What is a faithful consistory?
A common misconception is that a congregation is built like a pyramid, with the minister at the top, the consistory next, and the congregation as a broad but somehow less-than-equal base. This is certainly not how the church order of the Reformed Church was conceived some five centuries ago. In light of Reformed church order, the structure of an RCA congregation is better represented as a circle with the consistory, including the pastor, inside. The whole circle stands together under the wisdom and guidance of the Word of God. The same Word measures each and all of us.
Reformed thought teaches that the whole ministry of Christ is found only when the whole congregation, including the elders, deacons, and ministers, is called to serve. The three offices– elder, deacon, and minister–complement each other and together are described as making up the pastorate of a local congregation. It has been customary to call the minister “pastor,” and that is appropriate. But the pastorate, the ministry of leadership, is only complete when all three offices work together, when they are mutually supportive and mutually accountable.
What’s an Elder?
Far from being just a placeholder in the congregation’s structure, an elder has specific ministry responsibilities that help provide for and protect the church.
The office of the elder is one of servant hood, representing Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit. In the local church, elders are chosen members who show spiritual discernment, lead exemplary lives, have charitable spirits, and embody wisdom grounded in God’s Word.
Elders, together with the installed minister/s serving under a call, have supervision of the church entrusted to them. They are set apart for a ministry of watchful and responsible care for all matters relating to the welfare and good order of the church. They are to study God’s Word, oversee the household of faith, encourage spiritual growth, maintain loving discipline, and provide for the proclamation of the gospel and the celebration of the sacraments.
–adapted from the Book of Church Order, Part I, Article 1, Section 8
We would like to thank our Church members who serve as Elders:
Jane Coles, Tom Calhoon, Dulcie Crowther, and Glenn Wells. We are pleased to welcome Barbara Daniels as an Elder and a new member of the consistory.
What are deacons called to do?
The Greek word in the Bible for deacon, diakonos, means servant.
Jesus provided the ultimate role model for servanthood. Throughout his ministry he reminded his followers in word and deed that he was among them as one who serves.
Deacons play a key role in moving their churches into missions of justice, mercy, and compassion. They organize soup kitchens, lead work groups to repair homes for elderly people or clean up a local stream, and minister to patients dying of AIDS.
Six diaconal concern areas:
- Stewardship education and congregational giving
- Special individual and family concerns
- Mission involvement
- Disaster response and volunteer service opportunities
- Hunger advocacy and relief efforts
- Caring for creation and simple living