What are church elders?
Elders are members of the congregation who have been chosen by their fellow members to share with the minister in the pastoral oversight and leadership of the church, meeting together in the monthly elders’ meeting and each having a small group of members entrusted to their pastoral care.
What is the pastoral list?
As part of their role elders accept pastoral care of their fellow members of the congregation, each elder taking especial care of a few families, visiting them, praying for and with them, and just ‘being there’ for them. If you are a member of this congregation and are unsure of who your elder is or would prefer to speak to another elder see our Who’s Who for a list of currently serving elders.
What do elders do?
Eldership is about servanthood not executive processes. Elders provide collective leadership through the elders meeting not authoritarian rule. At the monthly meetings, elders consider not only the pastoral care, communal worship and Christian education of the members, but also the practical maintenance of the church buildings, fabric and fittings, alongside our role in the local community and concerns for the environment and world issues.
The functions of eldership in the United Reformed Church have been laid down in the Basis of Union (the foundation documents of the URC) and can be found under section 2.2 of the structure of the church. The URC also lays down full details of the standards it expects of United Reformed Church elders.
Being an elder is a ministry to which you are called by God. This call can come through others because of what they discern about you and within you, and it can also be something which you feel within yourself. To find out more about Elders of the URC see the URC publication Called to be an Elder – is this you?
At Wheatley URC, elders generally serve for three years after which they will normally take at least a year ‘off’ to rest and reflect. They continue to be elders even though they are not currently serving. Each year about a third of serving elders will therefore retire from the eldership.
The process for determing who should be selected to replace those retiring begins in May when all members of our congregation are invited to prayerfully consider who they may think God is calling to serve in the role of elder. Anyone who attends the church can make a suggestion to the minister or a current elder, or complete a nomination slip. Those nominated may be non-serving elders or another member of the congregation. At their June meeting, the elders will, with God’s help, discern a number of people who they feel are being called to serve as elders at this time. These individuals are then approached to ascertain whether they are willing to serve. Finally at the Annual Church Meeting in July, these names are brought before the meeting in prayer for the whole church to determine the calling.
Elders are ordained into their ministry and once ordained, are elders in the United Reformed Church as a whole, not just our own congregation. If returning to the eldership as a serving elder, then an elder is inducted into that role.
Who are the current elders of Wheatley URC?
see our Who’s Who