New Officers' Training

Welcome to this ministry! We are so glad that you have listened to the voice of God calling you into this ordered ministry as a Ruling Elder or Deacon. It is a magnificent calling, and we are all pleased to join you in this ministry. Officer Training plus an Officer Retreat are before us as we come together to prepare you for these roles.

Complete the New Officer Information Sheet

College of Elders

"Knowing Our Polity" - Saturday, October 19, 2019 9:00 – 11:30 a.m.
A gathering of leaders to worship and refresh our appreciation for our Presbyterian form of government. Plenary: Principles of Presbyterian Government: Polity Applications for Today, Rev H Carson Rhyne, former Presbytery Stated Clerk & Polity Instructor

Attend one of two workshops:

  • Workshop I “The Role of the Session in Presbyterian Governance.” Rev. Tom Oxtoby
  • Workshop 2: “Our Presbyterian Polity at Work.” Rev. H Carson Rhyne

Advance reading

Historic Principles of Presbyterian Polity (pdf)

Officer Training Schedule

You will need three documents, the Book of Confessions and the Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (USA), plus a resource book, Selected to Serve: A Guide for Church Leaders, Earle S. Johnson, (Louisville, KY, Geneva Press, 2012) . The cost for all 3 books is $35, a considerable discount.

While you can download the Book of Confessions and the Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (USA), copies of both books are recommended. You can pick them up in the Church Office on Sunday mornngs. Please make checks payable to First Presbyterian Church.

Session 1 (September 22, 2019, 8:00 a.m. in the Lewis Room)

What Do We Believe? Core Beliefs of Our Presbyterian Faith, Part 1

  • Where Does God Meet Us?
  • In What Ways Does God Claim Us?
  • Who Is God? Jesus? Holy Spirit?
  • What is the Church?

Leaders: Rev. Jay Sanderford and a Resident Minister

What Do We Believe?

  1. Read and meditate on Mark 8:27-38 "You are the Christ…"
  2. Read some background information on what we as Presbyterians believe:
    What Do Presbyterians Believe? By Donald McKim.
    1. Session 1, What Does Presbyterian Mean? By Donald McKim
    2. Session 2, What Does Presbyterian Mean? By Donald McKim
  3. Watch: Theoacademy: Being Presbyterian: Foundations of Presbyterian Discipleship
    (http://www.theocademy.com/lessons-for-new-members)
    1. Lesson 1: A People of Grace
    2. Lesson 2: Wicked Bad
    3. Lesson 3: Who do they say that I am?
  4. Read in the Book of Confessions:
    1. The Apostle’s Creed
    2. The Brief Statement of Faith
    3. The Sarasota Statement
  5. In your own words, drawing from the Bible and our Confessions, jot down your ideas, poems, art or photos and thoughts on one of these topics and bring it with you on Sunday morning. Please write down a page or so of your thoughts, questions, and curiosities and bring it with you on Sunday morning. Consider who…
    1. God is...
    2. Jesus is...
    3. Holy Spirit is...

Session 2 (September 29, 2019, 8:00 a.m. in the Lewis Room)

To Be or Not to Be Reformed?
Who Are the Presbyterians?

  • So, just what does it mean to be Presbyterian/Reformed?
  • A Quick History of the Presbyterian & Reformed Traditions
  • An Introduction to the Confessions of the Presbyterian Church
  • The Essential Tenets of the Reformed Faith
  • An Introduction to the Constitutional Questions and Duties of the Offices of Ruling Elder and Deacon

Leaders: Rev. Jay Sanderford

  1. Study the graphic drawing Christian Family Tree and get a sense of where Presbyterians fall in the history and development of our Christian faith and among other denominations.
  2. Watch: Theoacademy: Elders and Deacons (http://www.theocademy.com/lessons-for-ruling-elders-and-deacons)
    1. Lesson Five: Being a Confessing Church
    2. Lesson Six: The Confessions
  3. Read the “History of the Presbyterian Church” From the Presbyterian Historical Society: https://www.history.pcusa.org/history-online/presbyterian-history/history-church
  4. Review the “Presbyterian & Reformed” document. Think of it as a map of the big ideas of being Presbyterian. Come prepared to discuss our Presbyterian distinctives. We will explore this roadmap of ideas, history, theology and institutions together in class.
  5. Please read and complete the worksheet, “To Be or Not to Be Reformed.” Bring it with you to discuss with our other newly elected elders and deacons on Sunday.
  6. In Selected to Serve, by Earl Johnson, read Chapter 7, “The Ordination Vows,” pp. 121--143.
  7. Please read the Constitutional Question for Church Officers that apply to all Deacons, Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders in the Presbyteian Church USA. We will discuss and explore these important questions this fall in preparation for your ordination and installation in January 2020.

Session 3 (October 6, 2019, 8:00 a.m. in the Lewis Room)

The Great Ends of the Church

  • What Is the Church?
  • Who Is the Church?
  • Where Is Our Home?
  • What Is Our Purpose?
  • Why Are We Here?

