Monthly Archives: February 2023

Grace Covenant 2023 Church Officer Nominations

Nominations of new candidates for the offices of Elder and Deacon will be opened on March 1 and received through Easter Sunday, April 9. All nominations will be received digitally. A link at the bottom of this page will take you to the nomination form. Simply use the drop box to select the office for which you would like to nominate a candidate, fill the designated blanks with the name of the candidate you want to nominate, provide your name and email, and click submit.

We invite all members of Grace Covenant to submit nominations for offices of Elder and Deacon. But before making any nominations, we ask that you please read through the information on this page.

Importance of Electing Qualified Officers

The Apostle Paul teaches us that the desire to serve as an officer in the church is a worthy ambition. He heartily endorses it. He then goes on in 1 Timothy 3 to explain the demanding requirements needed to be an Elder or Deacon in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s sort of a good news-bad news approach. The good news is that the ambition to spiritual leadership is a worthy one. The bad news (which, of course is not really bad, only demanding) is that it is not for everyone who desires it. Those who aspire to office in the church must meet the highest standards, and must be examined and tested.

The reason for such high standards for Elders and Deacons, Paul says, is that the church is the very “household of God…the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15) Paul had – and so should we have – an exalted view, and a vision for the church as the people of God (1 Peter 2:10), the new Israel of God (Galatians 6:161 Peter 2:9), the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16), and the pillar and foundation of the great truths of the gospel, (1 Timothy 3:15) Therefore, it’s imperative that those who lead the people of God have the high qualifications listed by Paul in 1 Timothy and Titus.

Finally, Jesus entrusted the church with the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19), meaning that by the preaching of the word and the exercise of church discipline, the church leadership has the authority to receive people into the visible kingdom of God, as well as put people outside the visible kingdom, if necessary. Hence, spiritually wise, discerning men are needed for this important responsibility.

Officer election is not to be taken lightly.

Priorities & Questions for Evaluating Officer Candidates

All church officer candidates ought to be qualified, possessing both abilities pertaining to the respective office and knowledge of Biblical doctrines, BUT these are not the only essential qualification factors. Potential church officers ought to be evaluated through the lenses of the following attributes before being nominated. While all of the attributes listed are essential, they are listed below in their order of importance:


  • Does the candidate exhibit the character required for the respective office?
  • Does the candidate live a life that is becoming of a follower of Jesus Christ?


  • Does the candidate exhibit a clear understanding of the Gospel?
  • Does the candidate hold clear doctrinal, ethical, and moral convictions that are in-line with the standards of the Presbyterian Church in America?
  • Does the candidates life reflect these convictions?


  • Does the candidate care about others?
  • If the candidate is married, how does he treat his wife? What is his relationship with his children like?
  • Have you experienced or witnessed the candidate offering encouragement or selfless service to others?


  • Does the candidate possess the necessary gifts and talents required to effectively function in this office?


  • Is the officer candidate in line with the values of this particular church?
  • Does the officer candidate have a harmonious relationship with the other church officers?
  • Does the officer canidate have an axe to grind with another church officer, or with one of the pastors or church staff?
  • Does the officer candidate have a personal agenda, whether doctrinal, social, or political issue?

Defining the Church Offices

In the New Testament, our Lord at first collected His people out of different nations, and united them to the household of faith by the ministry of extraordinary officers, called Apostles, who received extraordinary gifts of the Spirit and who were agents by whom God completed His revelation to His Church. Apostles and gifts related to new revelation have no successors since God completed His revelation at the conclusion of the Apostolic Age.

The ordinary and perpetual classes of office in the Church are Elders and Deacons.

Within the class of Elder are two orders: Teaching Elders, often called “Pastors”, and Ruling Elders, who are not to be viewed as less than “pastoral” and have no lesser authority than Teaching Elders.

