Church Officers

The Pastor, Elders and the Session

The word “Elder” is a term used for leadership in the New Testament (in the original Greek the word used is “Presbyter” so that’s why we use it here, as in “presbyterian” ). In 1 Timothy 5:17 it says, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose job is preaching and teaching.”

The Presbyterian Church is led by a board of Elders and the Minister through a board we call the Session. The Session doesn’t own the church or have a financial interest in the property but cares for the spiritual well being of the people.

One of the most important things that makes a Presbyterian church Presbyterian is that all of the leadership are elected by the members of the church. No one can serve without the approval of the people.

Most major decisions in a Presbyterian church are decided by way of a congregational meeting through which the members of the church guide its futures. It is a systems of church government by and for the people, guided by the Holy Spirit through the teaching of Bible.

The Pastor and one ruling Elder from each church represent the ministry as part of the Presbytery, the regional group that exists for the good and accountability of the ministers and entire churches. 

This came up in the Bible when, before Peter ordained church officers, he said, “Choose from among yourselves men of good reputation and full of the Holy Spirit and we will ordain them over you…” Peter as the Pastor of the church ordained the Elders and Deacons chosen and approved by the people.

We call the Elders elected from the congregation Ruling Elders as they’ve been granted spiritual authority. We say the Elders are “in session” when they sit to care for the affairs of the church. At Graceview our Elders serve on rotation for a term of years.

This seems to be the model that existed in the early church so we try to follow that biblical example:

“When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.” The apostles and elders met to consider this question.  After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.” Acts 15

This term we have Mark Paris, Gene Adams, Marty Smithhart and Howie Mays and Michael Fredman serving as Ruling Elders with Jerry Lyons and Jack Anthony serving in an Emeritus capacity.The Minister or “Pastor” (Pastor translates directly as “Shepherd” from Jesus being called the great Shepherd of the sheep) is an officer of the church found to have special gifts and training for the preaching and teaching God’s word. In the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church only trained, tested and approved men can be ordained to office as a Minister of the Gospel. He is to be called first by God and then by the members of the church but he must also be approved by the Presbytery which includes the other Pastors in a geographical region.

This is to make sure there is a high level of accountability in regard to the life and understanding of any man ordained to preach the Gospel. In this way every Pastor is also an Elder – but not every Elder is a Pastor. Every Apostle was a Pastor but not every Pastor is an Apostle, the age of the Apostles having now ceased. Our Pastor at Graceview is Christopher Neiswonger (you can read about Chris and his family on the previous page).

This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not an excessive drinker, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy. He must manage his own household competently and have his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and incur the same condemnation as the devil. Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the devil’s trap.” 1Timothy 3

This Church is part the old Presbyterian church (The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, descendants of the covenanters). We do not share common ancestry with the PCUSA. In holding to the old ways of our 2000 year history and common practice this church does not ordain ladies as elders or as ministers. We feel very comfortable getting together with you to talk about this if it is a matter of concern.

The Deacons

The Office of Deacon is vital to the ministry of the Church. Deacons are also elected by the congregation to serve three year terms and are responsible for the spiritual and physical needs of God’s people, the care of the poor, orphans and widows, church finances and the well being of the church properties as the house of God.

When they gather for official business we call them “the Diaconate”.

Our Deacons this term are Brandon Penninger, Reed F., Drew Tatum, Barry Jewel, Dan Cobb, Dan Marshall and Ryan Paris.

They do their work with excellence and serve the Lord in receiving the offerings to the house of worship, opening and closing the church for services and responding to requests for aid.

In 1 Timothy Chapter 3 the Apostle Paul writes,

“Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being blameless. Likewise, their wives be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Like the early deacons of Acts 6:1-4 they serve as if in the temple of the Lord.

We are thankful for these men and their service to the Lord.