We have been teaching and planning and discussing the proposed revision for over three years. If you do not have your copy (mailed April 4) with rationale and plan for transition, we will make some available near the church office. Give us (Deacons or Pastoral staff) whatever helpful input you can. The church will vote on December 12. Here is a summary of what I said Sunday Evening, September 9.
1. The revision aims to conform the governance structure more closely to biblical terms and functions. Specifically there would be a governing Council of Elders and an assisting body of deacons. In the present structure there are no leaders called elders, and deacons are the governing body of the church, unlike their role in the New Testament.
2. The revision aims to reduce the number of elected persons. Only the Council of Elders and the body of deacons would be elected by the congregation. In the present structure 13 officers, one council (24), three boards (27), a Bible school cabinet (9) and ten standing committees (72) are elected by the congregation. In a large church like ours it is no longer possible for the congregation to know so many candidates well enough to vote intelligently.
3. The revision aims to clarify the roles of pastoral staff in relation to the governance structure. Vocational pastors may serve as elders, and vocational ministers may serve as deacons if elected by the congregation. The present constitution provides for only one pastor who is ex-officio on all boards and committees as he chooses.
4. The revision aims at maximum flexibility and minimum structure. It is built on the conviction that ministry is not synonymous with office-holding. Governance exists to equip and free people for ever-changing ministry needs. Committees would be created and disbanded by the elders and deacons as the Holy Spirit led, to meet long term (Children's Education; Missions; Finance; etc.) and short term (summer ministries, 125th anniversary celebration, etc.) needs.
5. The revision aims to unite men and women in one body of deacons. We believe that God calls men to bear the primary leadership and teaching office in the church (elders) but that he calls both men and women to a broad array of ministries including the body of deacons elected by the congregation. In the present structure the main governing board is a Council of Deacons distinguished from a Committee of Deaconesses. The revision would replace the Council of Deacons with a Council of Elders, made up of men, and would create one body of deacons including both men and women. The deaconess committee would no longer exist.
6. The revision aims to lengthen the tenure of lay leaders so as to increase the depth and consistency of planning, and preserve the vision of the church through times of transition. In the present structure the governing Council of Deacons loses one third of its veteran members each year and must try to acquaint another third of new members with all the complicated issues that have been dealt with for years. It is difficult to work four years on an issue (like divorce and remarriage) when virtually all the leaders rotate off the council during that time. The revision allows for the congregation to affirm elders for repeated terms of three years indefinitely.
Excited with you about the future and the ministry and (most of all) the King,