The Elders – both Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders – jointly share the government and spiritual oversight of the Church. It the responsibility of the Elders to jointly watch diligently over the flock committed to their charge, so that no corruption of doctrine or compromise of morals are able to take root. The Elders must take oversight and exercise government and discipline of the particular congregation, but also share in the cultivation of the Church more broadly through participation in the regional Presbytery and nationally as part of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America

The office of Deacon is not one of rule, but rather of service both to the physical and spiritual needs of the people. This office is one of sympathy and service, after the example of the Lord Jesus; it expresses also the communion of saints, especially in their helping one another in time of need. To the office of Deacon, which is spiritual in nature, shall be chosen men of spiritual character, honest repute, exemplary lives, brotherly spirit, warm sympathies, and sound judgment. In the discharge of their duties the Deacons are under the supervision and authority of the Session (the Presbyterian term for a Council of Elders).

No one who holds office in the Church ought to usurp authority, or receive any official titles of spiritual preeminence, except such as are expressed in the Scriptures.

~ adapted from the PCA Book of Church Order (BCO), chapters 7, 8, and 9

Qualifications for Officers in the Church

Sometimes there is confusion about what qualities and qualifications are required of those who will serve in the offices of Elder and Deacon. What is the difference between Elders and Deacons? And, though there are many qualities that are shared by both Deacons and Elders, there are some qualifications unique to each office. The video below offers an excellent brief explanation of the differences:

The qualifications for Elder and Deacon are listed by the Apostles Paul & Peter in 1 Timothy 3Titus 1, and 1 Peter 5Please read through these passages prayerfully and carefully before submitting your nominations. Generally, and briefly, they are as follows:

The Qualifications for Elder are:

*Above Reproach. Is the candidate living in such a way that no one can point a finger at him for ungodly habits or actions? This is first and foremost, and the following characteristics simply amplify this quality.

*Husband of One Wife. Literally, this means a “one-womaned man.” Is the candidate, if married, a loving and faithful husband; or, if single, is he above reproach in his relationships with women? The main issue here is one of purity in thought, word, and deed, toward women, and faithfulness to one’s wife.

*Temperate & Self Controlled. Is the candidate self-control-led in all areas of his life? Does he over-indulge himself in any areas?

*Prudent. Is the candidate a good thinker, reasonable, wise?

*Respectable. Is the candidate respected by his peers, and is he a good model of Christianity for others?

*Hospitable. Literally means “loving strangers.” Does he meet people well, and is his home open to minister to Christians, as well as non-Christians?

*Able to Teach. This is not the gift of teaching, per se, but an ability to communicate Biblical truth and counsel to groups or individuals.

*Not Addicted to Alcohol. Does he have any habits he cannot control, particularly in the area of food or drink?

*Not Quarelsome. Is he prone to arguments with family or friends?

*Gentle & Uncontentious. The antithesis of quarrelsome, having an evenness of temper, and a reasonable, teachable spirit.

*Free from the Love of money. Is the accumulation of material wealth a primary motivation and object of concern for this candidate?

*Manage Household Well. Much could be said here, but basically this deals with the man’s ability to lead his family, to teach his children the truths of Scripture, and to have the respect of both wife and children.

*Not a New Convert. Paul says new believers in leadership are especially prone to attacks and resultant harm or scandal.

*Good Reputation Outside the Church. Does the candidate have a good reputation at his place of employment, in his neighborhood, and at his place of recreation?

The Qualifications for Deacon are:

(Some are the qualifications for Deacons are tha same as for Elder. This list below includes those qualities not listed under qualifications for an elder.)

*Dignity & Worthy of Respect. Closely related to the characteristic of being “above reproach,” and of a “good reputation.” Is the candidate a man who is respected for his devotion to the Lord?

*Sincere. Is the candidate honest, or does he tend to say one thing and mean another? Is he given to over exaggeration in order to impress others?

*Love What is Good. Does the candidate look for, and expect, the best in other people? Are his values consistent with Biblical values?

*Hold to the Deep Truths of the Faith with Clear Conscience. While Deacons are not required to be “able to teach”, they must know what they believe, and hold firmly to it.  Much of their ministry will be effected by their beliefs.

Note: The major difference in qualifications for elder and deacon is NOT of character or of spiritual maturity, but essentially only in gifting and calling. BOTH Elders & must demonstrate consistently high standards of character and godliness. While both Deacons & Elders must “hold to the truths of the faith with a clear conscience”, Elders must also demonstrate a clear understanding of the doctrines of our faith with an ability to teach.

Resource: 4 Reasons for Biblical Leadership Qualifications, an article by PCA Minister Brian Cosby, written for Christward Collective.

