So, Have I Got a Question for You!


Ever had a question regarding our church's policies that no one seemed to want
to answer? Read on… and discover the answers to five such Presbyterian hot potatoes.

Question 1: The
company by which our minister's spouse is employed has an extensive health and
dental benfits package for all employees. Why does our congregation still have to
contribute to the church's plan when our minister will not benefit from it?

Answer: Your minister
can benefit from the health and dental plan even if her spose's company already
offers and extensive package. The first amount of an bill is billed to one of the
insurance companies. Any excess can be billed to the other one. The health and dental
benefits package was adopted by the General Assembly in 1986. In the year that followed,
ministers were not granted an increase in stipend to cover the cost of this package.
All churches are required to pay for this benefits package while they have a minister
and during the first 12 months of a vacancy of the pulpit. This requirement stems
from the type of policy adopted by the national church. The plan is based on the
clergy positions available within the church rather than the person holding the
position. All positions within the church must be included in order for the church
to get the plan at the present cost. If certain chrches were allowed to opt out
of the plan , the cost of the plan would rise for those churches left in.

Question 2: Our
congregation has recently completed the search process for a new minister. The congregation
voted 99% in favour of the candidate. Why do we need presbytery's approval for
him to come?

Answer: Presbyteries
are responsible for the ministers and the congregations within their bounds. Ministers
in the Presbyterian Church in Canada are accountable to the presbytery in which
they reside, not to their congregation or session. When presbytery examines the
call of a congregation to a minister, they ensure the wording in the call document
is correct and fair to the congregation and the candidate. When a presbytery sustains
a call to a minister, it is just one part of their involvement in the whole search
process which begins with the appointment of an interim moderator.

Question 3: I disagree
with some of the policies of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. I am a church member,
but not an elder. How do I make my voice heard?

Answer: Any member
of the Presbyterian Church in Canada has access to their session as a means of voicing
their disagreement with a policy of the church. A member should bring such a matter
to their session in writing. In order for the concern to be brought to General Assembly,
it must have the support of a court of the church (session, presbytery or synod).
It is then presented to the Assembly as an overture.

Question 4: I disagree
with my minister on a number of points of her ministry; how do I voice my opinion?

Answer: A member
must first approach their minister in private to discuss his or her concerns (Matthew
18:15-17). It is important to recognize that no minister can please all of the people
all of the time. It is equally important for the member to listen to the minister's
point of view during this dialogue and to give the minister time to respond to the
concerns. Only if this process is unsatisfactory and the concerns great, should
the process of bringing a complaint against the minister be brought to the presbytery
through the session. Members of presbytery would then be appointed to investigate
and respond to the concerns. A complaint against a minister is a serious charge
and must be dealt with very carefully according to proper procedure.

Question 5: Why
are session minutes not public? Why can't any member of the church attend a
meeting of Session, as they are discussing the life and work of the congregation?

Answer: Much of
the work of session can and should be shared with the congregation through monthly
bulliten inserts or announcements. Nevertheless, there are times when a session
is forced to make difficult decisions and the discussion surrounding those decisions
needs to be private. Session is responsible for the pastoral care of the congregation
and sometimes is asked to address issues which people do not wish to become public
knowledge. Therefore, for the good of the members of a congregation, the minutes
of Session are not public and no one is permitted to attend Session meetings unless
agreed to by the session in advance.