The following information covers only Duties of Church Officers (Chapter 7 p.43 -)
|Moral Fitness for Office||Religious Fitness for Office|
|Guard and Feed the Church||Respect Due to Ministers & Officers|
|Not to be Hurried into Office||Must Support Unity in the Church|
|Must Cooperate with Others||Membership Required|
|Term of Office||Church Elder|
|Interest Coordinator||Church Clerk|
|Church Treasurer||Church Leaders|
Choosing officers for the church or conference/mission/field is an important matter. The prosperity of the work depends largely upon its leadership. The greatest care should be exercised in calling men and women into positions of sacred responsibility. The following qualifications should be earnestly sought in those who are nominated for church office.
Moral Fitness "Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens" (Ex. 18:21).
"Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business" (Acts 6:3).
"Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil" (1 Tim. 3:7).
"And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2).
"This is a true saying, If a man desire
the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop [elder] then must be
blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to
hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy
lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own
house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know
not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) not
a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the
devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he
fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be
grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first
be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being
found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 3:1-13).
"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. . . . Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Tim. 4:12-16).
"For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: if any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake" (Titus 1:5-11).
"But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine. . . . In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you" (Titus 2:1, 7, 8).
The Church Must be Guarded and Fed The apostle Paul in his administrative work called together "the elders of the church" (Acts 20:17). He then counseled them: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears" (Acts 20:28-31).
"The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a
witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall
be revealed: feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight
thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of
a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock" (1 Peter 5:1-3).
Respect and Deference Due to Ministers and Officers of the Church "And, we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves" (1 Thess. 5:12, 13).
"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine" (1 Tim. 5:17).
"Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation." "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you" (Heb. 13:7, 17).
"The Thessalonian believers were greatly annoyed by men coming among them with fanatical ideas and doctrines. Some were --disorderly, working not at all, but . . . busybodies.' The church had been properly organized, and officers had been appointed to act as ministers and deacons. But there were some, self-willed and impetuous, who refused to be subordinate to those who held positions of authority in the church. They claimed not only the right of private judgment, but that of publicly urging their views upon the church. In view of this, Paul called the attention of the Thessalonians to the respect and deference due to those who had been chosen to occupy positions of authority in the church." The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 261, 262.
"Many do not realize the sacredness of church relationship and are loath to submit to restraint and discipline. Their course of action shows that they exalt their own judgment above that of the united church, and they are not careful to guard themselves lest they encourage a spirit of opposition to its voice. Those who hold responsible positions in the church may have faults in common with other people and may err in their decisions; but notwithstanding this, the church of Christ on earth has given to them an authority that cannot be lightly esteemed." Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 17.
Not to be Hurried Into Office "In many places we meet men
who have been hurried into responsible positions as elders of the church when
they are not qualified for such a position. They have not proper government over
themselves. Their influence is not good. The church is in trouble continually in
consequence of the defective character of the leader. Hands
have been laid too suddenly upon these men." Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 406, 407.
"The apostle Paul writes to Titus: --Set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: if any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot, or unruly. For a bishop [elder] must be blameless, as the steward of God.' It would be well for all our ministers to give heed to these words and not to hurry men into office without due consideration and much prayer that God would designate by His Holy Spirit whom He will accept.
"Said the inspired apostle: --Lay hands suddenly on no man.' In some of our churches the work of organizing and of ordaining elders has been premature; the Bible rule has been disregarded, and consequently grievous trouble has been brought upon the church. There should not be so great haste in electing leaders as to ordain men who are in no way fitted for responsible work . . . ." Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 617.
Those Opposed to Unity Not Suitable for Office "There have of late arisen among us men who profess to be the servants of Christ, but whose work is opposed to that unity which our Lord established in the church. They have original plans and methods of labor. They desire to introduce changes into the church to suit their ideas of progress and imagine that grand results are thus to be secured. These men need to be learners rather than teachers in the school of Christ. They are ever restless, aspiring to accomplish some great work, to do something that will bring honor to themselves. They need to learn that most profitable of all lessons, humility and faith in Jesus. . . .
"Teachers of the truth, missionaries, officers in the church, can do a good work for the Master if they will but purify their own souls by obeying the truth. . . . As members of the body of Christ all believers are animated by the same spirit and the same hope. Divisions in the church dishonor the religion of Christ before the world and give occasion to the enemies of truth to justify their course. Paul's instructions were not written alone for the church in his day. God designed that they should be sent down to us." Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 238, 239.
