Blantyre Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) yesterday voted to accommodate retired church elders and deacons in administrative and kirk sessions.
Administrative session is the highest decision-making body at a congregation while kirk session is a church court that hears disciplinary issues at congregational level.
The decision comes amid tension in some congregations following a Blantyre City Presbytery resolution that was sent to the synod as an overture that retired church elders and deacons should not attend administrative and kirk sessions.
According to the CCAP Blantyre Synod constitution, church elders and deacons serve two consecutive terms of three years each and go on a three-year break before bouncing back if elected. The retired church elders act as advisers to serving leaders but have no voting powers.
Presenting the resolution to the 31st Biennial meeting at St. Michael and All Angels Multi-purpose Hall in Blantyre, Policy Committee chairperson The Reverend Roy Zingani said his committee was recommending to the meeting that retired church elders should be allowed to attend session meetings but should not be obliged or compelled to do so.
“Retired church elders and deacons are not barred or prevented from attending session meetings, but may be required to attend such meetings when required to help resolve difficult issues,” he said.
During the meeting some delegates proposed exceptions to the retirement rule for rural presbyteries where it is difficult to groom leaders.
“I propose that retirement should be an option and not a must because in rural presbyteries there are situations when we have a generation that is too young to take over leadership,” said The Reverend Billy Gama.
While agreeing that the committee encountered such a situation in Chingale Presbytery, the Reverend Zingani said retirement gives “the church a chance to discover new talents.” n