As there were in Old Covenant Israel elders of the people joined with the priests and Levites in the government of the Jewish Church, so Christ has instituted governors in the New Covenant Church, commonly called ruling elders (2 Chron. 19:8; Rom. 12:8; 1 Cor. 12:28). These men are “elders of the gate,” or “elders of the people,” called upon to oversee the social life of the community as “chief laymen.” They are to be wise and God fearing men, fit for leadership (1 Tim. 3). Their work is primarily circum sacra rather than in sacris. Ruling elders are especially gifted in governing, though they may have other gifts as well. Governing the Church as a ruling elder is a matter of serving and caring for the people, setting before them a godly example in vocational and familial life, counseling and encouraging them, and engaging in discipline as needed. It is imperative that ruling elders know the people of the congregation well and command their trust and respect.
For a Biblical overview of the roles of elders and deacons in the church, see our constitution, beginning on page 6.
Gilbert Douglas (Clerk of Session)
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