Unsafe to Choose Those Who Refuse to Cooperate With Others
"God has placed in the church, as His appointed helpers, men of varied
talents, that through the combined wisdom of many the mind of the Spirit may be
met. Men who move in accordance with their own strong traits of character,
refusing to yoke up with others who have had a long experience in the work of
God, will become blinded by self-confidence, unable to discern between the false
and the true. It is not safe for such ones
to be chosen as leaders in the church; for they would follow their own judgment and plans, regardless of the judgment of their brethren. It is easy for the enemy to work through those who, themselves needing counsel at every step, undertake the guardianship of souls in their own strength, without having learned the lowliness of Christ." The Acts of the Apostles, p. 279. (See p. 53.)
Membership Required for Election
Seventh-day Adventist church members in regular standing are eligible for election to leadership positions in the local church where they hold membership. (See pp. 144, 146.) Exceptions may be made for the following:
1. Students who are members in regular standing but who, for purposes of education, live away from their normal home and regularly attend a church in the area of their temporary residence.
2. A conference/mission/field employee assigned by the conference/ mission/field as pastor/leader for two or more congregations. (See p. 137.)
3. A local elder who, when necessary and with the recommendation of the conference/mission/field committee, may be elected to serve in more than one church. (See p. 51.)
Other exceptions may be considered by the conference/mission/field committee.
Term of Office
The term of office for officers of the church and auxiliary organizations shall be one year, except where the local church in a business meeting votes to have elections every two years in order to facilitate continuity and development of spiritual gifts and eliminate the work involved in having yearly elections. While it is not advisable for one person to serve indefinitely in a particular position, officers may be reelected.
The Church Elder
The Office an Important One In the work and organization of the church, if a pastor has not been provided by the conference/mission/field, the office of elder ranks as the highest and most important. In the preceding paragraphs the moral and religious fitness of elders as well as other church officers has been set forth.
A Religious Leader of the Church The local elder must be one recognized by the church as a strong religious and spiritual leader, and must have a good reputation "with them that are without." In the absence of a pastor, the elder is the religious leader of the church and by precept and example must continually seek to lead the church into a deeper and fuller Christian experience.
Capable of Ministering the Word The elder should be capable of conducting services of the church. It is not always possible for the conference/mission/field to supply ministerial help for all the churches; consequently the elder must be prepared to minister in word and doctrine. However, the elder should not be chosen primarily because of social position, or because of speaking ability, but rather because of a consecrated life and leadership ability. This should be taken into consideration by the nominating committee in preparing its report at the time of the church election.
Term of Office Like all other church officers, the elder is elected for a one or two year term as determined by the local church. (See p. 47.) It is not advisable for one person to serve indefinitely, but the elder may be reelected. The church is under no obligation, however, to reelect, but may choose another for eldership whenever a change seems advisable. Upon the election of a new elder, the former elder no longer functions as elder, but may be elected to any other church office.
Ordination of Local Elder Election to the office of elder does not in itself qualify one as an elder. Ordination is required before an elder has authority to function in that office. During the interim between election and ordination, the elected elder may function as church leader but not administer the ordinances of the church.
The ordination service is only performed by an ordained minister with credentials from the local conference/mission/field. It may be a courtesy to invite a visiting ordained minister to assist in the ordination. However, only on the specific request of the local conference/mission/field officers would a visiting ordained minister or a retired ordained minister conduct the ordination.
The sacred rite of ordination should be simply performed in the presence of
the church and may include a brief outline of the office of elder, the qualities
required, and the principal duties the elder will be authorized to perform for
the church. After the exhortation, the minister, assisted by other ordained
ministers and/or local ordained elders who are participating in
the service, will ordain the elder by prayer and the laying on of hands. (See p. 200.) Having once been ordained as a church elder, ordination is not required again upon reelection to office as an elder, or upon election as elder of another church, provided that regular standing in the church has been maintained. One who has been ordained as elder is thereby qualified to serve subsequently in the deaconate office.
Training and Equipping of Local Elders The Ministerial Association, in cooperation with the departments, promotes the training and equipping of local church elders. However, the pastor has the primary responsibility for training the local elder. (See Notes, #1, p. 63.)
Work of Church Elder Is Local The authority and work of an ordained local elder are confined to the church in which the election has been made. It is not permissible for a conference/mission/field committee by vote to confer on a local church elder the status which is granted to an ordained minister to serve other churches as elder. If there exists the need for such service, the conference/mission/field committee may recommend to the church or churches requiring the services of the elder of another church that they elect and invite the elder of the nearby church to serve them also. Thus by election one individual may, when necessary, serve more than one church at a time. When such an arrangement is made it should be in counsel with the conference/mission/field committee. However, this authority is inherent in the church and not in the conference/mission/field committee. The only way one may be qualified for serving the church at large is by ordination to the gospel ministry. (See p. 4949 below.)
To Foster All Lines of Church Work Under the pastor and in the absence of a pastor, the local elder is a spiritual leader of the church and is responsible for fostering all departments and activities of the work. The elder should maintain a mutually helpful relationship with all other church officers.
