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Governed by the centrality of Scripture
The term Presbyterian refers essentially to the way in which a church is governed. A Presbyterian Church is governed by elders according to the pattern seen in both the Old and New Testaments. This is in distinction to being ruled by bishops in a hierarchical model, or by members in a congregational model. In a Presbyterian church, biblically qualified elders are recognized through congregational election and rule the church corporately.
This government is exercised locally, regionally and nationally through a graded series of courts usually known as Session, Presbytery and General Assembly. It provides a way for the whole Church to be connected in mutual accountability and responsibility, and demonstrates organizationally our common bond as the body of Christ under His Headship.
As is the case in all Presbyterian churches, the Ann Street Presbyterian church Session represents the church body which is responsible for overseeing the spiritual and administrative governance of the church. The Session is populated by members of the church designated as Elders who have demonstrated and accepted the responsibility of providing leadership and spiritual guidance within the church. The position of Eldership involves significant responsibilities, and the Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 3 1-13), sets very high standards for conduct for office bearers within the church. The development of the Eldership concept in the Presbyterian church can be traced back to the French reformer John Calvin and this concept was also taken up by the church in Scotland under John Knox’s direction which is why it is still often referred to as the “Kirk Session”.
The church Session, which can also function as a court of the church, consists of the Minister who usually chairs the Session together with Elders of the charge and any other assistant Ministers. The Minister of the charge is referred to as the Moderator of the Session.
The general function of the Session is to watch over the spiritual interests of the church by supervising the Congregation and all societies and organizations within it. The Sessions admits to church membership and assists the Minister in the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Elders are required to take vows relating to church doctrine and worship and the governance of the church, but in particular and accordance with the position of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, Elders are required to acknowledge their belief in the Bible as the supreme standard of behaviour and governance, and the Westminster Confession of Faith [online copy], as the subordinate standard read in the light of the Declaratory Statement.
The overall governance of the Presbyterian Church is such that the ‘Kirk’ Session is responsible to the regional Presbytery which is the governing body of a number of congregations in a particular area, and in Queensland there are seven Presbyteries. The Presbytery has the oversight of all charges and home mission stations in its area and has particular responsibilities in matters concerning Ministers. Overall governance on a State basis is provided by the State Assembly which has its own Moderator and Assembly Clerk.
The State Assemblies come under the overall jurisdiction of the General Assembly of Australia which is made up of a representation of Ministers and Elders from all States and presbyteries and has the supreme authority of matters in doctrine, worship and discipline as well as dealing with such national matters as overseas missions and the fixing of standards for Ministerial training.
Current Office Holders of Ann St Presbyterian Church Session:-
Moderator: Very Rev David Jones
Session Clerk: Elder Dr Ian Bennett
Deputy Session Clerk: Elder Peter Houghton