Procedure for Electing Officers

Preparation: Church members should prayerfully read through the following passages: 1 Timothy 3.1-13, Titus 1.5-9, and 1 Peter 5.1-5 before submitting a nomination.

Nomination. An officer must be nominated by those who are members in good standing of Grace Covenant. These people should have some relationship with the candidate, having been ministered to by the candidate in some way, e.g., through friendship, small group involvement, committee work,  etc…

Initial Screening. The Elders of the church have the responsibility of evaluating all nominees initially, for their fitness for service.

Interview. Each nominee is interviewed by the Session (Elders) in the areas of Biblical qualifications and call to the office.

Training. Nominees have the right to refuse the nomination, but should they accept it, they will begin an officer training program led by the Pastor(s). This program involves training the nominees in the areas of personal piety (spiritual formation), sound theology, church government, philosophy of gospel-centered ministry, and practical ministry (respective to each office).

Examination. After the officer training has been completed, the nominee still has the right to refuse the nomination. Should he wish to proceed, he is then tested by written and oral examination conducted by the Pastor and Session.

Election. If the nominees are approved, their names go the congregation for election. A simple majority vote of a quorum of members present at a congregational meeting is needed to elect the nominees.

Installation. New officers are then duly installed and ordained according to the procedures in the Presbyterian Church in America (P.C.A.) Book of Church Order, Chapter 24.

Officer Nomination Form

The nomination and election of qualified church officers is vital to the health of any church. It is not a matter to be taken lightly. But it is the privilege given to church members to select and to elect those who will guide and serve their church.

A couple of Notes:

  • ALL candidates for church offices must be active members of Grace Covenant for at least one year prior being nominated.
  • Please DO NOT speak with the candidate about your nomination. Even if there is a question regarding length of time of church membership. We request that you leave that to the Session as part of their responsibility of initial screening of candidates in this nomination process.
  • Grace Covenant Church members may submit more than one candidate for nomination to each office.

To submit a nomination for Elder or Deacon, please click: Grace Covenant 2023 Officer Nomination Form

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A Pastor’s Note to Grace Covenant – February 2, 2023

It is an exciting time at Grace Covenant.

We are about to embark on another week of hosting our neighbors-in-need, through our partnership with Community of Faith Mission (COFM). COFM will arrive following our morning worship service on Sunday, February 5, and set up will take place upon their arrival (or after the service). Guests will arrive in the evening. Each day, between Sunday February 5 and Saturday February 11, guests will check in at church at dinnertime, share a meal, and settle in for the evening. Each morning our guests will be helped to their destinations for that day. Volunteers are essential, not only to serve, but to connect with these neighbors in a personal way. If you have not yet signed up, and you are willing, please contact Peter McHenry, who is coordinating Shelter Week for Grace Covenant. Regardless of your skill level, or lack of skills, your presence is powerful and important.

As I write, several men from our church are participating in a statewide Men’s Retreat at Rockbridge… In coming weeks we will be providing info about some fun opportiunities for children and families, as well as activities for our middle school and high school students…

But today I want to take a moment to touch on two particular items:

Worship @ Grace Covenant

First, having been monitoring attendance at our weekly worship services, both throughout the Fall and now into the New Year, the Elders have made the decison that it is time for the church to resume our regualr 2-service weekly schedule. We will not jump right into it, but we are preparing to return to our regular 2-service schedule the first Sunday in March, or Sunday March 5. Beginning that Sunday, worship will again be offered at 8:30 and 11am, with Education Hour in-between, at 10am.

No doubt, some may wonder: “Why this change?” We know that many have enjoyed the energy of the single-service, as well as the opportunity to see some folks that you may not see as often when we are in 2-services. Most of our Elders have enjoyed those aspects of the single service as well. But there are practical reasons why we feel it is time to return to two services.

First, the singe-service schedule has always been intended to be a temporary thing. Coming out of COVID, and church attendance down (not just at Grace Covenant, but all across the country) we were able to fit into one service; and with all of the families that are new to Grace Covenant, we wanted to provide an opportunity for people to connect. As Fall progressed, into Advent, and now into the New Year, our Sunday attendance continues to grow – both with long-time members returning more frequently and new families looking to become part of Grace Covenant.