Relationship to the Ordained Minister In a case where the
conference/mission/field committee assigns an ordained minister to labor as a
pastor of a church, he should be considered as the ranking officer, and the
local elder as his assistant. Their work is closely related; they should
therefore work together harmoniously. The minister should not gather to himself
all lines of responsibility, but should share these with the local elder and
other officers. The minister serving the church regularly as pastor acts as the
chairman of the church board. (See pp. 83,
There may be circumstances, however, when it would be advisable for the elder to
this capacity. The pastoral work of the church should be shared by both. The elder should, in counsel with the minister, assist in the pastoral responsibility, which includes visiting the church members, ministering to the sick, arranging or leading out in anointing services and child dedications, and encouraging those who are disheartened. Too much emphasis cannot be placed on this part of an elder's work, who as an undershepherd should exercise a constant vigilance over the flock. If the appointed pastor is a licensed minister, the local church or churches that he serves should elect him as an elder. (See p. 137.)
Because the pastor is appointed to the position in the local church by the conference/mission/field, he serves the church as a conference/mission/field worker, and is responsible to the conference/mission/field committee, yet he maintains a sympathetic and cooperative relation to and works in harmony with all the plans and policies of the local church. The elder having been elected by the local church is naturally responsible to that body, and also to its board. (See p. 49.)
Conduct of Church Services Under the pastor, or in the absence of a pastor, the elder is responsible for the services of the church and must either conduct them or arrange for someone to do so. The communion services must always be conducted by an ordained minister or by the elder. Only ordained ministers or ordained elders holding office are qualified to do this.The pastor usually serves as chairman of the business meeting, and in his absence the elder shall officiate as chairperson.
The Baptismal Service In the absence of an ordained pastor, the elder shall request the president of the conference/mission/field to arrange for the administration of the rite of baptism to those desiring to unite with the church. (See pp. 32-35.) A local church elder should not officiate in the baptismal service without first obtaining permission from the conference/ mission/field president.
The Marriage Ceremony In the marriage ceremony the charge, vows, and declaration of marriage are given only by an ordained minister except in those areas where division committees have taken action to approve that selected licensed or commissioned ministers who have been ordained as local elders may perform the marriage ceremony. (See pp. 137, 138.) Either an ordained minister, licensed or commissioned minister, or a local elder may officiate in delivering the sermonette, offering the prayer, or in giving the blessing. (See Notes, #2, p. 63.)
To Cooperate With the Conference/Mission/Field The pastor, elder(s), and all church officers should cooperate with the conference/mission/field officers and departmental directors in carrying out local, union, division, and General Conference plans. They should inform the church of all regular and special offerings, and should promote all the programs and activities of the church.
The elder should work very closely with the church treasurer and see that all conference/mission/field funds are remitted promptly to the conference/mission/field treasurer at the time established by the conference/ mission/field. The elder should give personal attention to seeing that the church clerk's report is sent promptly to the conference/mission/field secretary at the close of each quarter.
The elder should regard all correspondence from the conference/ mission/field office as important. Letters calling for announcements to the church should be presented at the proper time.
The first elder, in the absence of and in cooperation with the pastor, should see that delegates to conference/mission sessions are elected and that the names of such delegates are sent to the conference/mission office by the clerk.
The elder should give counsel and help to officers in the church to measure up to their responsibilities in cooperating with the conference/ mission/field in carrying out plans and policies, and in seeing that reports are accurately and promptly forwarded.
To Foster Worldwide Work Another important feature of the elder's work is to foster world mission work. This should be done by making a careful study of the worldwide work and presenting its needs to the church. The elder should encourage members to take a personal part in both supporting and working for the cause of missions. A kindly, tactful attitude on the part of the elder will do much to encourage liberality on the part of the church members both in the regular church services and in the Sabbath School.
To Foster Tithing As one who faithfully returns tithe, the elder can do much to encourage the church members to return a faithful tithe. (See pp. 153-155, 211.) Anyone who fails to set an example in this important matter should not be elected to the position of elder or to any other church office. Tithing can be fostered by public presentation of the scriptural privilege and responsibility of stewardship and by personal labor with the members. Such labor should be carried on in a tactful and helpful manner. The elder should regard all financial matters pertaining to church members as confidential and should not place such information in the hands of unauthorized persons.
To Distribute Responsibility In the distribution of duties pertaining to church activities, care should be taken not to lay too much responsibility upon willing workers, while others with perhaps lesser talents are passed by. The election of one individual to several offices is to be discouraged unless circumstances make it necessary. The elder especially should be left free from other burdens to perform effectually the many duties of this sacred office. It may be advisable in some cases to ask the elder to lead the outreach (missionary) work of the church, but even this should be avoided if other talent is available.
