“The Council of Elders of the UFMCC is that body authorized by the General Conference to serve in a pastoral role and direct the spiritual life of the Fellowship.”
-MCC Bylaws, Article V.E.3, lines 445-446
How are Elders in MCC authorized?
The first MCC Board of Elders was the board of directors of MCC Los Angeles and was all volunteers. After the first General Conference, Elders were elected by the lay and clergy delegates, with an appointment process for vacancies in between conferences. Eventually, some Elders were full-time on staff. They served on a General Council, which was the fiduciary body of MCC at that time. About 10 years ago, we created a system where Elders were nominated and elected by Regions. Then, in 2010, we simplified our structure, creating an elected Governing Board and a Council of Elders. Elders are no longer elected but are appointed by the Moderator, approved by the Governing Board, and affirmed by the General Conference. (Article V.E.3 of the MCC By-laws)
Who can be an Elder?
An Elder can be any member in good standing of MCC, who meets the qualifications, and is appointed by the Moderator. Those qualifications are:
“Elders must be those individuals of obvious spiritual quality and leadership who are mature, have sound judgment, have a proven record of accomplishment as lay or clergy members within the Fellowship, and have successful experience in envisioning and strategic planning for the future. Elders must be excellent communicators, skilled motivators and teachers, self-motivated and devoted to continuous learning. Further, Elders must be capable of understanding and working within sound fiscal guidelines, be sensitive to cultural differences, and be able and willing to embrace diversity. It is desirable that the Council of Elders reflect the diversity of the Fellowship.” Article V.E.3.a of the MCC By-laws
What do Elders do today in MCC?
“The primary responsibility of Elders shall be to give pastoral leadership and care to enable the Fellowship in our spiritual journey. The Elders shall exercise spiritual and pastoral authority to build a shared vision for the UFMCC, prepare UFMCC for the future, and support UFMCC’s strategic direction. The Elders serve as official representatives of the Fellowship in the areas of public and community relations; provide oversight of and support to congregations; consult with churches on issues related to church development; and fulfill other ecclesial and ceremonial duties.” Article V.E.3.b. of the MCC By-laws
Elders have two primary roles:
1) As members of the Council of Elders, Elders have an ecclesial role: they oversee the affiliation of churches; and they have authority over the Clergy Manual and protocols for authorizing MCC clergy. Elders then are key to setting standards and boundaries, based on the by-laws, by which churches and clergy are represented at General Conference. Elders also oversee the appointment of Network leaders and relate to churches through the Network system.
2) Elders have a spiritual/pastoral and teaching role in the Church: Elders are called upon to develop leadership programs, teach at summits, preach at MCC conferences, church anniversaries, and support MCC in terms of increasing church strength and health; and in strategically supporting new church starts and emerging ministries. They are looked to as spiritual and pastoral leaders by the pastors, lay leaders and people of MCC. They may also be asked by the Moderator to represent and to speak for the denomination publicly.
What do Elders “mean” to the people of MCC?
Elders are gifted individuals who are highly esteemed, respected and who are looked to for wisdom, for embodying and articulating with passion the values, vision, mission, and faith that MCC holds dear. We expect Elders to challenge us, to offer spiritual, pastoral and organizational leadership. They are also a symbol of the unity-in-diversity of MCC. As the Council of Elders, they form a kind of “collegium” of support for the Moderator. Elders also embody the continuity of the founding narrative of MCC connecting generations of servant leadership.