ARP Form of Government: Deacons and the Diaconate

Full Text

DESCRIPTION AND QUALIFICATIONS OF A DEACON

5.1 The office of deacon as set forth in the Scriptures is ordinary and perpetual in the Church. The office of deacon is one of sympathy and service after the example of Christ.

5.2 To this office should be chosen individuals who are faithful and diligent Christians of good character, of honest repute, exemplary life, brotherly love, sympathetic nature, and sound judgment, who are qualified under the standards recorded in Scripture.

5.3 A deacon shall be a member in good standing of the congregation, actively sharing in the worship and service of the Church and giving particular emphasis to the duties of his office.

5.4 Unless otherwise determined by the Session, the Diaconate shall be chosen from male members of that congregation. The Session of each congregation shall determine whether women can serve as deacons in their own particular congregation. In either case, the Church shall not neglect the raising up of qualified men to serve in this position.

PURPOSE OF THE DIACONATE

5.5 It shall be responsible for the congregation’s ministry to those in material need or distress and all such things as can be covered by the term “mercy ministry.” The needs of those who are within the congregation shall be given first priority, and then those needs outside the congregation.

5.6 It shall also encourage practice of total stewardship among the members of the congregation, encouraging tithing in particular, a general spirit of liberality and hospitality towards their fellow saints as well as the world, and helping them to see that their possessions are a trust to keep before the Lord.

5.7 It shall plan, in collaboration with the Session, the causes toward which the offerings of the congregation shall be directed; devise effective methods for securing and receiving these offerings; secure and receive special offerings as directed by the Session and the higher courts of the Church; and see that all offerings are properly recorded and distributed.

5.8 It shall have the care of the general property of the congregation, both real and personal. In matters requiring extraordinary expenditure for acquisition, construction, or alteration of Church property, consent of the congregation is required.

5.9 The congregation shall seek to call those to be deacons who collectively demonstrate the gifts and calling necessary for such ministry.

ORGANIZATION OF THE DIACONATE

5.10 The deacons of a particular congregation shall be organized as a board, the Diaconate, of which the pastor and associate pastor(s) shall be advisory members, and of which the congregational treasurer shall be an advisory member when not otherwise a member thereof. The Diaconate shall elect a chairman and a secretary from among its own number. The secretary shall keep a record of the Diaconate’s proceedings and shall submit its minutes to the Session in a timely manner.

5.11 The congregational treasurer, who is entrusted with the regular offerings of the congregation, shall be responsible to the oversight of the Diaconate. A monthly financial report of the congregational treasurer shall be included in the minutes of the diaconate. An outside entity, someone not directly connected to the congregation, shall conduct a financial review to ensure full accuracy and disclosure of church finances. Such a review shall be paid out of the church’s funds, made part of the Sessional record, and made available to any member who wishes to view it. Such a review shall be conducted no less frequently than every third year.

PROCEDURE OF THE DIACONATE

5.12 The Diaconate shall normally hold one regular meeting each month (meeting no fewer than nine times per year).

5.13 The chairman shall call a meeting of the Diaconate at any time he deems necessary. He shall call a meeting upon the request of either two deacons or the Session. Adequate notice of such meetings shall be given to all members of the Diaconate as well as to the pastor(s) of the church.

5.14 The Diaconate of each congregation shall determine the number of its members necessary for a quorum, but it shall not be less than one half for a stated meeting or one quarter for a called meeting.

5.15 Only members who are personally present are entitled to vote.

5.16 Each meeting of the Diaconate shall be opened and closed with prayer.

RELATIONSHIP TO THE SESSION

5.17 In the discharge of its duties, the Diaconate is a board of, and under the supervision and authority of the Session. The congregational budget and other important financial decisions require the approval of the Session prior to presentation to the congregation.

5.18 The Session shall have the authority to void or amend any action of the Diaconate, or return it for further consideration.

5.19 The Diaconate and the Session shall have a joint meeting annually in conjunction with the budget process and at other times as necessary.

5.20 The joint meetings can take no official action, but the Session and Diaconate shall act separately on matters committed to the care of each respectively.

5.21 In a congregation in which it is impractical for any reason to secure deacons, the duties of that office shall devolve upon the elders.