The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

This project is designed to provide a convenient summary of the history of each of the paragraphs in the Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America. The primary point of this exercise is to show where we've come from and how we got here, to point out the value of the text we have inherited, and to perhaps help churchmen in their consideration of future changes in the Book of Church Order. For one, when it becomes evident that a particular reading has served the Church well for over 150 years, it should give us pause before we rush ahead to change that reading. The Book of Church Order is not inspired, but it is well-crafted and a great deal of thought has already gone into it. We must not ignore the wisdom of our fathers in the faith, much less the wisdom of their forefathers.

The comparisons provided in this Historical Development also serve in part to demonstrate the ecumenical relation of our several Presbyterian denominations. In many cases we share the exact same wording in our various Books of Order, from 1789 forward.

The following tables of content provide direct links to the respective paragraphs for each chapter in the BCO.



Form of Governent :—

Chapters Paragraphs
1. The Doctrine of Church Government - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7
2. The Visible Church Defined - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3
3. The Nature and Extent of Church Power - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6
4. The Particular Church - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5 [Deleted text : old §4old §5]
5. The Organization of a Particular Church - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8§9§10§11
6. Church Members - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4
7. Church Officers — General Classification - - - §1§2§3
8. The Elder - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8§9
9. The Deacon - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7
10. Church Courts in General - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6
11. Jurisdiction of Church Courts - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4
12. The Church Session - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8§9
13. The Presbytery - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
§1 - §2 - §3 - §4 - §5 - §6 - §7 - §8 - §9 - §10 - §11 - §12 - §13
14. The General Assembly - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8
15. Ecclesiastical Commissions - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6
16. Church Orders – The Doctrine of Vocation - §1§2§3
17. Doctrine of Ordination - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2 §3
18. Candidates for the Gospel Ministry - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8
19. Licensure of Candidates
for the Gospel Ministry & Internship - - - - - - -
§1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8§9§10§11§12§13§14§15§16
20. The Election of Pastors - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1 - §2 - §3 - §4 - §5 - §6 - §7 - §8 - §9 - §10 - §11 - §12 - §13
21. The Ordination and Installation of Ministers §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8§9§10§11
22. The Pastoral Relation - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4 §5§6
23. The Dissolution of the Pastoral Relation - - - §1§2§3
24. Election, Ordination & Installation
of Ruling Elders & Deacons - - - - - - - - - - - - -
§1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8§9§10
25. Congregational Meetings - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8§9§10§11§12
26. Amending the Constitution of the Church - - §1§2§3§4§5§6

Rules of Discipline :—

27. Discipline – Its Nature, Subjects, and Ends - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5
28. Discipline of Non-communing Members - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5
29. Offenses - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4
30. Church Censures - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5
31. The Parties in Cases of Process - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8§9§10§11
32. General Provisions Applicable to all Cases of Process §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8§9§10 §11
§12§13§14§15§16§17§18§19§20
33. Special Rules Pertaining to Process before Sessions - §1§2§3§4
34. Special Rules Pertaining to Process Against a Minister (Teaching Elder) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8§9§10
35. Evidence - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8§9§10§11§12§13§14
36. The Infliction of Censures - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7
37. The Removal of Censures - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8§9
38. Cases Without Process - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4
39. Modes in Which the Proceedings of Lower Courts Come Under Supervision of Higher Courts - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3
40. General Review and Control - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2 §3§4§5§6
41. References - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6
42. Appeals - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8§9§10§11§12
43. Complaints - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8§9§10
44. [vacated] [vacated]
45. Dissents, Protests and Objections - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3 §4§5
46. Jurisdiction - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8

Directory for Worship :—

47. The Principles and Elements of Public Worship - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8 §9
48. The Sanctification of the Lord's Day - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7
49. The Ordering of Public Worship - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4
50. The Public Reading of the Holy Scriptures - - - - §1§2§3§4
51. The Singing of Psalms and Hymns - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3 §4§5
52. Public Prayer - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5
53. The Preaching of the Word - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6 [Deleted paragraphs §4 & §6]
54. The Worship of God by Offerings - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3
55. Confessing the Faith - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1
56. The Administration of Baptism - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6
57. The Admission of Persons to Sealing Ordinances §1§2§3§4§5§6
58. The Administration of the Lord's Supper - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7§8
59. The Solemnization of Marriage - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6§7
60. The Visitation of the Sick - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1
61. The Burial of the Dead - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2
62. Days of Fasting and Thanksgiving - - - - - - - - - §1§2 §3§4§5§6§7
63. Christian Life in the Home - - - - - - - - - - - - - - §1§2§3§4§5§6