Equality to Be Maintained
Among the elders as well as among the deacons equality shall be maintained with respect to the duties of their office, and also, as far as possible, in other matters, of which the consistory shall judge.
Not only with the ministers of the Word equality is to be maintained; the same applies to elders and deacons. It will not be necessary to elaborate on this provision. A few remarks will suffice. What this article refers to is not the equality of the offices of elder and deacon. These offices are on the same level, indeed. But this is not what Article 25 deals with. Here the point is that the one elder or deacon shall not be considered higher than the other and that the burdens of the office shall be divided as evenly as possible.
This means in the first place that the various sections or wards should not show vast differences in the number of families or of single persons. Some factors that are to be taken into account in this respect are not only the number of addresses but also whether these are addresses of families or of single persons; whether these families number several teenagers or only younger children; further whether they are living relatively close together or require considerable time for travelling.
Each consistory appoints a brother to keep the minutes and to conduct the correspondence. Especially in larger congregations this will mean quite a burden on the one who is chosen for this task. Not infrequently the task is split between two brothers: the one takes care of the minutes, the other conducts the correspondence. Depending on the frequency of consistory meetings as well as on the volume of correspondence, it might be good to consider appointing a non-office-bearer to the position of clerk. After all, elders and deacons have not been chosen and ordained for a “desk-job” or for conducting correspondence.
If a consistory should appoint a non-office-bearer as clerk, such a brother does not have the right to vote and would have to observe the same confidentiality which is required of elders and deacons. In case a consistory does not use such a service but charges an office-bearer with this task instead, the time required for doing this work should also be taken into consideration with the division of the work proper of the office-bearers. The same applies if an office-bearer is appointed into the committee of administration or the mission committee or other committees which would demand an extra amount of time over and above his work as an elder or a deacon.