Can the elders' council, together with the pastor, take votes without the church's support?

The purpose of the elders'council is to unite church leaders with the pastor to evaluate church programs, plan the work of the board, and discuss subjects related to elders' responsibilities. This council may make decisions and present recommendations to the church, but everything that requires a vote from the congregation should be directed through a proposal to the church board and, if necessary, through the board to a church business session. The elders' council does not legislate rules for the church, nor should it attempt to perform tasks that belong to the church board. The elders' council may also meet to plan the church board's agenda, but it never legislates items that are not its responsibilities.

A church member has been removed from church membership for committing a serious moral sin. Now he/ she wants to be readmitted through rebaptism. What is the church's policy as to how long disciplined members should wait? Could he/she be rebaptized just four months after removal?

The Church Manual does not establish a specific time before a person's rebaptism. However, under normal circumstances, such persons should not be rebaptized in less than a year, no matter the reason for removal. The practice of a church removing a person from church membership and then rebaptizing him or her a few weeks later makes mockery of the disciplinary process and should not be done. In such cases, time is a propitious factor for reflection, repentance, and reformation of those who have been disciplined. There may be some exceptions, but these should be evaluated with much care, prayerful consideration, and good sense by the church, in consultation with the administrative leadership of the conference.

What would be some of these exceptions? For instance, a member who withdrew from church participation many years ago but was never disciplined by the church should not have to wait a whole year if he/she asks to be rebaptized. Good sense says that it is not necessary to wait a year, but it also might not be necessary for them to be rebaptized the following month. Another example would be a member who was removed for issues that, if immediately fixed, would not justify waiting an entire year to reintegrate him or her back into church membership. In every case, good judgment and consultation with the local field would be wise.

Wouldn't it be best to limit the church elder's term of office to three or four years? This would give other members a chance to serve and would help to avoid the owner-type leader.

The Church Manual says, "Like all other church officers, the elder is elected for a one- or two-year term as determined by the local church. It is not advisable for one person to serve indefinitely, but the elder may be reelected. The church is under no obligation, however, to reeled, but may choose another for eldership whenever a change seems advisable" (page 48). As local church leaders, elders should not be changed every year, just as they should not serve the church for life. Changes are healthy and provide others with opportunities to exercise leadership as well.

A leader is someone who makes disciples or followers. Good elders also work with the goal of training other leaders and will not cultivate the idea that they are irreplaceable. No one is irreplaceable in the church; but all members are useful and needed.

General Conference Ministerial Association