Clerks of Session
Our Presbyterian polity commits to a shared ministry among ruling elders, deacons, members, and teaching elders. Our polity commits to corporate governance in which decisions are always communal, never individual. All of us are generally wiser than one of us. “The Holy Spirit works powerfully through groups, as well as through individuals,” is a classic Presbyterian approach to common work in the Church. The Moderator and the Clerk of Session are guardians of this polity … all in the hope of enhancing our witness to Jesus Christ and furthering the Great Ends of the Church.
Please refer to the Handbook for Clerks of Session for detailed review of responsibilities and recommended procedures for successful ministry of clerking. The role of the clerk of session is defined by the Book of Order. The Book of Order has four sections: the Foundations of Presbyterian Polity, the Form of Government, the Directory for Worship, and the Rules of Discipline. For clerks, the important section is the Form of Government.
Some sessions elect a clerk from those ruling elders on the session, while other sessions select an elder not currently on the session. If you are currently serving on the session, you have voice and a vote. If you are not on the session now, you do not have a vote and should refrain from speaking except to ask for clarification for the minutes or unless you have been given privilege of voice.
The clerk of session needs to be knowledgeable about session responsibilities, to have an understanding of Presbyterian polity, and be willing to learn basic parliamentary procedure. The clerk works closely with the pastor and serves as the communicating link with the session, pastor(s), and congregation. Clerks serve as the church’s designated correspondent to receive and submit communications to and from other councils. Accurate records of all the proceedings in session meetings and in congregational meetings are essential.
The clerk of session is responsible for keeping certain records of the church.
- Minutes of the meetings of the session (G-3.0107; G-3.0204)
- Minutes of the meetings of the congregation (G-1.0505)
- Membership Rolls (G-3.0204a)
- Registers (G-3.0204b)
- Submitting annual reports required by the presbytery.
Annual Presbytery of Genesee Valley Reporting Forms
- PC(USA) Book of Order
- Parliamentary Procedure
- Electronic Meetings Policy
- Presbyterian Historical Society – Archiving Records & Records Retention Guidelines (2022)
- Glossary and Definitions
- Employment Guidance for Sessions & Session Personnel Committees
- NYS Sexual Harassment Laws
- Often-Seen Legal and Risk Issues Among Churches (2023)