Synod Affirms Purpose of Elders and Ministers at Higher Assemblies
On Saturday, June 9, General Synod affirmed that the offices of elder, deacon, and minister of Word and sacrament are not interchangeable, and that only elders and ministers should participate in the higher assemblies, including General Synod.
The recommendation came from the Commission on Theology, which outlined the purpose of each office in its paper “The Nature of Office and Assembly.” The commission emphasized that the work of guidance and governance, which is the work of the assembly of General Synod, belongs to elders and ministers: “The purpose of an assembly determines its composition. The primary purpose of the greater assemblies of the church is to maintain the unity of the church’s doctrine, life, and witness in the world. If a Reformed theology of assembly grows out of a Reformed theology of office, the perspective of this commission is that the offices of elder and minister best serve the greater assemblies.”
The paper was in response to the 2017 General Synod, which referred a recommendation from the Diaconal Assemblies Task Force that suggested that deacons be included in all assemblies of the church (classis, regional synod, and General Synod).