As attendance has increased, finding seats has been a bit more challenging at times. Are there still seats available in our sanctuary each week? Most Sundays, yes. But as attendance began to rise, I started to stand in the back of the sanctuary as the services were beginning. What I noticed was that many families, if they are of more than 2 or 3, are often forced to split up to find seats. From a church growth standpoint, this is a good problem. But it is not ideal for families. Related to that, I have done some research about church health trends in a Post-COVID world. I won’t go into all the (boring) details, but for the sake of understanding I will share one point. Church health experts, pre-COVID, found as a general rule that when a church reached 80% of seating capacity, it eventually had a negative effect on guests, including those looking for a church. The more rural an area, the lower the percentage for comfortable seating. It is widely called the 80% Rule (though it is more of a principle than a rule). Studies are showing that Post-COVID, what was once the 80% Rule, is now more like the 60% Rule (or 65% among certain demographics). People have become more conscious about space. We see it all around – people still stand several feet apart in grocery store lines, when just a few years ago people stood much closer together. While we have not consistently surpasseed 80% capacity, we are almost always well above the 60% capacity.

Now, if this was only anecdotal sociological mumbo-jumbo, we likely would not have made the change at this time. Not on that basis alone. But it is not just about data. We have been made aware of a number of long-time, and much-loved, church members who are uncomfortable in the more crowded space. Though some of them are attending in-person, at times, their presence is not without some personal angst about potential health risks. We are also aware of others who just don’t feel it is wise, for them personally, to return to in-person services until we resume offering 2-services. It is, in no small part, out of love for them, as well as our desire to make room for others the Lord is bringing to Grace Covenant, that we have made the decision to return to the regular 2-service schedule.

In coming weeks we will be offering more details, but we plan to ease into the 2-service schedule. One thing of note is that, for the month of March, we will plan for Children’s Church, Kid’s Quest (Catechism), and likely even nursery, to be offered during the 8:30 service only. Churches around the country have been slow to recoup volunteers for ministry. Though thankful for the many of you who do volunteer, Grace Covenant has not been imune to this challenge. We see it most evident in our need for nursery and children’s ministry volunteers. Our hope – and even expectation – is that we will see the growth in the number of volunteers steadily increase to enable us to provide the full range of children’s minstries equally at both services.

NOTE: If you would be interested in helping with the nursery from time to time, or working with the children in some capacity, please contact Mary Slade, Nursery Coordinator, or Nathan Luzwick, Children’s Ministry Director. Nathan and Mary would be delighted to hear from you, and they will happily help you get plugged in to serve our Mission to the Next Generation. And if you have questions about resuming our 2-service schedule, please speak with any of our Elders.

New Sermon Series

Ths second thing I want to touch on is our upcoming sermon series. We have now come to the end of our study of the Book of Hebrews. This coming Sunday we will focus on preparing ourselves to come to the table. But beginning Sunday February 12, we will begin a study of the Book of Jonah. The series will be titled In the Wake of Relentless Grace. As always, we will dig into the bible text each week. In this series, however, we will camp in some of the same verses for multiple weeks, looking at the passages from different angles, which will reveal to us that there is much more to Jonah than just the familiar Fish Story. As one commentator notes:

“The moralistic way this story is often told, emphasizing Jonah’s disobedience and God’s surreal punishment, can mask some of the other important dimensions of the story.”

My goal will be to uncover at least some of those oft neglected dimensions. As we do, we will learn not only more about this runaway Prophet, we will also learn more about God and his grace – AND, we will discover some important things about ourselves in the process.

As we have done in the past, we will provide some resources that can help deepen our understanding and appreciation of God’s Word. Let me start today by sharing a video overview of Jonah produced by the Bible Project:

This video does a good job of providing an in-depth overview, and it touches upon some of the themes in the Book of Jonah. That said, the themes in Jonah – including some we will explore – are far from being exhausted in this video. As we study this book together, throughout the Winter and Spring, I hope we will all be reminded that “Jonah is NOT just for kids!” (To borrow a phrase from an old cereal commercial.)

That’s all for now. I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday. And just as the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, so I say to you: “I do not cease to give thanks to God for you, remembering you always in my prayers…” (Ephesians 1.16)

Grace & Peace,

Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor

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