Next week, our pastors will be in Perth, WA at Bull Creek Presbyterian Church from 16-18 May, attending what’s called a National Assembly.
If you thought assemblies were just for kids at school, we’ll explain what the National Assembly is all about.
Grace Christian Church Buderim is part of a ‘denomination‘ called the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Australia (‘WPC’ for short). A denomination is a network of churches that unite around the same understanding of the Bible and beliefs about the way church should be organised. For example, the ‘Westminster’ in our name refers to our belief that the Westminster Confession of Faith correctly summarised the teaching of the Bible, and ‘Presbyterian’ means we believe in a system of elders and ‘courts’ (kind of like committees, detailed below) to organise and lead the church.
You read more about the history of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Australia here.
Each church in the denomination has a church ‘session‘ which meets monthly. This consists of our ‘teaching elders’ and our ‘ruling elders’. Elders are elected by the members of the congregation. Decisions at these meetings are made by vote, where each elder carries one vote. The bulk of church life is led and managed by the session.
In turn, each church will be represented by its elders in a ‘presbytery‘, which meets quarterly. Presbyteries are usually organised regionally (e.g. Queensland, or Western Australia). Presbyteries have no direct authority over churches, but they may be called on to assist and guide church sessions. The only exception to this is in the case of pastors, who may only be installed in or removed from a church by the presbytery. Presbyteries also assist in church planting and missions initiatives.
Finally, the presbytery members from across the country, as well as other representatives from connected churches and organisations outside of our presbyteries, will gather together every eighteen months for a meeting of the National Assembly (formerly known as Synod). The role of the National Assembly is largely administrative (such as determining procedures and policies for our churches and presbyteries), but may also assist and guide regional presbyteries in similar way to how presbyteries assist and guide church sessions.
“The National Assembly is the bond of union and fellowship among the presbyteries and shall promote peace and confidence among the presbyteries and their constituent churches.”
– Book of Church Order, p24
Of course, making administrative decisions is not all that happens at National Assembly. It is also a valuable time for our elders to meet together with other partners in the gospel from across the country and further afield, to pray together, fellowship together and even learn together. At this National Assembly, all ‘commissioners’ (representatives) have been asked to read What Is The Mission Of The Church by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert. This will form the basis for discussion times over the three days of National Assembly.
Please pray for our elders and all those attending:
- For safe travels to and from Perth
- That those attending might be encouraged and relationships deepened for the sake of gospel ministry
- For a spirit of unity around the gospel
- For a spirit of prayerfulness, grace and humility as items are discussed and decisions made
- For the building up of the church across Australia
If you need assistance with anything while our pastors are away, please contact the church office using the details on the right and you will be connected with one of our elders.