Ordaining New Leaders

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Welcome to St Albans, one part of Christ’s body in our city, where we seek to encourage and equip one another in our living with Jesus.  Today we celebrate the ordination and induction of Mark Angel whom you have elected to join our eldership team.

The word ‘Presbyterian’ means leadership or governance by elders, from the New Testament Greek word for elder (presbuteros).  An elder was a senior person by age or position of responsibility.  Elders in the Presbyterian Church are people who are recognised by the local congregation as having the character and giftings for church leadership.  Once elected, they are ‘ordained’ as an elder, meaning that they are called and set apart by God and the congregation for this position or office.  They are ordained once but may be re-inducted numerous times where the local church has a fixed term of service or the elder moves to another Presbyterian church.

At their induction, elders (and ministers) are asked to declare their personal faith and commitment to God, to the fundamental Christian beliefs in the Bible, and to the church government and “ways of doing things” of the Presbyterian Church, by signing a statement called ‘The Formula’.  This Formula was changed in 2010 to recognise that we have a new contemporary NZ Confession of Faith ‘Kupu Whakapono’ which has been added to the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1653 as the Subordinate Standards (the secondary standards after the Bible which is the supreme rule of life and faith) of our Presbyterian Church.  It reads:

“I believe in the Word of God in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and the fundamental doctrines of Christian Faith contained in the Kupu Whakapono and Commentary, the Westminster Confession of Faith, and other subordinate standards of this Church.  I accept that liberty of conviction is recognised in this Church but only on such points as do not enter into the fundamental doctrines of Christian faith contained in the Scriptures and subordinate standards.  I acknowledge the Presbyterian government of this Church to be agreeable to the Word of God and promise to submit to it.  I promise to observe the order and administration of public worship as allowed in this Church.”

The congregation is asked to give to the newly elected elders all their “support and encouragement in the Lord”.  So we warmly welcome Mark as a leader among us and pray for God’s enabling of him to be “full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6 verse 7).

Our current elders are:  John Ah Chan, Giles Bates, Ivan Gore, Raymond Hansen, Nancy Hazeleger, Anne Higgins, Alan Little, Satyendra Ram, Jennifer Shaw, and me (known as the teaching elder).

Both the regional governing body (the Presbytery) and the national governing body (the General Assembly which meets every 2 years), are comprised in principle of an equal number of ministers and elders.  This is an important value of Presbyterian leadership.

I greatly appreciate the eldership teams I have served with at St Albans for their vision, wisdom, critique and guidance of our church life and mission, and their personal support for me.