Dear Redeemer Members and Attendees,
We, the Session of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, are excited to announce that we are calling for nominations of new Elders, Deacons, & Deaconesses!
We are committed to developing men and women as new leaders of our congregation for our growth and maturity in years to come. Redeemer functions under the Presbyterian form of church government. The congregation nominates and elects men to two offices of the church: Elders and Deacons, while also nominating women to the role of Deaconesses.
As we plan to develop new leaders, we want to keep you informed about three things we have been intentionally working on:
1. A Sabbatical Policy 2. “Diaconal Assistant” name change to “Deaconess” 3. The Process and Qualifications for Nominees
A Sabbatical Policy
To best care for our current and future leaders, while also encouraging regular leadership development, we are in the process of approving a sabbatical policy for our Elders, Deacons, and Deaconesses (we already have a sabbatical policy for our pastors). After serving a three to five-year term, each Elder, Deacon, and Deaconess will take a one-year sabbatical for spiritual refreshment. Toward the end of the sabbatical year, the leader will evaluate with the Session on whether or not it is best for him/her and the congregation to continue serving in their office or role. We plan to approve this policy on May 14th at our next Session meeting. If you would like to read it, please email Pastor Adam Feichtmann.
“Diaconal Assistant” name change to “Deaconess”
After hearing helpful feedback from many of you in the congregation and our study of the historical practices of the church, we have recently changed the title of our “Diaconal Assistants” to “Deaconesses.” The role and functions have not changed, and our current Diaconal Assistants, Deacons, and Elders are all unanimously in support of the title change. Please see the description below to better understand what a Deaconess is and does when considering who to nominate for that role.
The Process for Nominees
As Presbyterians we like to make sure everything is done in an orderly and thoughtful fashion, to have a long lasting and deep impact on the health of our congregation. The process for the offices of new Elders and Deacons to be ordained and for the role of new Deaconesses to be commissioned will be done in the following steps:
1. A Nomination Period
A nomination period is an open time frame in which members of Redeemer can make nominations for new Elders, Deacons, and Deaconesses. The open period for nominations will be one month, May 15 to June 15, 2019.
An email will be sent out on May 15 with an online form for you to complete in order to nominate an individual(s). Only members may submit nominations.
Therefore, we are asking you, the members of Redeemer, to be thinking and praying about men and women who you would like to nominate as Elders, Deacons, and Deaconesses.
Carefully consider the person in light of the biblical teaching and qualifications outlined below for Elders, Deacons, and Deaconesses. Ponder the qualifications of each specific potential nominee, remembering that the Bible emphasizes character rather than skills.
Verify with your candidate that he or she is a member of Redeemer and willing to serve as a Elder, Deacon, or Deaconess.
If the answers are “yes”, then please submit the online form during the nomination period. Please do not submit names of individuals who are not members or that you have not spoken to ahead of time.
2. Summer to Explore & Initial Interviews
Over the summer, after being nominated, there will be an opportunity for individuals to learn more before committing to a process that begins in the fall. The nominees will meet with current Elders, Deacons, and Deaconesses to learn the work involved and discern if they would like to serve in the appropriate office or role. If interest and willingness continues, a member or members of the Session will perform an initial interview. Nominees will be asked about their Christian experience, their moral character and regular spiritual habits, evidence of spiritual gifts that fit them for the work to which they have been nominated, and the other aspects of character and life that are mentioned in the biblical qualifications. If the nominee is married, a separate interview with their spouse will be requested.
3. Fall & Winter Candidate Training & Mentoring Program
In the early fall, when both a nominee and the Session agree to move forward, that individual will become a candidate and will begin a training & mentoring program with the other candidates throughout the fall and into the winter. Training & mentoring will include instruction and collaborative discussion in ministry philosophy, biblical and theological formation, ecclesial formation, character formation, and pastoral care. During this period candidates will attend some Session, Diaconate, and Shepherding Team meetings.
4. Winter Examinations
Having completed the training program, the candidates will then be examined by the Session on their Calling, Character, Competency, Compatibility, and Comprehension (Redeemer’s and the PCA’s convictions about the Bible, theology, worship, the sacraments, and church government).
