Adopted: October 16, 2012   Last Amended: None

 

Article 1  Name of Organization

This organization shall be known as the Session of Riverside Presbyterian Church.

Article 2  Composition

The session of Riverside Presbyterian Church shall be comprised of 15 ruling elders in active service divided into three equal classes, one class of which shall be elected each year at the Annual Congregational meeting for a term of three years.  If nominated by the church’s Nominating Committee, a ruling elder may serve an additional three years, for a total of six years.  Thereafter, such ruling elder must be off the session for one year before the possibility of election for further service.  If a ruling elder resigns or is unable to serve a complete term, the Nominating Committee can nominate a person, and if elected by the congregation, that person can serve an unexpired term as a ruling elder on the session.

The session shall be comprised by persons, both men and women, nominated by the church’s Nominating Committee or by nomination from the floor at a duly constituted congregational meeting.  Such persons must then be elected by the congregation by receiving a majority of the votes cast.

Article 3  Responsibilities

The Session is responsible to perform the following duties which are in accordance with the Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. (G-3.02):

– The Session is the council for the congregation.  It shall be composed of those persons elected by the congregation to active service as ruling elders, together with all installed pastors and associate pastors.  All members of the session are entitled to vote.  The pastor shall be the moderator of the session, and the session shall not meet without the pastor or designated moderator.  If there is no installed pastor, or if the installed pastor is unable to invite another moderator, the presbytery shall make provisions for a moderator.

– The session shall have responsibility for governing the congregation and guiding its witness to the sovereign activity of God in the world, so that the congregation is and becomes a community of faith, hope love and witness. Therefore the session has responsibility and power to:

a.  provide that the Word of God may be truly preached and heard.

– provide a place where the congregation may regularly gather for worship, education and spiritual care, setting the time and place for worship, education, fellowship and care;

– provide for the regular preaching of the Word by a teaching elder or other person prepared and approved for the work;

– planning and leading regular efforts to reach into the community and the world with the message of salvation and the invitation to enter into committed discipleship;

– planning and leading ministries of social healing and reconciliation in the community in accordance with the prophetic witness of Jesus Christ; and

– initiating and responding to ecumenical efforts that bear witness to the love and grace of God.

b.  provide that the Sacraments might be rightly administered and received.

– authorizing the celebration of the Lord’s Supper at least quarterly; and, after preparation for those to be baptized and their family, the administration of Baptism as appropriate, in accordance with the principles of the Directory for Worship;

– exercising pastoral care among the congregation, in order that the Sacraments may be received as a means of grace, and the congregation may live in the unity represented in the Sacraments.

c.  nurture the covenant community of disciples of Christ.

– receiving and dismissing members;

– reviewing the roll of active members at least annually and counseling with those who have neglected the responsibilities of membership;

– providing programs of nurture, education and fellowship;

– training, examining, ordaining and installing those elected by the congregation as ruling elders and deacons;

– encouraging the graces of generosity and faithful stewardship of personal and financial resources;

– managing the physical property of the congregation for the furtherance of its mission;

– directing the ministry of the deacons, trustees and all organizations of the congregation;

– employing the administrative staff of the congregation;

– leading the congregation in participating in the mission of the whole church;

– warning and bearing witness against error in doctrine and immorality in practice within the congregation and community; and serving in judicial matters in accordance with the Rules of Discipline.

Article 4  Relations with Church Councils

The session has particular responsibility to participate in the life of the whole church through participation in other councils.  It is of particular importance that the session:

a. elect, as commissioners to presbytery, ruling elders from the congregation, and receive their reports;

b. nominate to presbytery ruling elders from the congregation who be considered for election as commissioners to synod and General Assembly, and to serve on committees or commissions of the same, bearing in mind principles of inclusiveness and fair representation in the decision making of the church;

c. see that the guidance and communication of presbytery, synod and General Assembly are considered, and that any binding actions are carried out;

d. welcome representatives of the presbytery on the occasion of their visits;

e. propose to the presbytery, or through it to the synod and General Assembly, such measures as may be of common concern to the mission of the church; and

f. send to presbytery and General Assembly the requested statistics and other information according to the requirements of those bodies, as well as voluntary financial contributions.

Article 5  Meetings

The session shall hold stated meetings at least quarterly. The moderator shall call a special meeting when he or she deems necessary or when requested in writing by any two members of the session.  The business transacted at special meetings shall be limited to items specifically listed in the call for the meeting. There shall be reasonable notice given of all special meetings.  The session shall also meet when directed by the presbytery.

The quorum for a meeting of the session shall be the pastor or other presiding officer and one half of the ruling elders, except for the reception and dismissing of members, when the quorum shall be the moderator and two members of the session.

