The presbyterian pattern of church government vests governing authority primarily in elected laypersons known as elders. In fact, the word presbyterian comes from the Greek word for elder. Elders are chosen by the people. Together with ministers of the Word and Sacrament, they exercise leadership, government, and discipline and have responsibilities for the life of the church. They shall serve faithfully as members of the session.
The body of elders elected to govern a particular congregation is called a session. They are elected by the congregation and in one sense are representatives of the other members of the congregation. On the other hand, their primary charge is to seek to discover and represent the will of Christ as they govern. The session is the smallest, most local governing body.