First Elder In churches with a large membership it is advisable to choose more than one elder. The burdens of office may be too great for one person, and should be shared by as many as are required to do the work. In such event one of them should be designated as "first elder." The work should be divided among the elders in harmony with their experience and ability.
Elder Not a Delegate Ex Officio In order to serve as a delegate to the conference/mission session, the elder must be elected as a delegate by the church. An elder is not a delegate ex officio.
Limitation of Authority An elder does not have the authority to receive or dismiss church members. This is done only by vote of the church. The elder and the church board may recommend that the church vote to receive or dismiss members. (See pp. 34, 35, 38.)
Occasionally in newly organized churches, and sometimes in older ones, there is no one possessing the necessary experience and qualifications to serve as elder. Under such circumstances the church should elect a person to be known as "leader." In the absence of a minister the leader is responsible for the services of the church, including the business meetings. The leader must either conduct these or arrange for someone else to do so. A church leader may not preside at any of the church ordinances, administer baptism, conduct the Lord's Supper, perform the marriage ceremony, or preside at business meetings when members are disciplined. A request should be made to the conference/mission/field president for an ordained minister to preside at such meetings.
The office of deacon is described in the New Testament (1 Tim. 3:8-13) where the Greek word diakonos is used from which the English "deacon" is derived. The Greek word is variously interpreted as "servant, minister, writer, attendant" and in Christian circles acquired the specialized meaning now attached to "deacon." Scripture clearly endorses the office in the New Testament church: "They that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 3:13). On this authority, the church elects some of its members to serve in eminently practical ways, caring for several aspects of church services, as well as for church property.
The deacon is elected to office, serving for a term of one or two years as determined by the local church. (See p. 47.)
Importance of the Office In the account of the choosing of the men who came to be known as the seven deacons of the apostolic church, as recorded in Acts 6:1-8, we are told that they were chosen and ordained to attend to the "business" of the church.
But the call to the office of deacon included more than caring for the business of the fast-growing Christian community. The deacons were engaged in an important part of the Lord's work, demanding qualifications but slightly less exacting than those of an elder. (See 1 Tim. 3:8-13.) "The fact that these brethren had been ordained for the special work of looking after the needs of the poor, did not exclude them from teaching the faith. On the contrary, they were fully qualified to instruct others in the truth, and they engaged in the work with great earnestness and success." The Acts of the Apostles, p. 90. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and Philip, afterward called "the evangelist," were among the first seven deacons chosen in the Christian church (Acts 6:5, 6; 8:5-26; 21:8).
This inspired arrangement resulted in great progress in the building up of the work of the early church. "The appointment of the seven to take the oversight of special lines of work, proved a great blessing to the church. These officers gave careful consideration to individual needs as well as to the general financial interests of the church, and by their prudent management and their godly example they were an important aid to their fellow officers in binding together the various interests of the church into a united whole." The Acts of the Apostles, p. 89.
The appointment of deacons in the present-day church through election by the
church brings similar blessings in church administration by relieving pastors,
elders, and other officers of duties that may well be performed by deacons.
"The time and strength of those who in the providence of God have
been placed in leading positions of responsibility in the church, should be spent in dealing with the weightier matters demanding special wisdom and largeness of heart. It is not in the order of God that such men should be appealed to for the adjustment of minor matters that others are well qualified to handle." The Acts of the Apostles, p. 93.
Board of Deacons Where a church has a sufficient number of deacons to warrant the formation of a board of deacons it is well to organize such a board, with the head deacon as chairman and with another deacon serving as secretary. Such a body affords a well-ordered means of distributing responsibility and coordinates deacon contributions to the well-being of the church. It also provides a training ground where younger men, rightly recruited as deacons, may be instructed in their duties. The head deacon is a member of the church board.
Deacons Must be Ordained A newly elected deacon cannot fill his office until he has been set apart by an ordained minister who holds current credentials from the conference/mission/field.
The sacred rite of ordination should be simply performed in the presence of the church by an ordained minister, and may consist of a brief reference to the office of deacon, the qualities required of such a servant of the church, and the principal duties he will be authorized to perform for the church. After a short exhortation to faithfulness in service, the minister, assisted by an elder where appropriate, ordains the deacon by prayer and the laying on of hands. (See p. 200.) If he has been once ordained as deacon, and has maintained his membership, it is not necessary for him to be ordained again even though he has transferred to another church. When the term for which he was elected expires, he must be reelected if he is to continue to serve as deacon. Should one who has been ordained as elder be elected as deacon of a church, it is not necessary for him to be ordained as deacon; his ordination as elder covers this office.