Mission and Ministry of the Church

  • Our Vision, Purpose and Mission
  • Strategic Vision for First Pres from Mission & Vision Group

Leaders: Revs. Amy Ruhf and Jay Sanderford

What Do We Believe?

  1. Watch: Theoacademy: Elders and Deacons (http://www.theocademy.com/lessons-for-ruling-elders-and-deacons)
    1. Lesson 3: Who is the Church?
    2. Lesson 4: What is the Church?
  2. Read in the Book of Order:
    1. Read F-1.01—F-10404. The Foundations of Presbyterian Polity
    2. Then, rewrite, in your own words, F-1.0304, The Great Ends of the Church. The six Great Ends, (or Goals), of the Church are a sort of mission statement for Presbyterians.
      1. The Proclamation of the Gospel for the Salvation of Humankind
      2. The Shelter, Nurture, and Spiritual Fellowship of the Children of God
      3. The Maintenance of Divine Worship
      4. The Preservation of the Truth
      5. The Promotion of Social Righteousness
      6. The Exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the World
  3. As approved by the Session in September 2019, the Mission of First Presbyterian Church is: To Make God’s Love Visible First Presbyterian Church (First Pres) is an inclusive and diverse faith community, led by the Holy Spirit, who welcome people of all ages and backgrounds to come together to explore, nurture, and deepen their faith. Through worship, shared discussion, participation, and service, we aim to make God’s love felt throughout our congregation, and community, and echo throughout the world. Our challenge is to serve God with joy and to bear witness to God’s transforming love made visible in Jesus Christ. List 5 or more ways you experience how First Pres makes God’s love visible
  4. Who Is the Church? - After watching the TheoAcademy video, "Who Is the Church?" video, consider the following questions.
    • When you think about God, what words come to mind?
    • Imagine a friend approached you and said, "I can get behind Christianity, but I don’t see why the Church is all that important." What would your response be?
    • In what ways has the Church made an impact on your life up to this point
  5. Now, answer the following questions.
    1. When we think about the Church, what must we first consider? Why?
    2. In what ways does God relate with the Church? How should the ways God relates with the Church influence the ways we relate with one another?
    3. What does God call the Church to do?
    4. What is Christ’s relationship with the Church? What does that mean?
    5. What potential pitfalls must we avoid as Christ’s Church?
    6. Read Ekklesia.pdf (sent via email)
  6. What Is the Church? After watching the TheoAcademy video, "What Is the Church?" work your way through these questions:
    1. If you weren’t born in this denomination, what made you decide to become Presbyterian?
    2. If you were born a Presbyterian, what has kept you here?
    3. In your opinion, what should our priorities be as the Church?
    4. How should those priorities influence what we do as congregations?
    5. The Notes of the Church and the Great Ends of the Church (sent via email). After watching the video, "What Is the Church?" please answer the following questions:
      1. Why did the Reformers come up with the "notes" of the Church?
      2. For the Reformers, what did each of the "notes" look like?
        • The word of God truly preached and heard:
        • The sacraments rightly administered:
        • Church discipline uprightly ministered:
      3. Why are they called the "Great Ends of the Church?"
      4. How can these "Great Ends" be connected with one another?

Session 4 (October 13, 2019, 8:00 a.m. in the Lewis Room)

To Be or Not to Be Reformed?     What is the Church?
Who Did God Create Us to Be?     What Is God Making Us Into?
    Creation, Purpose and Evil…
Using the Confessions as a Map for a Journey of Faith & Service
Core Beliefs of Our Presbyterian Faith, Part 2

Leader: Rev. Jay Sanderford

What Do We Believe?

  1. Watch: Theoacademy: New Members (http://www.theocademy.com/lessons-for-new-members)
    1. Lesson 4: Update Your Faith System
  2. Watch: Theoacademy: Elders & Deacons (http://www.theocademy.com/lessons-for-ruling-elders-and-deacons)
    1. Lesson 11: The Word in Worship
  3. Get out your favorite Bible. Read your favorite Bible story to yourself, out loud! Explore your Bible all over again.
  4. Take the quiz, "The Bible Tells Me So…" It’s all for fun!
  5. Read the short excerpt from "The Confession of 1967" and "Guidelines for Holy Scripture." Both are important guides to reading and understanding how to read and interpret Scripture, as shaped by our Presbyterian culture.
  6. Read "Scripture: the Word of God" a chapter excerpt from Donald McKim’s book, Introducing the Reformed Faith.

Session 5 (Friday, October 15, 2019, 6:30 p.m. in the Lewis Room)

How We Organize Ourselves, Give Leadership & Make Decisions: Presbyterian Principles of Church Polity

Leaders: Revs. Carson Rhyne & Jay Sanderford

What Do We Believe?

