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Church Officer Development

Nominations for 2017 are closed.

Christ through His Spirit calls all His people into the good work of confessing the forgiveness and resurrection offered in the gospel, nurturing the Church, and bearing fruit in the world. At Trinity, these various forms of ministry take place through many avenues—leadership teams, ministry teams, pastoral and church staff, parish teams, small groups, families, and individuals.

We have entrusted oversight of our common spiritual life and leadership of our works of mercy and justice to church officers called Elders and Deacons, as established in scripture and confirmed by our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). These men are called and ordained to this work after first being identified and nominated by other members of our church. Following nomination by at least three other members not related to them, they enter a time of training and discernment, and after successful completion the Session votes to submit their names to the congregation for election to office. After election, officers are ordained and installed to lifetime service in their office. The usual time from nomination to ordination is close to a year.

The Trinity Officer Development Ministry Team (ODMT) oversees the nomination and training process for Elders and Deacons on behalf of the Session. Nominations for 2017 are closed.

Elders oversee the church's teaching and spiritual nurture of the congregation. This involves two main aspects: governing and shepherding. Collectively known as the Session, Elders lead our church in its mission to the world. As shepherds, they facilitate, nourish, and protect the communal and individual spiritual lives of those entrusted to their care. Elders ensure that the grace and truth of the gospel are lived out in the body of Christ at Trinity.

Deacons demonstrate the reality of Christ's love and mercy by serving people—especially the vulnerable among us. Deacons comfort people in need, care for the poor, and encourage the church in this work, thereby authenticating and demonstrating the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Deacons also steward and manage the resources entrusted to the church by God, including our facility, property, and financial resources.

Developing New Elders and Deacons

Identifying and nominating individual members who display the character and gifts for this work is both a privilege and a responsibility of church membership. Because nomination is a result of the activity of the Holy Spirit in bringing to mind those who would serve the church well, and because ordination to office is perpetual (lifetime), please:

  • Read the qualifications for leadership found in 1 Timothy 3:1-13.
  • Pray for wisdom and guidance as you consider potential nominees.
  • Consider men at least 25 years of age who have been members of Trinity for at least 12 months.
  • Ponder the qualifications of each specific potential nominee, remembering that the Bible emphasizes character rather than skills.

For Elders, nominate men who exhibit:

  • dedication to the sound teaching of scripture
  • history of being sought out for spiritual guidance
  • Christian experience and maturity
  • reputation for wise engagement with people's struggles
  • concern and prayer for the sick and needy

For Deacons, nominate men who exhibit:

  • strong willingness—even eagerness—to serve others
  • clear concern for the poor and vulnerable
  • demonstrated ability to solve practical problems
  • readiness to "get their hands dirty"

Those who have been nominated in the past are eligible to be nominated again. A previous nominee may have needed time to be known by more people in the congregation, or to grow spiritually, or may have had life circumstances when initially nominated that made it unwise to accept the duties. Trinity employees are no longer eligible to be considered for nomination to serve during their employment.

The Discernment Process

Serving as a church officer is a high calling that requires tested godliness and trustworthiness. The process of discerning these qualities involves the Holy Spirit, the congregation, the Session, and the candidates themselves, and takes considerable prayer and time for the nominee and for those surrounding him. Our process provides for that.

Summer to Explore
During the summer after being nominated there is opportunity to learn more before committing to the process that begins in the fall. The nominees meet with ODMT and a few officers to hear about the basics and ask questions. Nominees may wish to attend a Session or Diaconate meeting (these are generally open to any member). Nominees who wish to do so will be paired early with an officer mentor to meet a few times over the summer to talk about the office and the work involved in preparation and service.

Initial Interview
Early in the fall discernment period, nominees will be examined by a member of the Session. Nominees will be asked about their Christian experience, their moral character and daily walk, evidence of spiritual gifts that fit them for the work to which they have been nominated, and the other aspects of character and life mentioned in 1 Timothy 3. If the nominee is married, a separate interview with his wife will be requested.

Training Program (fall and winter)
When a nominee agrees to move forward, the training will include:

  • Meetings with a mentor who currently is active in the office to which he is nominated
  • Attendance at regular meetings
  • Instruction in the Bible, the Reformed faith (with its confessions and catechisms), the Book of Church Order (BCO), the distinctive aspects of the Presbyterian Church in America, and the vision and policies of Trinity Presbyterian Church
  • Information about Trinity's organization and the service and support ministries that are prominent in the life of Trinity—Mercy, Finance, Facilities, and Worship
  • Examination on the content of the training program

Having completed the training program, the candidate will be examined by the Session in:

  • Christian experience, especially personal character and family management
  • Knowledge of the system of doctrine, government, and discipline contained in the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America, and assent to the questions required for ordination
  • Duties of the office

Beginning Service as a Church Officer

To serve as an Elder or Deacon requires election to the office by the congregation after being certified by the Session as meeting all the requirements. Following election, the new officers will be ordained and installed in their office at a worship service. The office is lifetime, although there are provisions for a sabbatical and approving requested periods of inactivity or emeritus status when illness or age so dictate.

Pertinent sections of the PCA book of church order

7-2. The ordinary and perpetual classes of office in the Church are elders and deacons. Within the class of elder are the two orders of teaching elders and ruling elders. The elders jointly have the government and spiritual oversight of the Church, including teaching. Only those elders who are specially gifted, called and trained by God to preach may serve as teaching elders. The office of deacon is not one of rule, but rather of service both to the physical and spiritual needs of the people. In accord with Scripture, these offices are open to men only.

9-1. The office of deacon is set forth in the Scriptures as ordinary and perpetual in the Church. The office is one of sympathy and service, after the example of the Lord Jesus; it expresses also the communion of saints, especially in their helping one another in time of need.

9-2. It is the duty of the deacons to minister to those who are in need, to the sick, to the friendless, and to any who may be in distress. It is their duty also to develop the grace of liberality in the members of the church, to devise effective methods of collecting the gifts of the people, and to distribute these gifts among the objects to which they are contributed. They shall have the care of the property of the congregation, both real and personal, and shall keep in proper repair the church edifice and other buildings belonging to the congregation. In matters of special importance affecting the property of the church, they cannot take final action without the approval of the Session and consent of the congregation.

In the discharge of their duties the deacons are under supervision and authority of the Session. In a church in which it is impossible for any reason to secure deacons, duties of the office shall devolve upon the ruling elders.

9-3. To the office of deacon, which is spiritual in nature, shall be chosen men of spiritual character, honest repute, exemplary lives, brotherly spirit, warm sympathies, and sound judgment.

17-1. Those who have been called to office in the Church are to be inducted by the ordination of a court.

17-2. Ordination is the authoritative admission of one duly called to an office in the Church of God, accompanied with prayer and the laying on of hands, to which it is proper to add the giving of the right hand of fellowship.