ARP General Synod (What is it?)
ARP General Synod (not senate or synagogue) is the annual meeting of ARP Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders. It's where we make overall decisions on behalf of our churches and presbyteries for the direction our denomination will take in the coming year. Of course, many decisions impact the coming years.
Here's a quick rundown of how Presbyterian Polity works:
- The Pastor (Teaching Elder) and the Session (Ruling Elder) serve the local church, though the Pastor is technically not a member of the church but of the Presbytery.
- A Presbytery is a group of churches, usually grouped by region. Our church's Presbytery includes the Pee Dee as well as Columbia, York County, the Grand Strand, and more. It does not include the Upstate (Greenville, Anderson, Simpsonville, etc). Presbyteries meet 3 times a year. Typically, 1 Ruling Elder will accompany 1 Teaching Elder to Presbytery. Larger churches may have several Ruling Elders.
- Presbyteries can make memorials to Synod, asking Synod (aka, the Denomination) to consider actions that are appropriately addressed by the whole denomination. Much of the work of Synod is handled by Boards and Committees. Elders and other lay leaders serve on these Boards and Committees.
- By having Elders and Pastors serving together, all Presbyterians have a representative form of church government in which theological needs are addressed along side the needs of over 35,ooo church members in an orderly fashion, without the need for numerous congregational votes or power struggles. When it works, it works beautifully. (Image: ARPChurch.org)