Deacons Not Authorized to Preside The deacon is not authorized to preside at any of the ordinances of the church, nor can he perform the marriage ceremony. He may not preside at any of the business meetings of the church, neither may he officiate at the reception or transfer of members. Where a church has no one authorized to perform such duties, the church shall contact the conference/mission/field for assistance.
The Duties of Deacons The work of the deacons involves a wide range of practical services for the church including:
1. Assistance at Services and Meetings At church services, the
deacons are usually responsible for welcoming members and visitors as they enter the church, and for assisting them, where necessary, to find seats. They also stand ready to cooperate with pastor and elders for the smooth functioning of the meetings conducted in the church.
2. Visitation of Members An important duty belonging to deacons is that of visiting church members in their homes. (See p. 56.) In many churches this is arranged by a distribution of membership by districts, assigning a deacon to each district, with the expectation that he will visit each home at least once a quarter.
3. Preparation for Baptismal Services The deacons should do their part in making the necessary preparations for this service; there should be no confusion or delay. (See p. 35.) (See Notes, #3, p. 63.)
4. Assistance at the Communion Service At the celebration of the ordinance of foot-washing, the deacons or deaconesses provide everything that is needed for the service, such as: towels, basins, water (at a comfortable temperature as the occasion may require), buckets, et cetera. After the service they should see that the vessels and linen used are washed and returned to their proper place.
Following the Lord's Supper, great care should be exercised in disposing of any bread or wine left over after all have partaken of these emblems. Any wine remaining that was blessed, is to be poured out. Any of the bread remaining which was blessed should be burned.
5. The Care of the Sick and the Poor Another important responsibility of deacons is the care of the sick, relieving the poor, and aiding the unfortunate. Money should be provided for this work from the church fund for the needy. The treasurer, on recommendation from the church board, will pass over to the deacons or deaconesses whatever may be needed for use in needy cases. This work is the particular charge of the deacons and the deaconesses, but the church is to be kept fully acquainted with the needs, in order to enlist the membership's support.
6. Care and Maintenance of Church Property In some churches, where the responsibility for the care and maintenance of the church property is not assigned to a building committee, the deacons have this responsibility. (See Notes, #4, p. 63.)
Deaconesses were included in the official staff of the early Christian churches. "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae, that you may receive her in the Lord as befits the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a helper of many and of myself as well" (Rom. 16:1, 2, RSV).
The deaconess is elected to office, serving for a term of one or two years as determined by the local church. (See p. 47.) It does not follow that the wife of a man chosen as deacon thereby becomes a deaconess, nor is it incumbent upon a church to choose the wife of a deacon as deaconess because her husband is a deacon. The deaconess is to be chosen from the standpoint of consecration and other qualifications that fit her to discharge the duties of the office. The church may arrange for a suitable service of induction for the deaconess by an ordained minister holding current credentials.
The Duties of Deaconesses Deaconesses serve the church in a wide variety of important activities including:
1. Assistance at Baptisms Deaconesses assist at the baptismal services, ensuring that female candidates are cared for both before and after the ceremony. They also give such counsel and help as may be necessary regarding suitable garments for baptism. Robes of suitable material should be provided. Where robes are used, the deaconesses should see that they are laundered and carefully set aside for future use. (See p. 35.)
2. Arrangements for the Communion Service The deaconesses assist in the ordinance of foot-washing, giving special aid to women visitors or those who have newly joined the church. It is the duty of the deaconesses to arrange everything needed for this service, such as seeing that the table linen, towels, et cetera, used in the celebration of ordinances, are laundered and carefully stored. (See p. 76.)
The deaconesses make arrangements for the communion table including: preparing the bread and wine, arranging the ordinance table, pouring the wine, placing the plates of unleavened bread, and covering the table with the linen provided for that purpose. All these matters should be cared for before the service begins.
3. The Care of the Sick and the Poor Deaconesses are to do their part in caring for the sick, the needy, and the unfortunate, cooperating with the deacons in this work. (See p. 55.)
Board of Deaconesses Where several deaconesses have been elected, a board of deaconesses should be formed, with the head deaconess serving as chairperson and another as secretary. This board is authorized to assign duties to individual deaconesses, and cooperates closely with the board of deacons, especially in welcoming members and visitors and in home visitation. (See pp. 54,55.)
The Church Clerk
An Important Office The clerk of the church has one of the important church offices, upon the proper administration of which much of the efficient functioning of the church depends. Like all other church officers, the church clerk is elected for a one or two year term as determined by the local church (See p. 47.); but because of the important and specialized functions of this office, it is wise to choose one who can be reelected to repeated terms to provide continuity in record keeping and reporting. In large churches assistant clerks may be elected as needed. The clerk serves as the secretary of all the business meetings of the church and should keep a correct record of all such meetings. If for any reason the clerk must be absent from any meeting, arrangements should be made for the assistant to be present to take the minutes of the proceedings. (See Notes, #5, p. 64.)
