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P.C.U.S.A. Info

Leadership and Governance

Markham Woods Presbyterian Church is governed by the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which consists of two parts: the Book of Confessions and the Book of Order. The latter provides for three groups of leaders (broadly called “ordered ministries”) to help oversee the work of the church: deacons, ruling elders and ministers of the Word and Sacrament (also called teaching elders). A Presbyterian church is governed according to the pattern of elders (Greek: presbyter) seen in the Old and New Testaments.

Ministers of Word and Sacrament

Ministers teach the faith and equip congregations for the work of ministry. They also provide pastoral care and steward the mysteries of God through celebration of the sacraments of baptism and The Lord’s Supper.

With ruling elders, ministers serve as presbyters working together to discern the will of Christ for higher councils in the church called presbyteries, synods, and the General Assembly.

Ruling Elders

The ordered ministry of ruling elder is a distinctive mark of Presbyterianism. Like deacons and ministers, they are ordained. They take part in local leadership, government, and spiritual discernment at all levels. These Biblically qualified elders are elected from the church family and, along with ministers, lead the church corporately.

At Markham Woods and every other Presbyterian church, ruling elders join with the ministers in a church council called the Session. Each ruling elder serves a three-year term. They retain their ordination even when not actively serving on the Session.


The Board of Deacons is made up of individuals who are responsible for the care and nurture of the church family. Deacons are identified in the Bible as people called to sympathy, witness and service after the example of Jesus Christ and actively serve the church family for three years.

Ordered ministry of deacon is important to the ongoing relationships and community in the life of our church family. Deacons visit the sick, hospitalized and homebound, and offer communion. They are present at regular worship services and memorial services to offer care and to pray for those in need.

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