5. Winter or Spring Election and Appointment & Ordination and Commissioning
To serve as an Elder or a Deacon requires an election to the office by the congregation after being certified by the Session as meeting all the requirements and passing their examinations. To serve as a Deaconess requires the Session officially appointing those women who they believe have met all the requirements and passed their examinations. Following the election of new Elders and Deacons, a date will be set for them to be ordained and installed into their office during a worship service. Following the appointment of new Deaconesses, a date will be set for them to be commissioned into their role during a worship service. Elders, Deacons, and Deaconesses will then serve for a three to five-year term, after which they will take a sabbatical.
Qualifications for Nominees
Requirements for all nominees
Nominees should have been a Christian for at least three years and a Redeemer member for at least one year. Please note that a minimum of three nominations is required for a nominee to enter the screening process.
Qualifications to consider
Should I nominate a particular member to be an Elder, Deacon or Deaconess at Redeemer? Should I accept a nomination to be considered as an Elder, Deacon or Deaconess at Redeemer? The following guidelines, though not the final word on the matter, ought to help as you consider these questions.
Five categories of qualifications
Calling: Calling is both inward and outward. A nominee should possess both an inward and outward calling to the office or role. The inward calling is manifest by a nominee’s own desire to serve the church, as well as a belief that one has the gifts necessary to serve in the particular office or role. The outward calling comes as others in our community recognize a nominee as possessing the gifts and graces necessary for the task.
Character: Though no leader can expect to be perfect, he or she must be exemplary, modeling in a consistent way the character of Christ and displaying the Fruit of the Spirit. Romans 16:1,3, 1 Timothy 3 & 5, Titus 1:5-9, Titus 2:3-8, and Galatians 5:22-26 offer a useful summary of the character qualifications.
Competency: God calls Elders, Deacons and Deaconesses to serve in distinct and varying ways. A nominee should evidence the inclination and ability to fulfill that particular biblical office or role.
Elder nominees should be men who are mature followers of Jesus. Their main responsibilities fall under three categories: Shepherding, Prayer, and Governance. They should be visionary leaders – not “micro-managers” – who can both guard and expand the church’s vision and practices. They need to know the Bible and be able to teach the Bible to others. They should have a history of being sought out for spiritual guidance. They will lead a Shepherding Team of Deacons and Deaconesses to care for the spiritual and physical needs of Redeemer’s members.
Deacon nominees should be men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom who come alongside the Session to help serve the congregation of the church with a caring spirit in practical ways. Their service should help free the Session to focus on their particular responsibilities. Deacons’ main responsibilities fall under three categories: Benevolence, Administration, and Pastoral Care. They should exhibit a strong willingness – even eagerness – to serve others, a clear concern for the poor and vulnerable, demonstrated ability to solve practical problems, and a readiness to get their hands dirty. They will be part of a Shepherding Team with Elders and Deaconesses to care for the spiritual and physical needs of Redeemer’s members, as well as assisting the Session with new member interviews.
Deaconess nominees should be women who are godly servants and mature mentors in the church. They assist the Deacons and the Elders in both the physical and spiritual needs of the church, especially toward the women of the church. Deaconesses’ main responsibilities fall under three main categories: Discipleship, Care, and Leadership. They should have displayed a history of investing, mentoring, and equipping women (typically younger women) in the church. They regularly demonstrate care to others through ministries of counseling, hospitality, visitation, and prayer, especially to those in need of love and mercy. They have led other women in the church well and are able to assist the Deacons and Elders in mobilizing the congregation and providing input and perspective in matters pertaining to the organizational leadership of the Deacons and Elders. They will be part of a Shepherding Team with Elders and Deacons to care for the spiritual and physical needs of Redeemer’s members, as well as assisting the Session with new member interviews.
Compatibility: Nominees should be "team players" who wholeheartedly embrace the vision and philosophy of ministry of Redeemer. This should already be evident through regular worship, church life participation, sacrificial giving (tithing as a minimum guideline) and service to the congregation.
Comprehension: Nominees need to understand and accept Redeemer’s convictions about theology, worship, sacraments, and church government. This involves commitment to the Bible’s authority, to Presbyterian Church government and to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms (We are looking for people who are in agreement with the key tenets of our theology and are open to variations on minor issues.)
In Christ, The Session of Redeemer