No Names Added or Removed Without Vote of the Church There must always be a vote of the church to add or remove a name from the church membership roll, except in the case of the death of a member. No name is to be added or removed on the action of the church board alone. The clerk has no authority to add or remove names from the church list without a vote of the church. When a member dies the clerk should, at an early date, record the date of the death opposite the name in the membership book. (See p. 41.)
Transferring Members The church clerk handles the correspondence between individual members and churches in the transferring of church membership. (See pp. 35-38.)
Corresponding With Members The clerk should endeavor to keep in touch with absent members by correspondence. (See Notes, #6, p. 64.)
Delegates' Credentials for Conference/Mission Session The clerk, on authorization of the church board, issues credentials for all delegates elected to represent the church at any session of the local conference/mission and sends them promptly to the conference/mission secretary. All blanks for records, reports, credentials, church letters, et cetera, are provided by the conference/mission/field office. (See pp. 148, 149.)
Reports to be Furnished Promptly It is the duty of the church
clerk to furnish promptly certain reports. Some of these are annual, while
others are quarterly. It is essential that they be sent to the
conference/mission/field secretary within the time specified as these reports
are important for the
accuracy of reports prepared by other organizations of the world church. The information required for these reports is to be secured from the treasurer, the Personal Ministries secretary, the deacon, the Sabbath School secretary, the Adventist Youth Society secretary, the church school teacher, and from the clerk's own records. (See Notes, #7, p. 64.)
Church Records The church clerk is the keeper of the church records. These should be carefully preserved. All records and account books of the various church officers are the property of the church; they are to be surrendered to the newly elected clerk at the expiration of the term of office, or to the church at any time during the term on request of the pastor or elder.
The Church Treasurer
A Sacred Work The treasurer is called to an important task and is elected as are other officers for a one or two year term as determined by the local church. (See p. 47.) In large churches it may be deemed advisable to elect assistant treasurers as needed.
The treasurer can greatly encourage faithfulness in the returning of tithe and deepen the spirit of liberality on the part of the church members. A word of counsel given in the spirit of the Master will help the brother or sister to render faithfully to God His own in tithes and offerings, even in a time of financial stringency.
Church Treasurer the Custodian of All Church Funds The church treasurer is the custodian of all church funds. These funds are (1) conference/mission/field funds, (2) local church funds, and (3) funds belonging to the auxiliary organizations of the local church.
All funds (conference/mission/field, local church, and local church auxiliary) are deposited by the treasurer in a bank or financial institution account in the name of the church, unless the local conference/mission/field authorizes another system. This is a separate bank account which is not to be combined with any personal account. Surplus church funds may be deposited in savings accounts upon authorization of the church board. Where large balances are carried for building or special projects, the church board may authorize separate bank accounts. Such accounts, however, shall be operated by the treasurer.
Conference/Mission/Field Funds Conference/Mission/Field funds,
which include tithe, all regular mission funds, and all funds for special
conference/mission/field projects and institutions, are trust funds. At the
close of each month, or more often if requested by the conference/mission/
field, the church treasurer shall send to the conference/mission/field treasurer the entire amount of conference/mission/field funds received during that period of time. The church may not borrow, use, or withhold such conference/mission/field funds for any purpose.
Sabbath School Funds All Sabbath School offerings for missions are to be passed over to the church treasurer by the Sabbath School secretary-treasurer weekly, the church treasurer keeping a careful record of all such offerings. These mission funds are transmitted to the conference/mission/field office as outlined on pages 58-62 of this Church Manual. Sabbath School expense funds are to be passed over to the church treasurer weekly, to be held in trust, subject to the orders of the Sabbath School Council (See p. 96.), to meet the routine expenses of the Sabbath School.
Adventist Youth Society Funds Adventist Youth Society (AYS) funds have to do with both the Adventist Youth (AY) and the Adventist Junior Youth (AJY) Societies, and the funds of each society shall be kept separately on the church treasurer's books. Society offerings to missions and general church work or to conference/mission/field enterprises shall be handed to the church treasurer as soon as possible after they are received, to be forwarded to the conference/mission/field treasurer. All funds contributed to society expense shall be given promptly to the church treasurer, to be held in trust for the society.
The expense funds of the AY Society shall be disbursed by the church treasurer on the order of the Adventist Youth Society Committee. (See pp. 102, 103.) Expense funds of the AJY Society shall be disbursed on the order of the AJY Society leader.
