The name “Presbyterian” comes from the Greek word presbuteros, or “elder.” Our
very name reflects the fact that we are a democratically-governed
church, with most decisions affecting the local church being made by
Elders elected by the congregation.
Nine Elders (who are ordained to their task) comprise the Session, our church’s governing board. Session members serve for three-year terms, and may be re-elected for a second consecutive term. The Pastor serves as Moderator of the Session.
“The Ordination of Elders in a Scottish Kirk,” by John Henry Lorimer, 1891.
Deacons (who are likewise ordained to their task) comprise the Board of
Deacons, who engage in ministries of “sympathy and service,” reaching
out in caring ways to the lonely, the shut-in and the economically
disadvantaged. An elected Deacon serves as Moderator of the Board of Deacons.
First Presbyterian Church is part of the Presbytery of Monmouth, 47
churches in the central New Jersey area, whose elected representatives
(ministers and elders in equal numbers) come together approximately once
a month for worship and to conduct business.
Presbytery, in turn, is part of the Synod of the Northeast, comprising
Presbyterian churches throughout New Jersey, New York and New England. Selected
representatives from Presbytery travel each year to the General
Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the highest governing body of
Presbyterian governing bodies have elected Moderators who chair
meetings, we are not a “hierarchical” church in the sense that we have
permanent ruling officers such as bishops. Nor are we a “congregational” church, in which the local congregation decides everything by popular vote. Rather,
we are proud of being a “connectional” church, one which offers a
combination of the pure democracy of the congregational meeting and the
measured, deliberative judgment of elected officers, seeking God’s will
collectively as they meet and pray together.
Principles of Presbyterian church governance are laid out in our Constitution, which includes the Book of Confessions and the Book of Order. In addition, the Lakewood First Presbyterian Church has its own set of By-laws.
2 The History of Our Church.