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The Leadership Structure of Our Church

 

THE SESSION of the Presbyterian Church of JerseyShore
      The Session is the governing body of the local church. It consists of nine elders, each elected by the congregation for a term of three years, plus the Pastor. Members are called of God, and must be ordained before they can serve, being set apart as elders, an office held for life. The work of Session is similar to that of parents in a home – they are responsible for the overall life and well-being of the local church. They direct the spiritual mission, and provide for the temporal needs of the church. They are responsible for the financial solvency of the church and conduct its business. They initiate and oversee programs that accomplish these responsibilities. All this may make you think that Session membership would require a very special background. In truth, there are just four main requirements to be an effective member of the Session – to be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, to love God and others, to be humbly repentant of sin, and to have a sense of call and desire to serve in the local church. All Elders are seated for the first time with fear and trembling – only to find that God can work through everyone and use their talents to accomplish His will – and they soon relax into what is a very rewarding experience. The Session meets once each month except during the Summer, and has a Retreat once a year. All Session members serve on at least one committee. The committees average one meeting every month, except in the summer.
 
SESSION COMMITTEES: Although the Session has overall responsibility for every church task, it is obvious they could not personally accomplish all of the work involved. For this reason, much is delegated to other church entities (e.g., Sunday School is assigned to our Christian Ed Committee, securing ushers is assigned to the Deacons, etc.). Nevertheless, the Session remains responsible for these delegated tasks. Although each Session member serves on one or more of these committees, church members and regular attenders are allowed and encouraged to participate as well. Committees bring motions and reports of their activities to the Session, carry out instructions from the Session, and oversee the details and budgeted spending for activities within their area of responsibility. Here is a list of committees and some of their responsibilities:
 
WORSHIP & LONG-RANGE PLANNING: Plans, with the Pastor, for the regular and special services of worship; oversees sanctuary appointments, flowers, candles, and musicians (with the Music Director); ensures approval and preparations to administer the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion; does other tasks listed in the Book of Order, W-1.4000; develops the prayer life of the congregation; and plans for the future.
 
EVANGELISM TEAM: Provides opportunities and training for in-church and personal evangelism; helps plan “bridge” events and local missions activities that serve our community; oversees publicity and visitor welcome and follow-up; helps ensure the integration of new members; decides how to distribute local missions funds to other ministries and agencies; educates and enables global missions.
 
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION: Provides for education and nurture that helps members and attenders grow in faith and spiritual maturity as disciples of Jesus Christ; oversees the nursery, Sunday School, youth ministry, VBS, small group Bible studies, parent and family education, and the educational component of other activities such as Lenten programs or the Fall Retreat.
 
COMMITMENT: Oversees all church financial matters; researches, submits for approval, and oversees the budget; ensures regular financial reporting to Session and congregation; assists and oversees the Church Treasurer (e.g. helps set spending priorities), any separate fund treasurers, and the Financial Secretary; provides for stewardship education and campaign; plans and oversees (perhaps through a sub-committee) all church fund-raising efforts; works with the Service Committee to ensure adequate insurance coverage.
 
SERVICE: Provides for the maintenance and repair of our church properties, including the buildings, grounds, and equipment; organizes church work days; oversees the rental of the manse; works with the Treasurer and Commitment Committee to make sure we have adequate insurance coverage.
 
PERSONNEL: Supports and facilitates the work of the paid staff of the church, helping provide for a healthy work environment, and for the nurture and growth of staff members, including employment of non-ordained staff, with concern for equal employment opportunity, fair employment practices, personnel policies, and the annual review of the adequacy of compensation for all staff, including all employees.
 
CLERK OF SESSION: An individual not a committee, the Clerk works with the Pastor to prepare an agenda for each meeting; records and distributes minutes from meetings; determines if a quorum is present; reports on baptisms, communion, funerals, weddings, and membership changes; handles correspondence to and from the Session; takes minutes at the annual meeting; reports statistical and other information to higher governing bodies; and much more!


 

Other Boards and Positions:
 
THE BOARD OF DEACONS: The board consists of twelve Deacons. They are elected by the congregation for a three year term in three equal and staggered classes. Those who serve in this capacity are also called of God through their election, are ordained and set apart as Deacons.
Deacons are the ones that the congregation most often interfaces with. They provide for the after worship refreshments, help with most of our special dinners, plan monthly fellowship events, provide funeral lunches, and oversee the kitchen and its supplies. They help with the Annual Fall Festival and other fundraisers. They provide clothing and gifts for needy children, and funds to meet church and member emergencies. They oversee the procurement of flowers for the sanctuary. They also secure and train the volunteers who usher and those who serve during our coffee hour time, with one deacon taking each month. With the elders, pastor, and Evangelism & Missions Committee they help oversee the Care Groups of the congregation, and bring pastoral needs to the Pastor’s attention. One or more deacons also serves on each Session Committee. The Board of Deacons meets once each month except during the Summer. 
The Book of Order (G-6.0402) defines the duty of deacons by saying: “It is the duty of deacons, first of all, to minister to those who are in need, to the sick, to the friendless, and to any who may be in distress. They shall assume such other duties as may be delegated to them from time to time by the Session.”
 
NOMINATING & SPIRITUAL GIFTS COMMITTEE: Actually a committee of the congregation, not Session, and so not under Session oversight except as provided in the Book of Order. Two elders are appointed to it from Session. This committee nominates church members for election as Elders or Deacons, and assists in discerning the Spiritual gifts and talents of members for the purpose of recruiting members to committees.
 
TREASURER:  The treasurer is elected annually by the Session and is overseen by the Commitment Committee. The treasurer is responsible, with review and assistance from the Commitment Committee, and with assistance from the Financial Secretary and individual fund treasurers, to report on the finances of the church at each stated Session meeting, and/or whenever requested. The treasurer also: pays bills, payroll, and other financial obligations in a timely manner, consulting with the Commitment Committee to determine priorities when funds are scarce; keeps adequate books and records to reflect all financial transactions, open to inspection by authorized church officers at reasonable times; and arranges for a full financial review (informally called an “audit”) of all books and records relating to finances once each year by the Audit Committee.