Local Church Funds Local church funds include such funds as church expense, church building and repair funds, and the church fund for the poor and needy. These funds belong to the local church and are disbursed by the treasurer only by authorization of the church board or church business meetings. However, the church treasurer shall pay from the church expense funds all bills for local church expense authorized by the church board, such as rentals, janitor, water, light, fuel, insurance, paving assessments, et cetera. The treasurer should be careful to secure receipts for all bills paid.
Funds of Auxiliary Organizations Auxiliary organization funds
include such funds as church outreach programs, welfare, family life, Adventist
Youth Society, Dorcas Society, Sabbath School expense, and that portion of the
health ministries funds belonging to the church, and may
include church school funds. All money received by and for these organizations is turned over promptly to the church treasurer by the secretary of the organization or by the deacons. These funds belong to the auxiliary organizations of the church. They may be disbursed only by order of the auxiliary organization to which they belong.
The treasurer shall give receipts for all funds received including those deposited by any of the subsidiary organizations of the church. On receiving money from the church treasurer, the secretary of such organization shall give a proper receipt to the treasurer.
Safeguarding the Purpose of Funds When an offering is taken for worldwide missions or for any general or local enterprise, all money placed in the offering plate (unless otherwise indicated by the donor) shall be counted as part of that particular offering. It is of the utmost importance that all offerings and gifts contributed by individuals to the church for a specific fund or purpose be used for that purpose. Neither the church treasurer nor the church board has the authority to divert any funds from the objective for which they were given.
The funds of auxiliary organizations, a considerable proportion of which often represents donations given for specific purposes, are raised for that special part of the church's work for which the auxiliary organization is established. Such funds are held in trust by the church treasurer and they too may not be borrowed or in any way diverted by the treasurer or the church board from the objective for which they were raised.
When an auxiliary organization is discontinued, the church in regular business session may take action indicating the disposition of any remaining balance of funds in the account of such auxiliary organization.
Money for Personal Literature Orders Money for personal orders of literature, books, pamphlets, magazines, and subscriptions for periodicals is cared for by the church treasurer in areas where a local Adventist Book Center does not exist. (See Notes, #8, p. 64.)
Proper Method for Payment of Money by Members The treasurer should urge that all money paid in by church members, other than the regular church collection, be placed in the tithe and offering envelopes, instructing each member to list the various items and amounts on the envelope as indicated, and to make sure that the money enclosed equals the total shown. Members should sign their name and give their address, and place the envelope on the offering plate or hand it to the treasurer, who should preserve such envelopes to serve as vouchers until all accounts are checked by the conference/mission/field auditor.
The members who return their tithes and offerings by check or postal notes should, wherever legally possible, make such checks or notes payable to the church, rather than to any individual.
Receipts to Church Members Receipts should be issued promptly for all money received, no matter how small the amount, and a strict account of all receipts and payments should be kept by the church treasurer. All general offerings not in the envelopes should be counted by the treasurer in the presence of another church officer, preferably a deacon, and a receipt given to such officer.
Proper Method of Remitting Funds to the Conference/Mission/ Field In sending remittances to the conference/mission/field treasurer, all checks, bank drafts, or money orders should be made payable to the organization wherever legally possible and not to any individual. The duplicate sheet from the church treasurer's book should be enclosed with the remittance. Remittance blanks are furnished by the conference/mission/field.
Preservation of Financial Documents Financial documents, vouchers, or receipted bills should be secured for all funds received and disbursed in accordance with the system authorized by the local conference/mission/field.
Books Should be Audited The conference/mission/field treasurer, or some other individual appointed by the conference/mission/field committee, audits the church financial records, usually each year. The church treasurer's books and other financial records relating to the work of the church treasurer, the church school treasurer, and the treasurer of any other organization, may be called for and inspected at any time by the conference/ mission/field auditor or by the pastor, district leader, leading church elder, or by any others authorized by the church board, but should not be made available to unauthorized persons. (See p. 160.)
Reports of all funds received and disbursed should be presented at the regular business meetings of the church. A copy of these reports should be given to the leading church officers.
When the number of individuals returning tithe in the church is reported, the wife and minor children who are non-wage earners but are members of the church should be counted in this group, in addition to the head of the family when the individual is known to be faithful in this respect.
Relations With Members Confidential The treasurer should always remember that relations with individual members are strictly confidential. The treasurer should be careful never to comment on the tithe returned by any member or of the income or anything concerning it, except to those who share the responsibility of the work. Great harm may be caused by failure to observe this rule.
It is important that the many interests developed through the church's missionary outreach be cared for promptly. To this end, an interest coordinator, who may be an elder, should be elected at the time of the election of church officers. (See p. 47.) This person is a member of the church board and the Personal Ministries Council and works directly with the pastor and chairperson of that council. The duties involved in this office include:
1. To keep an organized list of all interests received by the church from every source such as Community Services, Ingathering, public evangelism, Bible studies, lay preaching and witnessing contacts, outreach (missionary) magazines, Sabbath School evangelism, literature evangelism, temperance and health evangelism, radio-television, and church outreach (missionary) literature.
