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We’re having a congregational meeting on Sunday, November 12th after worship to elect 4 members to our Nominating Committee for 2017.
In the Presbyterian Church, our polity (or constitution) sets forth that leadership is a gift from Christ to the whole church, not just particular “popular” or powerful individuals. They are to be discerned, examined, trained and elected by the whole community, trusting that we best hear God’s direction as a community not as isolated or hierarchisized individuals.
And so we elect at Nominating Committee to discern together the ways in which God has gifted our community, specifically through the gifts (or charismas) of our members to help lead our community today. Those nominated are then presented for election by the entire congregation at an annual meeting of the congregation. It’s really spirit-filled democracy in action!
Our by-laws state that we elect a new Nominating Committee each year. This is to be comprised of 2 Elders, elected from and by the current Session, 1 Deacon (elected by and from the current Board of Deacons), and 4 members at large (neither current Elders or Deacons) to fill out the committee. The pastor is allowed to be part of the NC in an advisory role, having voice, but no vote. This is all structured to ensure fairness, equality and justice so that no one group (or person) has the power to dictate to others what should be done.
Here’s what our constitution (the Book of Order) [WHOLE TEXT] says about the whole process, purpose and passion of leadership.
G-2.01 ORDERED MINISTRIES OF THE CHURCH
G-2.0101 Christ’s Ministry
The Church’s ministry is a gift from Jesus Christ to the whole Church. Christ alone rules, calls, teaches, and uses the Church as he wills, exercising his authority by the ministry of women and men for the establishment and extension of God’s new creation. Christ’s ministry is the foundation and standard for all ministry, the pattern of the one who came “not to be served but to serve” (Matt. 20:28). The basic form of ministry is the ministry of the whole people of God, from whose midst some are called to ordered ministries, to fulfill particular functions. Members and those in ordered ministries serve together under the mandate of Christ.
G-2.0102 Ordered Ministries
The Church’s ordered ministries described in the New Testament and maintained by this church are deacons and presbyters (teaching elders and ruling elders ). Ordered ministries are gifts to the church to order its life so that the ministry of the whole people of God may flourish. The existence of these ordered ministries in no way diminishes the importance of the commitment of all members to the total ministry of the church. The government of this church is representative , and the right of God’s people to elect presbyters and deacons is inalienable. Therefore, no person can be placed in any ordered ministry in a congregation or council of the church except by election of that body. Ordination to the ministry of teaching elder, ruling elder, or deacon is unique to that order of ministry.
G-2.0103 Call to Ordered Ministry
The call to ordered ministry in the Church is the act of the triune God. This call is evidenced by the movement of the Holy Spirit in the individual conscience, the approval of a community of God’s people, and the concurring judgment of a council of the Church.
Gifts and Qualifications
a. To those called to exercise special functions in the church—deacons, ruling elders, and teaching elders—God gives suitable gifts for their various duties. In addition to possessing the necessary gifts and abilities, those who undertake particular ministries should be persons of strong faith, dedicated discipleship, and love of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Their manner of life should be a demonstration of the Christian gospel in the church and in the world. They must have the approval of God’s people and the concurring judgment of a council of the church. G-2.01–G-2.02 Form of Government G-2.0104b–G-2.0201 26 Book of Order 2015/2017
b. Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (F-1.02). The council responsible for ordination and/or installation (G-2.0402; G-2.0607; G-3.0306) shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of ordered ministry. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003). Councils shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.
Freedom of Conscience
It is necessary to the integrity and health of the church that the persons who serve it in ordered ministries shall adhere to the essentials of the Reformed faith and polity as expressed in this Constitution. So far as may be possible without serious departure from these standards, without infringing on the rights and views of others, and without obstructing the constitutional governance of the church, freedom of conscience with respect to the interpretation of Scripture is to be maintained. It is to be recognized, however, that in entering the ordered ministries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), one chooses to exercise freedom of conscience within certain bounds. His or her conscience is captive to the Word of God as interpreted in the standards of the church so long as he or she continues to seek, or serve in, ordered ministry. The decision as to whether a person has departed from essentials of Reformed faith and polity is made initially by the individual concerned but ultimately becomes the responsibility of the council in which he or she is a member.