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Commissioned Ruling Elders

Commissioned Ruling Elders

'Raising Up Leaders'
raising up leaders

In exploring together how larger churches can help to empower smaller, neighboring congregations, Bedford Central Presbyterian Church and Duryea Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., discovered an exciting new way to grow Christ’s church deep and wide by sharing resources for ministry. Key among those resources are the church’s leaders, especially Ted Hickman, a financial management executive and an elder at Bedford Central, who heard God’s call to go deeper into ministry by supplying Duryea’s pulpit. Hickman, a Commissioned Ruling Elder, has been instrumental in helping to turn the small, fragile Duryea church around. Not only has the partnership energized and renewed both congregations, it has strengthened Christ’s witness in the community. Length: 5:32

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What is a Commissioned Ruling Elder (formerly called "Commissioned Lay Pastor")?

When the presbytery, in consultation with the session or other responsible committee,  determines that its strategy for mission requires it, the presbytery may authorize a ruling elder to be commissioned to limited pastoral service as assigned by the presbytery. G-2.1001

What do Commissioned Ruling Elders do?

That varies a great deal from presbytery to presbytery and with particular ministries they serve.

CREs may be commissioned to a particular ministry to:

  • moderate the congregation
  • administer the Sacraments
  • officiate at marriages where permitted by state law

Some CREs serve:

  • clusters of churches as part of ministry teams
  • as part-time pastors of small churches
  • as pastor to new immigrant populations
  • as temporary leaders for churches seeking an ordained pastor
  • new worshipping communities
  • churches in transformation
  • in specialized pastoral ministries

How does a person become a Commissioned Ruling Elder?


An interested person:

  • must be a PCUSA ruling elder
  • contacts the presbytery to learn if the presbytery has a mission need for such service
  • talks with her/his pastor and session about CRE ministry
  • applies to the presbytery for acceptance into the program
  • participates in the training program required by the presbytery
  • is examined on faith, motives, and knowledge by a presbytery committee
  • works with the presbytery and validated ministry to establish a ministry relationship
  • is commissioned by the presbytery for a specified term up to 3 years
  • is supervised by a teaching elder as a mentor (G-2.1004)