2. To assist the pastor and chairperson of the Personal Ministries Council in the enlistment and recruitment of qualified laity for follow-up service.
3. To render to the church board a monthly report on the number of interests received and the number followed up. When an interest is sufficiently developed, it should be shared with the pastor.
A Church Officer Removed from Church Membership
When a church officer is removed from membership in the church and is subsequently readmitted to church membership, this action does not reinstate the individual to the former office.
All newly elected officers of the local church may be included in a service of induction conducted by a minister holding a current license or credential. (See p. 122.) If no minister is available, an ordained elder of the local church may conduct the induction service.
These notes contain explanatory material regarding how a local church may proceed in a particular matter. A local church may adopt alternate ways of handling such items. Such alternative methods should be in harmony with generally accepted principles of Seventh-day Adventist Church organization and operation.
1. Training and Equipping of Local Elders (See p. 49.) While the pastor has the primary responsibility for training local elders, conferences/ missions/fields are encouraged to schedule periodic meetings designed for training them. In order to support a pastor-elder team relationship it is recommended that pastors also attend these meetings. Leaders of companies who function in the place of local elders should also be invited to attend.
2. The Marriage Ceremony (See p. 50.) In some countries or states a minister must be legally appointed and registered in order to conduct the marriage service. In many lands the minister may perform the ceremony in the church, but the marriage contract is legally signed by the district registrar, who usually sits in the vestry and listens to the approved form of marriage declaration. In still other lands, the minister cannot perform the ceremony at all, for it is recognized as a state responsibility and is looked upon as a civil contract. In such cases our members usually retire to the home or place of worship, where a special service is conducted by a minister, to seek the blessing of the Lord upon the couple. (See pp. 172-174, 191-198.)
3. Preparation for Baptismal Services (See p. 55.) The deacons should assist at baptismal services, ensuring that the baptism site is prepared, and that male candidates are cared for both before and after the ceremony.
4. Care and Maintenance of Church Property (See p. 55.)
It is the deacons' duty to see that the building is kept clean and in repair,
and that the grounds upon which the church stands are kept clean and made
attractive. This also includes ensuring that the janitorial work is done. In
large churches it is often necessary to employ a janitor. The deacons should
recommend a suitable person to the church board, which takes action by vote to
employ such help, or the church board may authorize the deacons
to employ a janitor. Church board authorization should be obtained for all major repair expenses. All bills for repairs, as well as for water, light, fuel, et cetera, are referred to the church treasurer for payment.
5. An Important Office (See p. 57.) These minutes should be recorded in the Church Record book, or in another appropriate record system adopted by the church, giving the time and date of meeting, number attending, and a report of all actions taken. The clerk should also make a list of any committees appointed at such meetings, giving to the chairperson a list of the members of each committee, together with its terms of reference and an outline of work it is asked to do. The Church Record book may be secured from the Adventist Book Center or, in some countries, from the publishing house.
This Church Record book contains a place for recording the church membership, giving the columns necessary to show how and when members are received or removed. This record must be kept chronologically, and supporting data for each entry should also be recorded in the section where minutes of membership actions are kept. The church membership record must be accurately and currently maintained in order to show the official standing of the membership.
6. Corresponding With Members (See p. 57.) The church clerk should correspond with absent members and should pass on to them interesting items of church progress, encouraging them, in turn, to report their own Christian activities each quarter. It is desirable for the clerk to write to them frequently.
7. Reports to be Furnished Promptly (See p. 57.) Every item of information called for in the blanks should be supplied. Special attention should be given to the transfer of members, and members received or removed for various causes, as indicated by the blank. The conference/ mission/field secretary must report quarterly to the union conference/mission secretary, and the union conference/mission secretary must report to the division, and the division secretary to the General Conference office, relative to these important items; any omission or delay in the report seriously affects the work all along the way. Faithful attention to the details specified in the
report blanks greatly assists in keeping accurate records of the worldwide work of the church.
8. Money for Personal Literature Orders (See p. 60.)
In areas where a local Adventist Book Center does not exist, church members may
place their money for personal orders of literature, books, pamphlets, magazines, and subscriptions for periodicals in an envelope, with the order form properly filled out, and hand it to the Personal Ministries secretary. The treasurer then remits both order and payment for all such literature to the conference/mission/field Adventist Book Center, or to the publishing house according to the system adopted by the conference/mission/field. At the close of each quarter the Personal Ministries secretary will make a report to the church, at its quarterly business meeting, of the standing of its account with the Adventist Book Center and/or publishing house and shall provide a copy for the church treasurer. (See pp. 94, 124.)
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