Here are responses to some often asked questions.

Q: Are elders allowed to baptize?

A: Elders may baptize only if they receive specific permission from the conference president. For additional details see: Church Manual (19th edition, Revised 2015, p. 75) and Elder’s Handbook (2013 edition, p. 133).

Q: Are elders, by their position, members of the church nominating committee?

A: No. The church may elect an individual who is an elder to the nominating committee but no church leader, including elders, are, by position, members of the nominating committee. (The pastor, however, is an ex officio member of the nominating committee.) For additional details see: Church Manual (19th edition, Revised 2015, pp. 110-113).

Q: Are elders, by position, delegates to the conference constituency session?

A: No, though the church may elect an elder to be a delegate. For additional details see: Church Manual (19th edition, Revised 2015, p. 114).

Q: If an individual served as an elder and then is not an elder for a period of time, and then is elected again, does the individual have to be re-ordained?

A: No, as long as the individual has been a member in good and regular standing. For additional details see: Church Manual (19th edition, Revised 2015, p. 73).

Q: Does the elder chair the church board?

A: The pastor is the chair of the church board, though the pastor may ask an elder to serve as the board chair. For additional details see:  Church Manual (19th edition, Revised 2015, pp. 32, 74). Also, click here for more information and suggestions for leading boards and committees.

Q: Can an individual who is elected as an elder serve in that capacity without being ordained?

A: Until the elder is ordained, the elder may not administer the ordinances of the church. Some congregations have followed the custom of electing an individual to be an elder, but not ordaining that person for a number of years. That practice is not encouraged nor recognized by the Church Manual.  Ordination should follow election as soon as possible. For additional details see: Church Manual (19th edition, Revised 2015, p. 73).

Q: What is the process for accepting a member from another congregation?

A: The following steps should be followed:

1.     The individual wishing to transfer to your church should make a request to the church clerk. The clerk should follow the process outlined by the requesting church’s conference to ask for the membership to be transferred from the church where the individual is a member.

2.     The church clerk should share the request with the pastor, first elder, and other individuals who may be involved in the process of transferring members into the church. It is strongly urged that the pastor and other leaders (such as elders) make personal contact or visit with the individual wishing to transfer into the church.

3.     Once the leaders have made contact with the individual wishing to transfer, the clerk should bring the name to the church board for a vote.

4.     The church board takes a vote to recommend to the church to accept the individual into membership. The final vote is by the church as a whole and then the individual should be introduced and welcomed publically.

5.     After the final vote, the church clerk should follow the process developed by the conference so that the church from where the individual is transferring will know the membership transfer is complete.

For additional details see: Church Manual (19th edition, Revised 2015, pp. 51-55).

Q: What is the process for a member to transfer membership from your church to another church?

A: The following steps should be followed:

1.     The member asks the new church for a membership transfer.

2.     Your church clerk is notified of the request and shares the information with the pastor, first elder, and others who may be involved in membership transfers.

3.     The clerk brings the request to the church board and the board votes to recommend the transfer to the church. The church as a body votes on the transfer.

4.     The clerk follows the process outlined by the conference and sends the recommendation to the new church.

5.     Special note: Whenever an individual moves away from your church area, it is important to contact the church in the new area and also encourage the member to transfer the membership to a church where they have moved. The sooner such contact is made, the greater the chance that the person will not become an inactive member.

For additional details see: Church Manual (19th edition, Revised 2015, pp. 51-55).

Q: What is the process for church discipline?

A: Church discipline involves either censure for a specific period of time or removal from membership.

Both the member and the church need to treat church membership with great care. It is a privilege to be part of God’s church. Members may request to have their membership removed and the church should work with the individual and encourage them to reconsider. Nevertheless, if the member wishes to have the membership removed, the church should comply.

On the other hand, there are occasions when the church has concluded that the conduct or beliefs of an individual are such that the individual should be censured or removed from church membership. The leadership should, in a spirit of care, follow the process outlined in the Church Manual (19th edition, Revised 2015, pp. 56-68).  Church leaders should keep the following points in mind:

1.     A member should be censured or removed from membership only for reasons outlined in the Church Manual (19th edition, Revised 2015, p. 62).

2.     The individual must be notified when the church board will discuss the membership issue. The individual does not have to come to the board meeting, but if the person so desires, they should be given the opportunity.

3.     The board cannot censure or remove a person from membership. The board can only recommend to the church business meeting to censure or remove a person.

4.     Once a church business meeting is scheduled, the person in question must be notified and the person should have the opportunity to make a presentation at the business meeting.

5.     The individual in question must be notified the decision made by the business meeting.

Q: Why are pastors who are licensed ministers or licensed or credentialed commissioned ministers ordained as church elders?

A: Church policy states that they need to be ordained as elders so that they can lead in communion, baptism, etc. The purpose of electing and ordaining them as local elders is to fulfill a policy and not to replace other elders. (If they were ordained previously, they only need to be elected.)

Those who are licensed commissioned ministers or credentialed commissioned ministers also need to be elected and ordained as elders. (If they were ordained previously, they only need to be elected.)

For additional details see: North American Division Working Policy (2015-2016 edition) E05, L31, L32, and Church Manual (19th edition, Revised 2015, p. 33).

Q: Are elders authorized to perform weddings?

A: Elders may give the sermonette, offer the prayer, and give the blessing, but they do not give the vows or declaration of marriage. It is also important to follow all legal requirements for the local jurisdiction in question, which often vary significantly.

For additional details see: Church Manual (19th edition, Revised 2015, p. 75).

Q: What is the role of the elder in the promotion of tithing?

A: Elders, by example, need to return a faithful tithe and give offerings according to their means.  As key church leaders, they have the privilege to share with members the blessings of faithful tithing and to encourage them to faithfully return the tithe and give offerings.

For additional details see: Church Manual (19th edition, Revised 2015, p. 72, 75).

Q: Which Conference department is the primary contact for elders?

A: The Ministerial Association provides resources and training for elders. Check with your local conference Ministerial Association to see if they have additional resources for elders.

Q: Do you have a question we have not listed?

A: If you have a question not mentioned here, email it. If it is of general interest, we may post the response on the website or refer you to your local conference. In some instances we may be able to give a personal response.