  1. Watch: Theoacademy: Elders & Deacons (http://www.theocademy.com/lessons-for-ruling-elders-and-deacons)
    1. Lesson 8: Principles of Order & Government
    2. Lesson 9: The Councils of the Church
  2. Read in the Book of Order:
    1. Read F-1.01—F-10404. The Foundations of Presbyterian Polity
      1. The Proclamation of the Gospel for the Salvation of Humankind
      2. Chapter Two: The Church and Its Confessions, F-2.01-2.05
      3. Chapter Three: Principles of Order and Government, F-3.01—3.04
    2. In Selected to Serve, by Earl Johnson, read the Chapter 3, The Principles Behind the Book of Order, pp. 40—49.
  3. Get out your favorite Bible. Read your favorite Bible story to yourself, out loud! Explore your Bible all over again.
  4. Take the quiz, "The Bible Tells Me So…" It’s all for fun!
  5. Read the short excerpt from "The Confession of 1967" and "Guidelines for Holy Scripture." Both are important guides to reading and understanding how to read and interpret Scripture, as shaped by our Presbyterian culture.
  6. Read "Scripture: the Word of God" a chapter excerpt from Donald McKim’s book, Introducing the Reformed Faith.

Session 6 (October 27, 2019, 8:00 a.m. in the Lewis Room)

Our Faith and Our Call to Ministry: Gifts for Leadership & Ministry
What’s a Deacon?
What’s an Elder?

Revs. Melissa Anne Rogers & Jay Sanderford; Sandy Talbott
Deacon Co-Moderators Doug Gottlibsen & Ellen Johnson

  1. How to Speak Presbyterian - Just for fun, please complete the How to Speak Presbyterian Quiz
  2. Watch: Theoacademy: Elders and Deacons (http://www.theocademy.com/lessons-for-ruling-elders-and-deacons)
    1. Lesson 1: What is Ordered Ministry?
    2. Lesson 2: Being a Leader
  3. Read 3 or more Stories of Our Faith from Scripture. Pick one that helps you understand what it is like to be called by God to ministry & leadership:
    Call/CallingGifts
    1. The Call of Abram (Abraham) and Sarai (Sarah), Genesis 12:1-9
    2. The Call of Moses Exodus, chapters 3 and 4
    3. The Call of Samuel I Samuel 3:1-10
    4. Esther's Call Book of Esther, especially 4:13-17
    5. Mary's Choice Luke 10:38-42
    6. The Call of Lydia, Acts 16: 14-15
    7. God Calls All Kinds of People in The ‘Body Of Christ’ Ephesians 4: 1-13
    8. Gifts of the Spirit I Cor 12:1-31
  4. Read in the Book of Order
    1. Deacon: G-2.02
    2. Ruling Elder: G-2.03 & G-2.04
    3. And for special heavenly credit, G-2.05, Ministers of Word & Sacrament
  5. For Ruling Elders, read: 10 Things Ruling Elders Should Know
  6. For Deacons, read: Deacons Are Doing

Session 7 (October 27, 2019, 5:00 p.m. in the Lewis Room -- Special Session & Time!)

Creating Your Faith Story

Each Deacon and Elder at First Pres is asked to create a "Faith Story" as part of the Officer Training experience. Part biography and part statement of faith, these stories are a way for new Deacons and Elders to introduce themselves to our church community. Each story is a way of sharing something fundamentally important to the faith, life experiences and values that you hold. Each story describes what you believe to be true about God’s presence in the world and the church, and what that presence calls you to believe and to do.

And each story also constitutes each new officer’s examination before the Session of the church, a prerequisite before ordination and installation. New Officers will share their "Faith Story" at the Officers Retreat in November 8 & 9, 2019 or if necessary, at the Wednesday, December 11, 2019.

  1. Watch: Being Presbyterian: Foundations of Presbyterian Discipleship (http://www.theocademy.com/lessons-for-new-members)
    1. Lesson 1:  A People of Grace
  2. Spend time with the Instructions for Creating Your Faith Story. Make lists of stories, people, events and things you want to include.
    1. Complete the Worksheet
    2. Draft your Faith Story. Bring it with you!

Session 8 (November 3, 2019, 8:00 a.m. in the Lewis Room)

Worship and Sacraments: Worship, Baptism and Communion
The Dynamics of Worship The Word in Worship
The Sacraments in Worship Prayer and Song in Worship

Leader: Rev. Jay Sanderford

  1. Complete the Worship and Sacraments Quiz
  2. Watch: Theoacademy: Elders and Deacons (http://www.theocademy.com/lessons-for-ruling-elders-and-deacons)
    1. Lesson 10: The Dynamics of Worship
    2. Lesson 11: The Word in Worship
    3. Lesson 12: The Sacraments in Worship
    4. Lesson 13: Prayer and Song in Worship
  3. Read in the Book of Order, in the Directory for Worship, W-3.01, Chapter 3, The Service for the Lord’s Day
  4. Write a short paragraph, telling what you know about the story of your own baptism.
  5. Write a short paragraph describing some of your deepest memories of worship in a sacred place, or a story about how you have been moved during worship.
    1. Describe the setting for the worship experience?
    2. What happened?
    3. What feelings did you experience?
  6. To learn more about Presbyterians and worship, read, Selected to Serve: A Guide for Church Leaders, Earle S. Johnson, Chapter 4, pp. 52—78.