Dear City Church Family: As you are undoubtedly aware, the past year has been one of significant transition at City Church. But through staff changes and continued congregational growth, God has been faithful. We believe that our continued mission in Richmond depends on ongoing development of new leaders/servants for the Church.
During August, we will have an open officer nomination period at City Church. That means any communing member in good standing is invited to prayerfully submit nominations for the offices of elder and/or deacon, keeping in mind the Biblical standards for each. Nominations should to be made to the Session in writing (email is sufficient) and received by Monday, August 31.
Beginning in the Fall, these nominees will be trained in: the duties and responsibilities of church office; the theology of the Presbyterian Church; and Biblical qualifications for office. Additionally, they will engage in ongoing conversations with the current church leadership to help them discern their calling. After training and testing are complete, all the approved nominees will be placed before the congregation for election by private ballot to the office of elder or deacon. We anticipate this election to take place in the Spring of 2016.
What is an elder?
An elder is a member of the church called by God and set apart to act as a servant-leader, teacher, and shepherd for a specific church. Elders at City Church assist the pastor in leading and caring for members, regular attendees, and visitors. The apostle Paul appointed elders at many of the churches he started (e.g. Acts 20:17-38); they were an integral part of the early church. The current elders at City Church are pastors Erik Bonkovsky and Joshua Earman, and Ruling Elders David Blanchard, Jon-Marc Haden, Mack Hendrix, James Murphy, and Bo Vaughan.
What is a deacon?
A deacon is a member of the church called by God and set apart as a servant in the church (see Acts 6:1-7). Deacons at City Church will be responsible for assisting in financial issues and addressing practical needs in the church and the community. The current deacons at City Church are Andrew Bleckley, David Boyce, Barrett Clark, Stefan Kling, David Perks, and Blake Stack. We also have a team of diaconal assistants comprised of men and women who help the deacons in their work.
In the PCA both elder and deacon positions are limited to men. This limitation is based on the Bible’s teaching on the roles of church leadership, particularly through passages like 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. There is no set number of elders or deacons required for a church. The number of elders and deacons is determined by the congregation and depends on who demonstrates the character, competency, and calling to serve.
Coinciding with officer training, this Fall City Church again will offer a Leadership Basics course. Leadership Basics, which will begin on Sunday morning, September 27, is open to anyone associated with City Church. It is a don’t-miss opportunity for all who seek to lead others to join God’s mission in the world. The first five sessions of Leadership Basics will overlap with the officer training. The remaining sessions will run concurrently with officer training, but will cover distinct content. Leadership Basics requires a high level of commitment (regular attendance, modest reading assignments, and participation in discussion) but also offers a high reward of spiritual growth and empowerment. It will be led by the staff and ordained leadership of City Church. More information (including a complete list of dates) will be available on Sunday, September 6.
What should you do?
First, if you have any questions or concerns about this process, please contact me or another member of City Church’s leadership team. We realize that for many members at City Church the process of officer nomination, training, and election is new. Second, if you are interested in being a part of Leadership Basics, please register by emailing Val Catrow (firstname.lastname@example.org). Third, prayerfully consider nominating an individual to elder or deacon, preferably after you have talked with that individual. Finally, and most importantly, please pray for City Church as we continue to embody and proclaim the gospel. May we all cling to Christ and trust His grace as we move forward together.
Erik, Moderator of the City Church Session
Download a PDF of this letter, as well some information from the PCA's Book of Church Order regarding the selection and role of elders and deacon.