Below is the annual report for our Council of Elders at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA. It is part of our annual reports that will be made available to the congregation.
2014 marked a new transition in the leadership structure of FCBC. Our first group of elders was voted in back in January. Chris Ames, Doug Dolbow, Joe Martin, and Stan Kulig serve as elders along with Pastor Mark Wheeler. Pastor Mark serves as chairman of the elders and Chris Ames serves as vice-chair. We also voted in a new group of Deacons—J Noyes, Sheddy Campbell, Joe Trevathan, Clif Moran, Sid Floyd, and Bob Kasper.
The elders serve as the shepherds of the flock and the deacons assist them in caring for people. The elders have a specific job description. They lead, feed, care, protect, and model godliness for the congregation. In contrast, the deacons have a flexible job description. They seek to meet tangible and practical needs.
The elders and deacons met together on a couple of occasions to discuss how best to shepherd and care for the congregation. In past years, each deacon was responsible to care for those on their deacon care list. With a new structure, we realized we needed a new approach. We enlisted the help of those teaching the adult Sunday School classes and the leads of our small groups to help in shepherding and caring for people. After identifying those who were in the respective classes and small groups, the deacons could then focus on those who were on the fringe and uninvolved. The goal was twofold: (1) Practice an every-member-ministry where each one helps care for one another; and (2) Make sure no one slips through the cracks.
The elders meet twice a month on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays. They meet on the 2nd Thursday to pray for the needs of the body and to discuss the business of the church. Following their meeting, the elders publish a one-page summary in the bulletin in order to keep the congregation informed about what they are working on. The elders and their wives meet on the 4th Thursday for dinner and Bible study. We are currently working our way through a 12-part study on “The Church.” It is part of the “Church Leadership Series” published by the Center for Church-Based Training in Dallas, TX.
During 2014, the elders discussed how best to shepherd and care for the congregation in conjunction with the deacons, whether women could serve as deaconesses, how best to mentor young emerging leaders, long-range planning, and a staffing proposal.