PROTOCOL GUIDELINES FOR CHURCH LEADERS
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a mission to connect with people at all levels in society. To reach leaders of communities and nations, church leaders and members must follow certain universally acceptable behavior and principles of civility known as protocol.
The practice of protocol may vary in different places; titles of officials and manner of addressing them may also vary. It is therefore important to be aware of the protocol practices in your community. The following are general guidelines of protocol.
DEFINITIONS OF PROTOCOL
“The term protocol comes from a Greek word meaning ‘the first glue.’ It can be understood as the glue which holds together official life in society. Whether on the local, state, national or international level, proper protocol is vital in assuring that relations between the officials of organizations and governments are conducted with minimum friction and maximum efficiency”1
Protocol is “the system of rules and acceptable behavior used at official ceremonies and occasions”2
“Protocol is commonly described as a set of international courtesy rules. These well-established and time-honored rules have made it easier for nations and people to live and work together. . . . Protocol rules are based on the principles of civility.”3
PROTOCOL IN RANK/HIERARCHICAL STANDING
“Part of protocol has always been the acknowledgment of the hierarchical standing of all present”4
The Bible also recognizes rank or standing amongst persons. It teaches its adherents to respect state and community authorities, and organizational and institutional leaders. Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:17.
PROTOCOL AND NATIONAL / COMMUNITY OFFICIALS
From time to time the church (at different the levels) invites national and community officials to functions/occasions; or the officials of their own accord may attend. “At times it is acceptable for government officials or civic leaders to address a congregation.”5. How do we address those officials?
“The spirit of formality among diplomatic representatives usually means not addressing others by their first names. One should rely on courtesy titles until invited to do otherwise.”6
How to Address Officials
Note when “Your” and “His/Her” may be used in addressing certain officials.
“Protocol promotes orderly procedure following the rules of etiquette. Personal friendships, likes, and dislikes must not be considered. The office is being honoured not the person.”8
In seating persons on a platform, place the first/ranking officer or platform member at the right of the principal speaker; the second ranking platform member at the left of the principal speaker; the third ranking platform member at the second right; the fourth ranking platform member at the second left; the fifth ranking platform member at the third right, etc. This order should be observed at all times for seating, introductions, etc. However, common sense sometimes dictates slight deviations.9
FLAG PROTOCOL ON PLATFORM
For a speaker on stage, either standing or sitting, the National flag is usually placed to the speaker's right (also known as stage right or house left); while other flags are placed to the speaker's left.10
RELATING TO PREACHERS/KEYNOTE SPEAKERS
Speakers should be given advance written information:
THE PRACTICE OF PROTOCOL IN THE CHURCH
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a highly structured organization with clearly outlined principles of conduct. The expression of those principles is contained in the Church Manual (2010 edition, p. 18).
Deference to be shown to Organizational Officers and Pastors
The Church Manual calls for deference to be shown to leaders of the Church organization and pastors (Church Manual 2010, p. 69).
Rank Expressed in Titles
The titles attributed to certain officers indicate rank and the way such officers should be recognized and addressed. At the constituent levels of the local Conference/Mission, Union, and General Conference the ranking officers are:
The final word on protocol has not been said. But protocol, the glue that holds official life in society together, is of vital importance to church life. It is vital for assuring that relations between leaders of the church and the general church body; and the relations between the church and national/community leaders are conducted with minimum friction and maximum efficiency. We follow protocol because “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace . . . in all the churches of the saints. [Therefore] let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40).
1. International Council of Voluntary Agencies/Centre for International Support
http://www.icvacis.org/pdf/Training%20in%20Protocol%20&%20Social%20Etiquette.pdf 2. Cambridge Dictionary (n.d.). Retrieved from
3. Dr. P.M. Forni on behalf of the International Association of Protocol Consultants and
Officers. In Wikipedia, the free online Encyclopaedia.
4. Dr. P.M. Forni on behalf of the International Association of Protocol Consultants and
Officers. In Wikipedia, the free online Encyclopaedia).
5. Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual. (2010, p. 116). Review and Herald Publishing
Association, Hagerstown, Maryland.
6. Protocol for the Modern Diplomat. (2013, July). Retrieved from
8. Wisconsin Hospital Association (n.d.). retrieved from
10. UCLA Flag Protocol for Special Events. Retrieved from
11. Wisconsin Hospital Association (n.d.). Retrieved from
James F. Daniel (PhD)
Field secretary &
Associate Director of Stewardship Ministries