During the installation service for elders and deacons, should there be a vow of confidentiality?

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We've just had a service in which elders and deacons were installed. We used the liturgical form found in the Psalter Hymnal. As a professional counselor, I noticed that nothing was said about officebearers keeping inviolate all that has been entrusted to them in confidence. In our litigious society, I find this very odd. Any thoughts?

This question is from a real-life situation to which Dr. Henry DeMoor has responded to based on his extensive knowledge of the Christian Reformed Church Order. The first answer given has been taken from the Christian Reformed Church Order Commentary written by Dr. DeMoor.

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Participant

Thanks for a great question. I looked in my Psalter Hymnal copy (1987 printing) and verified what you're telling me. I checked the index of synodical decisions and discovered that Synod 1989 did, in fact, adopt changes in the forms of ordination of ministers, elders, and deacons (Acts of Synod, 1989, p. 469). These changes can be found in the Agenda for Synod, 1989, p. 62. It is not surprising, therefore, that Psalter Hymnals printed in 1987 do not reflect these changes. The liturgical forms for the ordination of elders and deacons and ministers on the CRCNA website have been updated to reflect this decision.

It is very important that we recall the need for confidentiality in the work of officebearers at the moment they are installed. The congregation can be assured and those in office reminded, publicly, at least once a year. This will not only encourage parishioners to feel free in sharing necessary information with their pastoral leaders, but also function as a powerful defense against any possible lawsuits.

Thank you for the advice. How does this look, as a potential charge regarding confidentiality (wanting the congregation to be informed of the circumstances that would require confidentiality to be broken):

Elders and deacons, I charge you to keep in confidence the sensitive matters which congregants may share with you, only sharing with other leaders when needed to better care for those involved, and only reporting in circumstances involving evidence of a minor being neglected or abused, or of someone posing an immediate threat to themselves or to someone else.

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