Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. - Mark 12:30 

MPPC & Governance
We believe the Church is the community through which God wants to bring love, healing, and growth to the human race, and to which he invites everyone to follow Jesus and join. MPPC is one church in many locations, pursuing our mission to bless the Bay Area for Jesus through a transforming relationship with Christ and authentic community with each other. We are part of the denomination ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO) and, in keeping with our Presbyterian heritage, our congregation elects elders to govern the church. Elders work closely with staff leadership and represent the congregation as a body across all campuses to provide oversight and governance of the church’s ministry, spiritual health, long-term strategy, finances, and administration. 

The church’s governing body is called the Session. Session focuses on discernment and strategy to guide the church’s biblical mission in the world; on the spiritual health of the congregation, including discipline; and on oversight of church resources and staff accomplishment through the senior pastor, to whom it delegates ministry leadership and church operations. 

Congregational Input 
The church is now inviting the congregation to recommend elder candidates for election at the upcoming Fall 2014 congregational meeting. MPPC revised its bylaws on June 1, 2014, as part of joining ECO and for greater ministry impact. The current Session (24 elders plus ordained staff) is overseeing a transition process this year under the new bylaws to a Session of nine elders plus the senior pastor: 

  • Session has elected a Nominating Advisory Committee(NAC), comprised of three current elders and fourmembers of the church not currently on Session: Chairs Bill Hooper and Kathy Welsh, Ashley Callahan, Kristin Geiser, Hardwin Mead, Teri O'Neel, and Allen PhippsThis team will prayerfully evaluate potential elder candidates recommended by the congregation, based on the role and responsibilities outlined in the church’s bylaws. Members of the NAC are ineligible for elder candidacy the year they serve on the committee.
  • The current Session will prayerfully consider each candidate recommended by the NAC in light of the needs of the session and will present the final nominated elders to the congregation for their approval. Because this is a transition year, the nine elders will be elected to terms of one-, two-, three-, and four-years. In future years, elders will serve four-year terms and may serve for up to two consecutive terms at a time. To provide continuity, five to six of the nine positions will be filled with members of the current Session.
  • The congregation will vote on the 9 candidates individually at MPPC’s annual congregational meeting in the fall.

To Make a NominationElder Candidate Form
If you would like to nominate a member of the church for elder, please review the description of the elder role and qualifications, discuss your intentions with the person you are nominating, and submit an Elder Nomination Form. Please fill out the Elder Candidate Form and return it to the church at NAC, MPPC, 950 Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park, CA 94025. If you have any questions or need assistance with your nomination, please email: [email protected] and a member of the Nominating Advisory Committee will respond to you. 

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity  in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 
– Ephesians 4:11-13

Call to be an Elder
Serving as elder involves a mutual discerning of call by a member of the church and by the Session, as well as the church body. This discernment involves a prayerful, Spiritled assessment based on the leadership needs of the church and the Session, and the gifts, wisdom, experience, and spiritual maturity of elder candidates. 

Elder Prerequisites

  • A member of MPPC in good standing and have attended for at least three to five years.
  • Participated in and led a small group, or served in a volunteer role for at least three years, preferably in a leadership role.
  • Well known and affirmed for candidacy by a pastoral member of staff.
  • Affirms and is in alignment with MPPC’s stated values, vision and mission.
  • Affirms and adheres to the Essential Tenetsof ECO.

Session Terms & Time Commitments

  • Elders will serve a four-year term and be eligible for re-appointment for one additional term before a mandatory one year rotation off Session.
  • 15-20 hours are estimated, on average per month, though the time needed will vary depending on the elder’s assignments, including leadership of committees. All elders participate in an annual (or semi-annual) retreat; monthly Session business meetings; other Session-sponsored meetings, committees or task forces and related conference calls; research and meeting preparation; reflection and study. 
  • Because issues can and do arise that require immediate attention, flexibility and additional hours may be required from time to time. 

Responsibilities of the Session & Elders 

As an ECO church, MPPC is governed by its Session. Comprised of nine elected elders and the senior pastor, Session has responsibility and authority for governing the congregation and guiding its mission for Christ in the world. In our Reformed tradition, Session ensures that the church, through delegation to staff and lay leaders, proclaims the Word, celebrates the Sacraments, and exercises discipline. Session also ensures the provision of worship and ministries, pastoral care and guidance for the congregation, and oversight of the spiritual, financial, and organizational health of the church. MPPC is committed to pursuing its mission as a church with God-honoring love, zeal, and excellence in all that we are and do. 

