Seventh-Day Adventists/Title in the Church


QUESTION: My husband and I are life-long SDA's and have been accustomed to the designation of Elder being given to an ordained pastor, ie; Elder F. D. Nichol.  We understand that there are local persons ordained as local elders which is not the same.  My husband is one such person in that he was ordained as a local elder some years ago.  Currently he does not serve in that capacity because of age related issues.  We have a new pastor who refers to my husband as well as current local elders in our church as Elder.  Is this correct?  
My husband told him that he was not an elder and his reply was "once an elder always an elder".  He is using Elder in place of Brother or Mr.   Our pastor is not from the USA and perhaps it was the custom in his country.  What is your take on this situation.  We are uncomfortable with it because of our custom.  Do you have a suggestion or a quotation that we could use.  Thank You.

ANSWER: Joyce,

I'm not exactly qualified to answer this question from an authoritative perspective, but I can certainly give you my opinion based on my own understanding.  It is my feeling that the title of Elder is more honorary and applied out of simple respect rather than something that is earned based on past experience, performance, or education.

As such, I agree with your pastor that "once an [ordained] elder, always an elder" -- as long as the standards associated with being an elder continue to be upheld by the person so designated.  The only difference I see is that those outside of this country are from a more formal society which is accustom to using and being addressed by titles.  People in this country are more informal and tend to drop titles which are not more directly earned by the individual.

May God richly bless you in direct proportion to your desire to know, and to do, the full truth even as it is in Yehsh' haMshyach, Jesus Christ, The Messiah, our Lord, and our Saviour.  Awmane!


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I appreciate what you have said and agree with you mostly, however, believe that perhaps I didn't state the question properly.  Let me try again.  The point is that the title of Elder only belongs to an ordained  pastor--not a local elder.  Isn't there a difference between a local church elder and a minister or pastor who has been ordained to the ministry?  My question relates to the title of Elder being used from the pulpit, in letters, emails, etc. when referring to a local elder in the church.  Our pastor has not been ordained, therefore, no one calls him Elder.  I don't know if he was ever ordained as a local church elder.  I hope my explanation has made my question more clear.  Thank you.


I understood the basis for your question and my answer remains the same.  Again, it is a matter more of culture than anything else.  Other countries treat the title of Elder as anyone specifically ordained into that role -- regardless of whether that ministry is for a local church or, for example, as a conference evangelist.

This country, the United States, tends to treat the title of Elder from a more prestigious standpoint and, I feel, that is a matter of pride which is just one of the thorns in this church's side.  The Bible makes no distinction between an elder called to serve the local church ministry and one called to go on missionary journeys.

May God richly bless you in direct proportion to your desire to know, and to do, the full truth even as it is in Yehsh' haMshyach, Jesus Christ, The Messiah, our Lord, and our Saviour.  Awmane!


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Dave L Clark


I can answer most any question which is truly Bible-centric. I make this distinction because there is much which is considered biblical; but, which, is actually based only upon the traditions of men. However, I will also state this caveat: not all traditions are necessarily "bad" by definition. Otherwise, the subject about which I am passionate is The Law of God. There is much misconception in this area. In point of fact, I, myself, only woke up a bit over 10 years ago (2002) to what is truly meant by the Law of God and how that relates to Salvation. This, of course, is a touchy subject when you start mixing the Law of God with the subject of Salvation -- which, everyone should know, is a gift of God, by grace, through faith and not of works; lest any man should boast (Eph. 2:8,9). I am thankful that God the Holy Spirit has opened, and is opening, my eyes to these Truths.


I have taken Bible classes every year since the first grade through 4-year college level and study the Bible every week with others in Sabbath School. I have also continued studying the Bible, on my own, throughout my life -- particularly these last 10+ years. Therefore, I consider myself to have about 48+ years of both formal and informal Bible experience upon which to draw.

I am a current member in good and full standing with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. I am also a level-7 member of Yahoo!Answers in the Religion & Spirituality group. Lastly, though not a related discipline, I am also a member at because of my professional standing as a computer programmer of more than 35 years.

"The Truth About the Law of God" by Dave L Clark I is a 298-page book available at Some of my writings may also be found on the following websites: << >>; << >>; and, << >>.

I have 3 years of formal college and a 4-year college equivalence degree in Information Technology. Otherwise, I am not formally credentialed in Bible doctrine or theology. However, when did God ever say that He only speaks to or through theologian-type or highly-placed sources?

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