Article 34 — Chairman and clerk
In all assemblies there shall be a chairman and a clerk. The chairman’s task is to present and explain clearly the matters to be dealt with and ensure that every one observes due order in speaking; he shall deny the floor to those who argue about minor things or who let themselves be carried away and cannot control their emotions, and discipline those who refuse to listen. His task shall cease when the assembly ends. The clerk shall keep an accurate record of all things worthy of being recorded.
This article deals mainly with the task of the chairman. It first sets out what this task includes:
1. He must present those matters to be dealt with. To this end it is essential that he is informed in time about incoming mail, and makes some study of difficult matters on the agenda.
2. He must ensure that the meeting is held in an orderly fashion. The discussions should not be disorderly. The best way is to hold the discussions in one or two rounds, so that during the second round proposals may be expected from those who participate in the discussion.
3. He mustsilence those who behave in a disorderly way, and if necessary reprove them. Even at ecclesiastical meetings all things should be done decently and in order.
In the second place this article deals with the duration of the position of the chairman. It says that this ceases when the assembly ends.
Our churches do not have the position of a ‘moderator’ or the equivalent. They want to be on their guard against hierarchy.
Even the position of the chairman of the consistory is not a permanent one, although it is entrusted to the minister. This many be proved by the fact that
if a congregation has more than one minister, they chair in turns (Article 36).
This does not exclude the possibility that certain documents are signed by the chairman and the clerk on behalf of one of the assemblies after it has ended. Cases like that however – e.g. when an attestation has to be issued – must be dealt with formally during the meeting.
Apart from the chairman a clerk shall be appointed. He must write the minutes or the Acts which have to be adopted by the full meeting.
The Church Order does not speak about a complete ‘moderamen’, a classical or synodical board. As a matter of course, every assembly has the right to appoint a number of officials in addition to the chairman and the clerk if the workload should prove to be too much for just those two persons.