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Ruling Elders

Ruling Elders


“As there were in Old Testament times elders for the government of the people, so the New Testament church provided persons with particular gifts to share in discernment of God’s Spirit and governance of God’s people. Accordingly, congregations should elect persons of wisdom and maturity of faith, having demonstrated skills in leadership and being compassionate in spirit. Ruling elders are so named not because they “lord it over” the congregation (Matt. 20:25), but because they are chosen by the congregation to discern and measure its fidelity to the Word of God, and to strengthen and nurture its faith and life. Ruling elders, together with teaching elders, exercise leadership, government, spiritual discernment, and discipline and have responsibilities for the life of a congregation as well as the whole church, including ecumenical relationships.” 

serving as an elder in the midst of change

What does it mean to be a Ruling Elder in a rapidly changing church? What are the changes out there for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)? Leadership is even more important in a time of huge transition. Stated Clerk, Rev. Gradye Parsons, recorded earlier this year at a meeting sponsored by the PC(USA) Board of Pensions, responding to these issues. Click here to watch the video.

helpful resources


Ruling Elder Training

  • "Called to Discipleship: Preparing Church Officers for Leadership".  A complete training course used at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, MN in three parts: Part 1 Part 2 and Part 3
  • "El/La Anciano(a) Gobernante: Politica Presbyteriana" (Sesíon 1) facilitadora by Loyda Aja, Secretaria Permanente Asociada de la Asemblea General, IP(E.U.A.) y Anciana Gobernante.  Este taller en un recuentro de la politica Presbiteriana, su historia, teologia y la manera que este ministerio da vida a la congregacíon.  Descargar el material de la sesíon 1.
  • ¿Qué Creemos los Presbiterianos?” (Sesíon 2) facilitadora by Loyda Aja, Secretaria Permanente Asociada de la Asemblea General, IP(E.U.A.) y Anciana Gobernante. Descargar el material de la sesíon 2.
  • The Presbyterian Leader: An Online Resource Center for Presbyterian Leaders
  • "Themes of Reformed Theology and Polity". Download a chart for reference with discussion questions here.
  • "Confession Matching Game". Formatted cards to cut apart and use to match aspects of a creed to its title, available here.
  • "Discern and Measure". According to the Book of Order, ruling elders are ordained to "discern and measure" the fidelity of the congregation to the Word of God and to strengthen and nurture its faith and life. A workshop resource helping elders in this role is available here and here.
  • "The Ministry of Ruling Elders after Session Service". A workshop resource assisting ruling elders in their role after service on the session is available here and here.
Regarding Ruling Elders: A Monthly Series for Serving Faithfully
Ruling elders are called to ministry in partnership with teaching elders. Within this calling, ruling elders have responsibilities in several areas of the life of the church including exercise in leadership, governance, spiritual discernment, and discipline. This series seeks to lift up the specific responsibilities while also providing an opportunity to reflect upon how they are lived out.
사역 장로에 관하여: 신실한 섬김을 위한 월별 시리즈
사역 장로들은 교역 장로들과 협력하도록 사역으로 부름을 받는다. 이러한 부르심 안에서, 사역 장로들은 교회 생활의 여러 영역들에서 책임을 갖는다. 여기에는 리더십 발휘, 다스림, 영적 분별, 영적 훈련과 같은 것들이 포함된다. 이 시리즈는 이러한 특정한 책임들을 부각시키면서, 또한 그러한 책임있는 삶을 어떻게 살아갈 수 있는지를 음미해 볼 수 있는 기회들을 제공해 줄 것이다.
Con Respecto a los/as Ancianos/as Gobernantes: Una serie mensual para servir con fervor
Los/as Ancianos/as gobernantes son llamados al ministerio en colaboración con los/as ancianos/as docentes. Dentro de esta vocación, los/as ancianos/as gobernantes tienen responsabilidades en varias áreas en la vida de la iglesia, incluyendo el ejercicio de liderazgo, la gobernanza, el discernimiento espiritual y la disciplina. Esta serie busca elevar las responsabilidades específicas al mismo tiempo proporcionar una oportunidad para reflexionar sobre la forma en que se viven. 

News & Statements

  • Regarding Ruling Elders: Financial Responsibilities

    April 15, 2014

    [Korean] [Espanol] The Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) provides that ruling elders serving in a church council have “responsibility for the leadership, guidance, and government of that portion of the church that is under their jurisdiction,” so that all things will result in “the peace, purity, unity, and progress of the church under the will of Christ” (G-3.0102). In pursuit of this charge, ruling elders, among other matters, are to ensure that the administration of the church and its mission are enabled and strengthened such that the church can “give effective witness in the world to God’s new creation in Jesus Christ and … the mission of the triune God” (G-3.0106).

  • Regarding Ruling Elders: Worship Leadership

    • March 19, 2014
    • David Gambrell

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Ruling Elder Ministries is a new focus of the Office of General Assembly with the vision of providing support and training to the office of Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).