1. I want to be further illuminated on the theology of re-baptism.
So do I, but the scriptures are silent beyond one passage (Acts 19:1-7), which tells of 12 believers who had been baptized by John in anticipatory faith of the coming Redeemer and who did not know of the reality of Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and ascension. When they heard this good news, they were baptized again.
This unusual incident is insufficient to mandate that previously-immersed believers ought to be rebaptized. Adventists have always maintained that an immersed person is welcomed into church fellowship by profession of faith in his or her previous baptism. The foot-washing service that precedes Communion is a tangible and spiritual reminder of the cleansing that Jesus provides to all; those seeking rebaptism should be directed first to this meaningful service. Our Church Manual, however, does require rebaptism for re-admittance into the church for certain moral failures that have disgraced the church's witness in the community. Although there is no biblical text to prove this point of polity, any organization has the authority to establish rules by which it will govern itself.
2. What kind of materials has the General Conference Ministerial Association been preparing to support the ministry of local church elders?
The Ministerial Association is trying to make available to pastors the necessary resources for training officers at the local congregation level. One wonderful resource is the Elder's Handbook. This book presents the role and function of the elder according to biblical principles of organization and leadership. At the end of every chapter, there is a study guide to help the trainee in the learning process. There is also a special feature for group discussion. The breakoutsession questions wi II help to make the presentation of the subject more attractive to the trainees.
Another good resource is Elder's Digest, a quarterly magazine for elders and other officers in the local congregation. In each issue, we focus on different aspects of the elder's activities. The articles are short and practical.
In every issue you will find sermon outlines, interviews with local church leaders and pastors, and a question-andanswer feature. Elder's Digest is translated into Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
Another helpful resource is the SDA Elder's Guide, a complete worship program for every Sabbath of the year. This program includes the sermon, children's story, calls to worship, hymn suggestions, scripture readings, and a pastoral prayer. The SDA Elder's Guide will follow closely our denominational calendar voted by the General Conference; in this way, all distinctive Adventist teachings, as well as the promotional program of the church, will be covered.
3. What is the role of the head elder?
The Church Manual, on page 52, recommends: "In churches with a large membership it is advisable to choose more than one elder. The burdens of office may be too great for one person, and should be shared by as many as are required to do the work. In such event one of them should be designated as 'first elder.' The work should be divided among the elders in harmony with their experience and ability." Several activities are under the head elder's responsibilities. One of them is to represent the pastor before the church in the pastor's absence. On the other hand, it is not the head elder's job to centralize all authority on himself, but to distribute responsibilities, plan, and be a counselor and motivator to the other elders. This attitude will facilitate the job of the group and will prepare other elders to be head elders in the future. Some think that because they are head elders, they need to do everything, they end up centering the activities on themselves. Others think that by delegating responsibilities, they will lose their authority. In reality, the more we delegate, the more authority we will exert. If you are a head elder, be a good colleague to the ones who assist you and a faithful friend of your pastor in taking care of and managing the church.
General Conference Ministerial Association