
  • The pages of minutes should be consecutively numbered, not just in one binder, but from one to the next.
  • If corrections need to be made to a page of minutes, they may be done in writing, crossing out the amended text and hand writing with a single line. Inserted text should be printed as neatly as possible with the CLERK’S initials beside the correction.
  • Make minutes easy to read, with decisions of the session clearly marked as such.
  • Write in complete sentences. Be concise, but include all necessary details.
  • Minutes should be printed and preserved in a binder. This could be a 3-ring binder, or an expensive heavy duty binder from Cokesbury, or minutes could also be spiral-bound.
  • Minute binders should be clearly labeled as such and stored in the church office or some other location where they can be easily accessed.
  • Minutes are the property of a congregation.
  • Most churches are saving their minutes online, perhaps on Google Drive or Dropbox. If so, be sure that the login credentials and sharing ability is distributed among multiple people. That way if one person leaves or otherwise is unavailable, the stored minutes will still be accessible.
  • Regardless of how and where the minutes are stored, there needs to be a printed version available for public viewing, kept in a clearly-marked, sturdy binder. Storage media changes. Paper has never gone out of style.
  • Every few years, a church should send a copy of its minutes to the Presbyterian Historical Society for scanning and archiving.