The clerk of the session shall be a ruling elder elected by the session for a term of office commensurate with the years of his or her elected class. The clerk of session shall also serve as clerk of the congregational meeting.  In the absence of the clerk, any ruling elder serving on the session can serve as the temporary clerk of the meeting.

The meetings of the session are open to the members of the congregation and to guests.  Such individuals may be granted the privilege of the floor with the right to speak, but not to vote.  The session may meet in executive session whenever circumstances indicate the wisdom in so doing.

The meetings of the session shall be opened and closed with prayer.

Article 6  Minutes and Records

The minutes of the session shall contain all meetings of the session, the congregation, the trustees, the corporation and all joint meetings with the deacons.  The minutes of the session shall keep a full and accurate record of all such proceedings and shall be reviewed by the session at its next stated meeting.  The minutes of the session are also subject to review by the presbytery on an annual basis, or when required by the presbytery.  Minutes and all other official records of councils are the property in perpetuity of said council or their legal successor.

The session shall maintain the following roll and registers:

a.  Membership Roll

– The session shall maintain rolls of baptized, active and affiliate members.

– The session shall delete names from the roll of the congregation upon the member’s death, admission to membership to another congregation or presbytery, or renunciation of jurisdiction.  The session may delete names from the roll of the congregation when a member so requests, or has moved, or otherwise ceases to participate actively in the work and worship of the congregation for a period of two years.  While the session shall not maintain an inactive roll, the session shall seek to restore the members to active participation and shall provide written notice before deleting names due to member inactivity.

b. Registers

– The session shall maintain registers of baptisms authorized by the session; weddings officiated by the pastor or performed on church property; names and years of service of ruling elders and deacons; names of installed pastors, associate pastors, parish associates, interim pastors, and supply pastors with dates of service; and such other registers as the session may deem necessary.

c. Finances

– The session shall prepare and adopt a budget and determine the distribution of the congregation’s benevolences.  Said budget will be shared with the congregation at the annual congregational meeting and received by the congregation as information.  The session shall authorize offerings for Christian purposes and shall account for the proceeds of such offerings and their disbursements.  It shall provide full information to the congregation concerning its decisions in such matters.

– The session shall elect a treasurer for such term as the session shall decide and shall supervise his or her work.  Those in charge of various congregational funds shall report at least annually to the session and more often, if requested.  The session may provide by rule for standard financial practices of the congregation, but in no case shall fail to observe the following procedures:

a. All offerings shall be counted and recorded by at least two duly appointed persons;

b. Financial books and records adequate to reflect all financial transactions shall be kept and shall be open to inspection by authorized church officers at reasonable times;

c. periodic, and in no case less than annual, reports of all financial activities shall be made to the session, and the session shall require and complete a financial review on all funds, financial procedures and activities on an annual basis.

d. Trustees

– Ruling elders in active service on the session shall, by reason of their office, be the trustees of the corporation, Riverside Presbyterian Church, Inc.

– The session shall meet as the trustees on at least an annual basis to elect the officers of the corporation which shall come from the current members of the session.  The officers shall include the president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer, and shall ordinarily be elected to office in April of each year.

-The trustees shall have the following powers: to receive, hold encumber, manage, and transfer property, real or personal, for the church; to accept and execute deeds of title to such property; to hold and defend title to such property, to manage any permanent special funds for the furtherance of the church, all subject to the authority of the session and under the provisions of the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

– The trustees shall act only after the approval of the congregation granted in a duly constituted meeting.

Article 7  The Session and the Congregation

The session shall be the council charged with the responsibility for calling a congregational meeting.

– Public notice of a congregational meeting shall be given during two successive services of worship prior to the meeting. The meeting shall convene following the notice given on the second Sunday.

– The Clerk of the Session shall serve as Clerk of the congregational meeting.

– A quorum for a congregational meeting shall not be less than one tenth of the members.

– The minutes of the congregational meeting shall be reviewed by the session at its next stated meeting.

Article 8  The Session and Its Relationship to the Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee of Riverside Presbyterian Church is a committee of the congregation.  As such it reports directly to the congregation and does not serve as a committee, commission or sub-committee of the session.

Ruling elders and deacons shall be nominated by a committee elected by the congregation, drawn from and representative of its membership.

The Nominating Committee shall consist of at least three active members of the congregation, and shall include at least one ruling elder who is currently serving on the session.  The pastor shall serve as ex officio and without vote.  When elections are held, full opportunity shall be given to the congregation for nominations from the floor on the congregational meeting by any active member of the congregation.  A majority of all the active members present and voting shall be required to elect.

Ruling elders and deacons are men and women elected by the congregation from among its members.  The nomination and election of ruling elders and deacons shall express the rich diversity of the congregation’s membership and shall guarantee participation and inclusiveness.

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