Policy clarification: GCI-USA elders

As noted in the current version of the Church Administration Manual, GCI-USA ordains elders but no longer licenses them. We found that our system for licensing elders, which was labor intensive, was no longer serving a useful purpose. Elders currently holding an elder’s license may retain it until it expires. Existing licenses will no longer be renewed and newly ordained elders will not receive a license (though they will receive an ordination certificate).

Note that the ordained title/status of “elder” is retained by an individual so long as the following stipulations apply:

  1. they remain compliant with GCI’s code of ethics for elders (which includes upholding GCI doctrine and theology)
  2. they remain a GCI member in good standing (as defined in the Church Administration Manual)
  3. they wish to continue serving in a pastoral role as an elder within a GCI congregation
  4. there is a pastoral role that they can fill within the congregation where they regularly attend

If stipulations 1 and 2 are met, but either 3 or 4 are not, the elder becomes an “elder emeritus” (a title one can hold for life, so long as stipulations 1 and 2 are met—if stipulations 1 or 2 are not being met, the individual ceases to be a GCI elder).

When ordained, an elder is given an appropriate pastoral title (such as assistant pastor) in accordance with the particular pastoral leadership assignment they are filling within the congregation where they regularly attend. That assignment is determined by the congregation’s lead pastor (in consultation with other leaders and the advisory council). In the case of an assignment to serve as a lead pastor, a member of a pastoral team, or a facilitator of a fellowship group (chartered or non-chartered), the appointment is made by the denomination (through the Regional Pastor) in consultation with leaders and the advisory council within the congregation.

Note that none of these pastoral assignments are permanent—all are subject to change/re-assignment. If an elder moves to another congregation, there is no guarantee they will be given a pastoral assignment in the new location.

Where the denomination is approving the pastoral appointment, the applicant must fill out an application form that is available online (click here to download).

Please note the following related stipulations and clarifications:

  1. A person does not have to be an elder to serve as a member of a pastoral team within a chartered church, or as a facilitator of a fellowship group (chartered or non-chartered).
  2. GCI typically ordains as elders only those men and women who are ready to serve in a pastoral role within a chartered church, though elders currently serving on a pastoral team or as a facilitator of a fellowship group may retain their title of elder.
  3. The title “pastor” is reserved for elders who are currently serving in a pastoral role (e.g. lead pastor or assistant pastor). Non-elders should not use the title of pastor.

If you have questions concerning what is covered in this announcement, please contact your Regional Pastor.

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