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As there were elders for the government of the people in Old Testament times, so the New Testament church provided for persons with particular gifts to share in governing and ministry.
Elders are chosen by the people. Together with ministers of the Word and Sacrament, they exercise leadership, government and discipline, and have responsibilities for the life of a particular church as well as the church-at-large, including ecumenical relationships. They shall serve faithfully as members of the Session. When elected commissioners to higher governing bodies, elders participate and vote with the same authority as ministers of the Word and Sacrament, and they are eligible for any office.
Their manner of life should be a demonstration of the Christian gospel, both within the church and in the words.
It is the duty of elders, individually and jointly, to strengthen and nurture the faith and life of the congregation committed to their charge. Together with the pastor, they should encourage the people in the worship and service of God; equip and renew them for their tasks within the church and for their mission in the world; visit and comfort and care for the people, with special attention to the poor, the sick, the lonely, and those who are oppressed. They should inform the pastor and Session of those persons and structures which may need special attention. They should cultivate their ability to teach the Bible and may be authorized to supply places which are without the regular ministry of the Word and Sacrament. Those duties which all Christians are bound to perform by the law of love are especially incumbent upon elders because of their calling to office, and are to be fulfilled by them as official responsibilities.