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Keeping track of officers’ terms

Each year every Presbyterian church has to elect
new deacons, elders and trustees.

According to
the New Form of Government, “Ruling elders
and deacons shall be elected to serve terms
of no more than three years on the session or board of
deacons, and may be eligible for reelection according to
congregational rule. However, no ruling elder or deacon
shall be eligible to serve more than six consecutive years,
and a ruling elder or deacon who has served six consecutive
years shall be ineligible for election to the same board
for at least one year. Election shall be
to classes as nearly equal in number
as possible, with the term of only one
class ending each year.” (G-2.0404).
Nominations of officers are to be
made by a congregational nominating
committee. The guidelines have
changed somewhat in the New Form
of Government, i.e. “Ruling elders and
deacons shall be nominated by a committee
elected by the congregation,
drawn from and representative of its
membership. Congregations may provide
by their own rule for a congregational nominating
committee, provided that the committee shall consist of at
least three active members of the congregation, and shall
include at least one ruling elder who is currently serving on
the session.” (G-2.0401).

 

Despite these careful guidelines, many churches find
the job of keeping track of officers’ terms a big headache.
Many nominating committees and sessions spend frustrating
hours every year recalculating the terms of new officers.
There is a simple way to prevent these kinds of problems.
Although it is up to the local congregation to decide
when officers are elected, many churches do it during their
annual meeting in January. One method of maintaining
accurate records is to have terms end in January and new
ones begin in February. This prevents the inconvenience
of having the nominating committee do most of its work
during Advent and makes it unnecessary to have a special
meeting in December.

… If the church prints an up-to -date list of officers’ terms
in the annual report each year confusion is prevented and
the nominating committee can begin its work at the end
of the previous year without organizational distractions.
The chart can reflect the officers’ terms that are expiring,
which term each person is in, and who is in each class. It
also makes it clear immediately who is eligible for a second
term and who is not. The boards are divided into three current
classes, and a fourth one is listed which represents the
new officers about to be elected.

Officer Terms
Class Expires January 31, 2012
John Town 1st term
Deborah Smith 2nd term
Chris Frank 1st term
Class Expires January 31, 2013
Patricia Val 1st term
Ed Shaw 2nd term
Cheryl Cardinal 2nd term
Class Expires January 31, 2014
Carol King 1st term
Ralph Burg 2nd term
Linda Church 1st term
Class Expires January 31, 2015
Rickey Adams 1st term
Alicia Angel 1st term
John Town 2nd term

The list shows that Rickey and Alicia are being nominated
as new elders, John is being recommended for a second
term and, for some reason (something which may have to
be explained), Chris is not. Similar charts can be drawn up
for the deacons, trustees, and the Nominating Committee
for 2013.

EARL S. JOHNS ON JR. is
the pastor of First Church,
Johnstown, N.Y., and adjunct
professor of religious studies
at Siena College.

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