Church officers; in the early part of the Old Testament the term designated the chiefs of tribes and later the men of special influence and dignity and the lay element in the Sanhedrin. In the New Testament the officers of the newly organized Church corresponded to the elders of the Jewish synagogues. In some modern Protestant churches the word denotes a class of officers intended to correspond in function to the elders of the Apostolic Church. In the Presbyterian Church the term includes the clergy, called the "teaching elders" but in ordinary language it is restricted to the "lay" or "ruling elders" who are chosen in each congregation to assist the minister in the management of church affairs. In the Methodist Church the term designates a minister entitled to preach and administer the sacraments.

New Catholic Dictionary

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