Therefore, specific Session elder responsibilities for leadership, governance and oversight include:


  • Worship, sound biblical teaching, and educational life of the congregation, including regular preaching of the Word
  • Regular celebration of the Lord’s Supper and administration of Baptism
  • Discipleship of the congregation and new believers, and nurturing of the spiritual life of the congregation
  • Leadership for the congregation in ministries of evangelism, compassion, and justice
  • Developing and nurturing relations with other congregations


  • Provision of pastoral care of members, including directing them for assistance or problem resolution
  • Providing for prayer in all areas of church life, including prayer for the sick
  • Open communication and outreach to the congregation, staff and community
  • Participating in biblically-based conflict resolution as outlined in Matthew 18, and in other discipline and restoration acts specified in the ECO Rules of Discipline (
  • Confronting false teaching and bearing witness against error in doctrine and practice/behavior
  • Serving in judicial matters related to the congregation as specified in the ECORules of Discipline


  • Collaborating with the senior pastor in discerning MPPC’s mission and strategy, setting organizational goals, making key decisions and strategic choices
  • Engaging in regular dialogue with the congregation for advice, feedback and communication, including meeting with site ministry teams and staff, inviting feedback, information meetings, and other useful forums.
  • Contributing to periodic evaluations of the Session and its effectiveness, and participating in ongoing learning to keep up-to-date on developments or best practices that further the church’s mission. 
  • Assisting in identifying and recruiting leaders who can make significant contributions to the work of the Session and the church.


  • Regularly reviewing progress and holding staff leadership accountable for church impact and execution of its mission, vision, and goals, and church ministry plans and outcomes, through dialogue and reports, metrics and other measures. 
  • Regularly reviewing progress and holding staff leadership accountable for church ministry operations, implementation, and compliance with sound policies and procedures, rigorous financial management, excellent staff management, staff development, and healthy and efficient operations and infrastructure.
  • Approving an annual budget and audit report, material business decisions, and monitoring the financial status of the church on a regular basis. 
  • Staying apprised of and meeting all legal and fiduciary responsibilities (duties of care and loyalty). Preparing for, and participating actively in, Session and committee meetings. 
  • Ensuring an accurate and updated record of church members and baptisms.
  • Counseling and providing spiritual and practical support to the senior pastor in his role as head of staff. Encouraging and praying for the senior pastor, staff and volunteers.
  • Providing an annual and other performance evaluations of the senior pastor.
  • Serving on, and leading, committees or task forces; taking on special assignments.
  • Drawing from gifts and expertise in the congregation, other churches, and the community in helping MPPC fulfill its mission.
  • Acting as an “ambassador” for MPPC to the community, church at large, and the world.

Elder Characteristics

A woman or man of sound moral character and deep spiritual maturity, based on the qualifications described in 1 Timothy 3:2-7, Titus 1:6-9, summarized as possessing the personal  characteristics of:

  • Being above reproach (lead by example, free of patterns of sin); temperate (self- controlled, un-enslaved, free of excesses); prudent(sober, wise); respectable (well ordered, honorable behavior); hospitable (unselfish); able to teach; not addicted to wine (or other addictions); limits one’s liberty for the sake of others; not quick-tempered,un-contentious; free of the love of money; manages own household (well-ordered healthy family life);not prideful; good reputation with outsiders (non-believers); not self-willed (not selfish but servant-minded); loving what is good (desires the will of God above all else); just, devout (devoted followers of Jesus, seeking to conform to His image, committed to prayer, worship, scripture); holding fast to the trustworthy word (stable, obedient, seeking to be controlled by the Holy Spirit).
  • Skilled in conflict resolution
  • Reliability, integrity and humble teachability

Biblically literate and a Spirit-led, prayerful, wise disciple of Jesus. Has a sound understanding of the dynamics and practices of spiritual discernment, that is, the ability to recognize and respond to the presence and the activity of God, both in every day moments and in the larger decisions. As an individual, is committed to discerning and doing the will of God as it is revealed through the help of the Holy Spirit and, as a potential member of Session, would be similarly committed to lead through group spiritual discernment.

Demonstrated ability to cultivate relationships and to persuade, convene, facilitate, and build consensus among diverse individuals, manage key projects or assignments, able to communicate effectively, and able to exhort sound doctrine. Skillful in instruction or teaching by possessing both the requisite knowledge and the ability to communicate it to others.

Is a critical, insightful thinker with effective communication skills and problem-solving abilities, and can assess, identify and confront issues skillfully and appropriately. Demonstrates the relevant gifts, skills, and practical leadership experience in organizational management, administration, organizational savvy in strategy, planning and operations, knowledge of and experience in governance and oversight, and important functional areas of expertise (e.g., law, finance, human resources). 

Possesses the tangible quality of being able to work well with, to get along with, and contribute to the board functioning as a high performing team—a team that works in relational harmony, with common purpose and goals, trust, respect, and mutual accountability. Adds to the effectiveness of the board, by being able to contribute selflessly, and to submit to and be part of the team effort of the board.

Able to speak truth in love, able to disagree but not be contentious, able to identify and resolve problems, able to enter into difficult exchanges to defend the faith or MPPC or people in ways that preserve the church community. Possessing high self-awareness, self-reflection and selfcriticism as appropriate in the varying situations, roles, and responsibilities of Session.

Possesses social awareness of the unique cultural fabric of the Bay Area in this generation and a broad knowledge of communities within and outside of MPPC, as the context for ministry. Creative and thoughtful in their approach to reach, connect with, and care for people in the community. 

Additional Considerations in the Elder Candidate Evaluation Process 

  • Experience and knowledge (through past ministry involvement) about the major ministries of MPPC, the congregation, the leadership team, the operations, the staff, the finances, and the plans and strategies of MPPC.
  • As with its staff teams, MPPC values a diverse board team that reflects the congregation and communities it serves, is diverse in ways of thinking and approaching problems, and whose members have complementary skills.