Do Ministers Vote in Council Meetings?


I'm getting mixed answers here on the Network, and it sounds like this may be more of pertinent in Canada with its rules for non-profit organizations. I may have missed it, but I do not see a line in Church Order that explicitly says whether ministers may or may not vote. Thank you!

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Did you see this thread:

Should ministers (who are essentially "paid employees" of the church) chair council meetings or be members of the council?  It still may not have answered your specific question.  I just wanted you to be aware of it, which you may already have been. 



The bylaws of the congregation I currently serve clearly state that the minister is an "ex-officio member of Council." Therefore the minister doesn't have a vote.  That has been the case in the CRC congregations I have served as pastor (2) and pastoral intern (4), mainly in Ontario.


While it is possible too much is presumed, Article 35 B. a. in the church order simply says "In every church there shall be a council composed of the minister(s), the elders, and the deacons."  These are 'members' of the council and members of any board, consistory, council, deaconate, etc, have a vote unless they are somehow determined to be 'ex officio members'.  This may or may not settle anything, but in my many years as an elder and more recent years as a pastor it has been the norm for my experience in the U.S. (and now in Guam, also part of the U.S.)


I am a pastor in the US. I chair most council meetings, but there is an understanding that I do not vote unless there is a tie vote. In the few instances where we have had a tie vote, I have called for a time of prayer and hold the vote till the end of the meeting or, at the following meeting. That has worked well for us in the past. I feel that a council must own the decisions that are made, and not look to the pastor to take one side or the other. I saw the value of stopping to pray when I served on a committee at Synod a number of years ago. Rev. John Algera stopped the meeting a number of times when there was no clear consensus. Each time we stopped to to have prayer, attitudes changed and we reached a consensus. Prayer is a powerful means of reminding us that this is God's church.I praise God for lessons learned in the value of seeking Him in all things.


Thank you, everyone so far. Good reminder, Ken! ~Stan

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If the pastor chairs the council, then it is appropriate that he doesn't vote. This is following the practices laid out in Robert's Rules of Order. 

If the pastor is not chair of the council, he is a voting member. This is in accordance with CO art. 35. B. a. mentioned in Tom Van Engen's post. Leaving the pastor off of council, or making him/her an "ex-officio" member or some other kind of non-voting member, would create a power imbalance in the leadership of the church whereby, at least on paper, the elders and deacons are over the pastor. It is important that we realize that no branch of the council is supposed to be over another, only the council as a whole (all pastors, all elders, all deacons) can be over any one ordained office bearer. This effectively gives each officebearer a share in his/her own oversight - providing the freedom necessary for each officebearer to follow what they believe is God's call for them. The council stands as the highest earthly authority under God, and each officebearer has a share in that responsibility, even while submitting him/herself to the authority of the whole when intervention is necessary.

I think today we take the "paperwork" worth a grain of salt until things go wrong - then we scramble to understand and often further complicate things because we had things confused on paper the whole while. I've found that getting the details correct on paper is tremendously helpful when problems occur.


Thanks Ken and Scott, I remembered the part about charing the meeting and Roberts Rules of Order about ten seconds after I hit 'save'.