Dear Westminster family,
The word "Presbyterian" comes from the Greek word, "elder." Paul instructed Timothy and Titus to appoint elders over the church. These men should display a godly character and should be able : to teach, to lead, and to provide wise counsel. These elders are called to be a shepherd. Just as shepherds of Jesus' time tended their flock, these modern day "shepherds" who are leaders, elected by the congregation, tend to the congregational flock.
The reference to elders is not just in the New Testament. In Exodus 18, Moses chose elders from among the people to share the burdens of pastoring the Children of Israel. That Presbyterian type pastoring continued throughout the Old Testament. In the four Gospels of the New Testament we find the people of Israel still under the spiritual direction and care of elders. God's plan for church government has always been Presbyterian in nature.
This Presbyterian type of pastoring is not only biblical but it is also practical. In Proverbs we find there is wisdom in having an abundance of counselors who can provide safety & victory (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22, 25:6).This Presbyterian plan for oversight of Christ's church is not left to one pastor, but is shared with elders who prayerfully and humbly strive together with that pastor to provide for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and the beauty of His bride, the Church.
Paul told the Ephesian elders with whom he had labored for three years, "I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house." (Acts 20:20) He knew that pastoral ministry must be both "in public and from house to house." Just as the old time medical doctors served their communities in the past by providing medical care of their parents both in the home and in the hospital, Paul preached the gospel in the public market and to the people where they lived. This Presbyterian type pastoring uses Paul’s example to serve the congregation by providing care for their spiritual health through Paul’s example of pastoral visitations.
Last February, the Westminster Session established a long-range goal to visit every member in their home by the end of this year and to plan for regular visits thereafter. Through these visits, the session believes the elders can do a better job of providing the Westminster Congregation with personal care. After prayerful consideration, the session evenly divided the members of the congregation among the four Ruling Elders for that purpose. Each Elder has approximately 15, families/members of the congregation under his care.
While the goal was to visit every member in their homes by the end of this year, it has become necessary to scale back the visitation given the extra duties each elder is now called on to perform while we seek a new pastor. The elders are currently working on a loose visitation schedule with the goal of serving each household of Westminster annually. In the somewhat near future, the elders would like to schedule a short in-home visit with you. The Elders will work with you to find a date and time that is convenient with you and your schedule.
It is the sacred duty of the elders to provide Presbyterian type pastoring for each member of the Westminster congregation and their household. As in the practice of the doctors of old, your elders want to provide spiritual care in both. Westminster is a hospital for sinners where it is safe to be know, imperfect, and loved. Your elders are trying to create an atmosphere of genuine, familial community founded upon honest relationships.
Paul instructed the elders of Ephesus, "Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock.” (Acts 20:28) In other words, shepherds need to know their sheep. "I am the good shepherd," Jesus explained, "I know my own and my own know me.” (John 10:14) Regular visitation grants elders the opportunity to "pay attention" to you and to learn about your life and family. As they learn of your burdens they can bear those burdens with you.
Peter exhorted the elders to "Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight." (1 Peter 5:2) The pastoral description of a shepherd tending his flock is the picture of the gentle rule that an elder is to exercise over those entrusted to his care.
In September, the Session, in an effort to provide better shepherding and communications with the various church committees of Westminster, has assigned an elder to each committee for liaison and oversight. Some committees will have an elder assigned as the Chairman.
The Chairman and Oversight elder for each committee is as follows:
*Denotes Temporary Committee
The Session of Westminster