Crossword Genius

Wife leaving joiner for church officer (5)

Ross

I believe the answer is:

elder

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Here is my best explanation:

'church officer' is the definition.

(elder is a kind of church officer)

I cannot understand how the remainder of the clue works.

This clue was last seen in The Times

(Other definitions for elder that I've seen before include "Senior - church official", "Patriarch", "Older or two", "Ancestor", "Kind of tree or sage person", "Shrub - senior", "Senior member of a tribe", "Tree - wise counsellor", "Older person - one's senior" and "Senior type of tree?".)

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