Given that the general powers of the session under the PCNSW code includes proscribing the roles given to deacons within the life of the congregation, the following arrangements were approved.
A leadership group consisting of elders and deacons will meet to discuss and guide the work of the congregation considering all the business currently assigned to our eldership (“session”). In cooperation with the staff, the leadership group oversees the ministry of the congregation so that all God’s people might be equipped to serve God in the church and in the world.
It will be the default that deacons are included in all session meetings and have the same access to agendas, minutes and papers as elders. If a meeting of only the elders is required for some specific reason the moderator may call such a meeting or the elders can vote to exclude the deacons from a portion of a meeting in order to deal with a particular matter. Both elders and deacons can move and second motions and speak, but if a vote is required only elders vote.
This leadership structure seeks to reflect the New Testament teaching that men and women are equal but different. The desire is for a leadership structure where the wisdom and perspectives of men and women are equally valued and where men and women serve together as equal partners, but also reflects God’s good design for men and women that men in particular are called to be initiative-taking servant leaders in the church family.
The words ‘elder’ and ‘deacon’ mean different things in different church traditions. In the Presbyterian Church in NSW, elders and deacons are appointed through an identical process and make the same promises and affirm the same statement of belief. Our elders and deacons will together form our leadership group and discuss issues and make decisions collectively.
All elders and deacons are able to attend, speak and vote at Management Committee meetings but the expectation is that they do not attend except for (very occasional) joint meetings. These arrangements for deacons may be reviewed and changed by the session at any time.