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The Waldensian churches are organized according to the presbyterian-synodal system, as are, though in different forms, the majority of Protestant churches.
The word presbyterian is used because the governing of the church community is not entrusted to a bishop but to a council of elders (New Testament term); synodal because the Synod is the governing assembly of every part of the life of the church as a whole: doctrinal, disciplinary, administrative.

The organization of church life is governed by assemblies. Every church has its own assembly which elects the council of elders responsible for the handling of local issues, the number varying according to the size of the community. A number of these who are entrusted with the task of preaching and teaching, are called pastors although there are also lay preachers who help with the preaching and catechists who help with the teaching. The pastors, who can also be women, can marry.

The churches of a region form a regional assembly called Circuit; these are divided into Districts, which has an assembly called the District Conference. Lastly, the general Synod, made up of representatives of the single local churches, the Circuits and the Districts, governs the church as a whole. Pastors cannot exceed 50% of the members of the Synod assembly.

la Tavola valdeseAt the conclusion of the Synod, an executive and administrative body of seven members is elected, by ancient tradition called the Waldensian Board, presided over by a moderator. To avoid the danger of the centralization of authority or/and personalisms, all offices have a seven year limit.

The Waldensian and Methodist churches do not have religious orders but, like all Protestant churches,have many voluntary associations of a non-clerical nature. Most of these originated in Anglo-Saxon countries in the nineteenth century:Youth movements, Women's Unions and Federations, Protestant Teachers' Associations, Local Preachers' Unions.Each are independent bodies, some having a representative at the Synod.

© 2005 Chiesa Evangelica Valdese