How Does the Church Make Decisions?
Meet Knox Presbyterian Church, Anytown. Each church has a congregation (you), and a session.
Elders are elected by the congregation and are ordained through the minister by
God. There are 922 Presbyterian congregations in the Presbyterian Church in Canada
(PCC). We believe that when the church prays and meets to make a decision that we
are discerning the will of God for that time and place. Some decisions are made
by the congregation; others by session or the other courts of the church.
Meet Knox’s neighbours, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian
Church. They, along with other Presbyterian Churches in their area form a presbytery.
All active ministers within the geographical bounds of the presbytery and an equal
number of elders participate in presbytery meetings. Presbyteries oversee the life
and ministry of congregations within their areas. There are 46 Presbyteries in the
PCC. Presbyteries oversee the work of the sessions, congregations and ministers
within its geographical bounds.
Meet Knox’s synod. A synod is comprised of two or more presbyteries grouped
geographically. Each synod meets once a year. One minister and one elder from each congregation attend. Synod organizes educational events, administers camp functions and employs staff people for congregations to use as consultants.
Meet the Presbyterian Church in Canada. General Assembly meets once a year during
the first week in June. Each presbytery sends one sixth of its ministers and elders
to this meeting. The General Assembly makes decisions regarding church policy, doctrine,
and discusses all areas related to our work as a national church. The Moderator
of the PCC is the individual elected to convene this meeting and generally spends
the following year visiting and encouraging congregations.
“In the Presbyterian Church in Canada, changes to church policy in matters
of doctrine, discipline, government or worship are made only after much careful
consideration, and consultation with people across the whole church. Congregations,
sessions, presbyteries, and synods are asked to study the issue. These groups seek
the Spirit’s guidance and make their responses. Based on the responses, General
Assembly proposes changes, which even then can only come into effect if a majority
of presbyteries approve of these “remits”. The Presbyterian Church believes
that the will of God must be determined by the whole church, and never imposed by
one person or a small group.”