ABCs of the PCA: Elders

One of the beautiful things about the body of members at Westminster is the diversity of church backgrounds that are represented. Only a small percentage of our members actually grew up in the Presbyterian Church in America. Because of this, we will be writing a series of blog posts with information about different areas of the PCA. If any of these posts leads to more questions, please feel free to call any of our pastors or session members to learn more!

Up today, we will be looking at the office of Elder.

First, it is important to note that God is the head of hte church. The first point in the preface to The Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America (BCO) states this point clearly:

Jesus Christ, upon whose shoulders the government rests, whose name is called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace; of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end; who sits upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom to order it and to establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth, even forever (Isaiah 9:6-7); having all power given unto Him in heaven and in earth by the Father, who raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand, far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and has put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all (Ephesians 1:20-23); He, being ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things, received gifts for His Church, and gave all offices necessary for the edification of His Church and the perfecting of His saints (Ephesians 4:10-13).

Jesus, the Mediator, the sole Priest, Prophet, King, Saviour, and Head of the Church, contains in Himself, by way of eminency, all the offices in His Church, and has many of their names attributed to Him in the Scriptures. He is Apostle, Teacher, Pastor, Minister, Bishop and the only Lawgiver in Zion.

It belongs to His Majesty from His throne of glory to rule and teach the Church through His Word and Spirit by the ministry of men; thus mediately exercising His own authority and enforcing His own laws, unto the edification and establishment of His Kingdom.

Christ, as King, has given to His Church officers, oracles and ordinances; and especially has He ordained therein His system of doctrine, government, discipline and worship, all of which are either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary inference may be deduced therefrom; and to which things He commands that nothing be added, and that from them naught be taken away.

Since the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven, He is present with the Church by His Word and Spirit, and the benefits of all His offices are effectually applied by the Holy Ghost.

The BCO goes on to point out that all of our ordinances are derived by the Word of God and we stand under that as our ultimate authority. After the ascension of Christ, he delegated governing authority of His church to particular leaders, overseers, or elders (see 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1).

So, now, who are elders, how are they chosen, and what do they do? There are two types of elders: Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders. Pastors are Teaching Elders and they primarily focus on preaching and teaching needs within a local congregation (see Ephesians 4:11-14). Ruling Elders are the men that we commonly refer to simply as “Elders.” Ruling Elders shepherd the flock by caring for the congregation and watching over her spiritual needs (see Acts 20:28). Ruling elders are elected by the members of the church and ordained and installed by the Session. Together, the Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders make up the Session, which is charged with the ministry of the Word and prayer in the church. Some of the responsibilities of the Session can be broken down into the following categories (as taken from BCO):


  • To watch diligently over the flock committed to their charge, that no corruption of doctrine or morals enter in
  • To exercise government and discipline
  • To take oversight of the spiritual interests of the particular church, and the Church generally when called


  • To visit the people at their homes, especially the sick
  • To pray with and for the people, being careful and diligent in seeking the fruit of the preached Word among the flock
  • To bear glad tiding of salvation to the ignorant and perishing
  • To dispense the manifold grace of God and the ordinances instituted by Christ
  • To administer the Sacraments


  • To instruct the ignorant, comfort the mourner, nourish and guard the children of the church
  • To set a worthy example to the flock entrusted to their care by zeal in evangelizing the unconverted and in making disciples
  • To feed the flock by reading, expounding and preaching the Word of God
  • To declare the will of God to sinners and beseech them to be reconciled to God through Christ
  • To proclaim the Gospel

As you can see, this is a tall order. So please pray for our Session! 

Of course, this information gives a broad overview of this office of the church. If you have any questions about more specific details of the Elders’ role in our church and in your life, personally, please reach out to any of our Elders. They are always happy to talk with you!

Westminster Session
John W. Downs, Clerk of the Session
Lee Coleman
Corley Moses
Trey O’Brien
Richard Owens, Moderator\
William Montgomery, Elder Emeritus
Gene Stansel, Elder Emeritus

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