Each URC church including ours has a ‘leadership team’ who are known as Elders and meet on a regular basis to further the life and work of the local church. They are not there to make decisions on behalf of the local church but to advise the Church Meeting (all members of the congregation) and to undertake work that the Church Meeting asks them to do. All the decisions of the local church are made by the Church Meeting (which may delegate tasks to the Elders).
Elders are ‘ordained’ for life meaning that they are recognised by their local URC congregation as having gifts for a lay ministry (not Minister of Word and Sacrament in the formal sense) and who are able to offer service to God’s church. Promises are made at a special service about the roles they will undertake, a declaration of faith will be made and each Elder has hands laid upon them as a sign of that recognition. Some Elders are also able to serve Holy Communion or offer Baptism.
Duties undertaken usually include offering pastoral care to Church members and welcoming visitors, assisting in the conduct of worship, managing the Church’s finances, overseeing maintenance of the manse and any other buildings, and attending meetings with other local churches.