In our transition to the RCA, Intown is using new and unfamiliar language to describe the levels of church leadership. These levels have all previously existed in our church; we're just now calling them something different.
For example, we're no longer a "Presbyterian" church even though in our new denomination we still operate within and relate to local, regional, and national entities.
We should put regional in quotes because while the RCA is divided by regions, like in the PCA, in the RCA our "region" is non-geographic. We are part of the City Classis, which is a national governing body made up of churches in similar urban and college town settings as Intown is.
But, what is a classis? A classis is similar to a presbytery in our old nomenclature, while a consistory is similar to a session.
In Presbyterian circles you have the local Session, the regional Presbytery, and the national General Assembly while in Reformed churches you have the local Consistory, the regional Classis, and the national General Synod.
"Consistory" still sounds weird to me, but only because I'm not used to it. If I hadn't been a presbyterian for 25 years then "presbytery" and "session" would probably sound weird.
One more clarification: in presbyterian circles the local "session", at least in a PCA context is made up of only the pastors and elders and these are subdivided into "teaching" and "ruling" elders. They are more or less considered to be one office with different roles: "teaching" and "ruling." This is called the "two-office" view where there are two kinds of elders occupying one office, along with deacons in church leadership.
In the RCA we practice a "three office" view where there are pastors, elders, and deacons. These three offices make up the "consistory" - the local church leadership. Each has different but somewhat overlapping responsibilities and in our new context it is not required that these office holders be male-only.
So, from now on when we print "Consistory Meeting" in the bulletin you will know what this means. This is what we formerly called our "Session" meeting, though we have included the deacons in this meeting for quite some time now. And, as always, these meetings are open to you! We'd love to hear your feedback and questions, or if you'd simply like to come and observe consider yourself invited.
Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out when we are meeting to to let us know you are coming.