Congregational office bearers
As Philippians 2 sets the tone, being an office bearer in a local congregation:
- is a call to service not promotion
- is a privilege not a prize
- confers responsibility not power
- is a task for a season not a right for life
Every congregation has a Kirk Session and every Kirk Session must appoint a session clerk. It is quite common practice for there to be joint session clerks where two people share the work. Sometimes the ‘split’ is functional - one does the minutes and admin, while the other tends to the ‘fuzzier’ tasks of relating to the wider congregation. Sometimes, the two people simply take ‘turn about’ so that all the work is covered.
The formal part of a session clerk’s ‘job’ is focused on the Kirk Session meeting - assisting the minister (or interim moderator) in drawing up the agenda, ensuring that the meeting is called properly, taking the minute of the meeting and following up any correspondence required. However, at the heart of being a good session clerk are healthy relationships. This is one of the most pivotal - and potentially most helpful - volunteer roles in the life of a parish church.
Every congregation needs to appoint a treasurer. This is done by the financial court - which under the Unitary Constitution or in parishes quoad omnia is the Kirk Session and under the Model Constitution is the Congregational Board. The treasurer looks after the congregation's money by ensuring that:
- offerings are recorded and banked
- bills and dues are paid
- annual accounts are prepared
- the appropriate “court” is kept informed about the financial situation of the congregation
- tax is recovered from HMRC under Gift Aid provisions.
Sometimes, there is both a treasurer, who does the book keeping, and a finance convener, who works with a team looking at more strategic issues such as budgeting. It is also common to have a Gift Aid convener who ensures that this method of giving is promoted and properly recorded and that claims for tax recovery are made regularly.
Clerk to the Congregational Board
Where a congregation operates under the Model Constitution, there is a Congregational Board which is responsible for the financial and property interests of the congregation. The Board needs to appoint a Clerk. The appointee need not be a member of the Board, but must be a member of the congregation.
The ‘job’ is to make preparations for Board meetings, work with the chairperson (not necessarily the minister) on the agenda, ensure that a minute is taken and follow up appropriate communications. While the formal task is that of minute clerk and record keeper, the person appointed should keep up to date with good practice in terms of caring for church buildings and accounting for church monies.