.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 38 : Cases Without Process

Paragraph 4 :

38-4. When a member of a particular church has willfully neglected the church for a period of one year, or has made it known that he has no intention of fulfilling the church vows, then the Session, continuing to exercise pastoral discipline (BCO 27-1a and 27-4) in the spirit of Galatians 6:1, shall remind the member, if possible both in person and in writing, of the declarations and promises by which he entered into a solemn covenant with God and His Church (BCO 57-5, nos. 3-5), and warn him that, if he persists, his name shall be erased from the roll.
If after diligently pursuing such pastoral discipline, and after further inquiry and due delay, the Session is of the judgment that the member will not fulfill his membership obligations in this or any other branch of the Visible Church (cf. BCO 2-2), then the Session shall erase his name from the roll. This erasure is an act of pastoral discipline (BCO 27-1a) without process. The Session shall notify the person, if possible, whose name has been removed.
Notwithstanding the above, if a member thus warned makes a written request for process (i.e, BCO Chapters 31-33, 35-36), the Session shall grant such a request. Further, if the Session determines that any offense of such a member is of the nature that process is necessary, the Session may institute such process.


[Historical Summary : BCO 38-4 is a new paragraph added by amendment in 1997 [M25GA, 25-17, Item 6, p. 122], with dissatisfaction over the conclusion of a 1993 judicial case being the motivation behind the suggested change. See below for the text of the proposed amendment and following, the overture as presented by Potomac Presbytery. When the presbyteries reported their votes at the 25th General Assembly, 45 of 50 presbyteries had voted in favor of the amendment.]

Background and Comparison :
No comparable text in the following editions:
PCA 1973

Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, Proposed BCO
PCUS 1933
PCUS 1925

PCUS 1879
PCUS 1869 draft
PCUS 1867 draft
[no comparable text]

DOCUMENTATION:
1996 - M24GA, 24-58, Committee of Commissioners on Bills and Overtures, III, 15 and 16, pp. 296-297
15. That Overture 27, parts 1 and 2, from Potomac Presbytery be answered in the affirmative as amended.
1. Vacate BCO 46-5
2. Add a new BCO 38-4 as follows:
"
When a member of a particular church has willfully neglected the church for a period of one year, or has made it known that he has no intention of fulfilling the church vows, then the Session, continuing to exercise pastoral discipline (BCO 27-1a and 27-4) in the spirit of Galatians 6:1, shall remind the member, if possible both in person and in writing, of the declarations and promises by which he entered into a solemn covenant with God and His Church (BCO 57-5, nos. 3-5), and warn him that, if he persists, his name shall be erased from the roll.
If after diligently pursuing such pastoral discipline, and after further inquiry and due delay, the session is of the judgment that the member will not fulfill his membership obligations in this or any other branch of the visible church (cf. BCO 2-2), then the session shall erase his name from the roll. This erasure is an act of pastoral discipline (BCO 27-1a) without process. The session shall notify the person, if possible, whose name has been removed.
Notwithstanding the above, if a member thus warned makes a written request for process (i.e, BCO Chapters 31-33, 35-36), the session shall grant such a request. Further, if the session determines that any offense of such a member is of the nature that process is necessary, the session may institute such process."
Adopted as amended and sent down to presbyteries for advice and consent.

OVERTURE 27 from Potomac Presbytery : "Delete BCO 46-5 and Amend BCO 38 and 46-2"
Whereas, controversy and confusion continue to unsettle the courts of our Church concerning the meaning of BCO 46-5 and the nature and duties of church membership; and
Whereas, the actions of the 22nd General Assembly in the Case 93-3, Chen vs. Ascension Presbytery, have provoked for many elders a crisis in conscience with respect to their ordination vows; and
Whereas, Potomac Presbytery has diligently worked to find a consensus of brothers on this issue that will preserve both the peace and purity of the Church.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Potomac Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America overtures the 24th General Assembly meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, June 18-21, 1996, to amend the Book of Church Order 46-5, 46-2 and Chapter 38 as follows:
1. Strike current BCO 46-5 and renumber accordingly.
2. Amend "Chapter 38. Cases Without Process" by adding a new section 38-2 as follows and renumber.
38-2 When a member of a particular church has willfully neglected the church for a period of one year, or has made it known that he has no intention of fulfilling membership vows, then the Session shall continue to exercise pastoral discipline (BCO 27-1a and 27-4) in the spirit of Galatians 6:1 (cf. BCO 32-1), which shall include reminding that member, in person and in writing (if possible), of the declarations and promises by which he entered a solemn covenant with God and His Church (BCO 57-5, nos. 3-5), and warning him of the danger that, if he persists, his name shall be removed from the roll, thereby removing him from membership in good standing in any branch of the visible Church.
If, after diligently pursuing such pastoral discipline, and after further inquiry and due delay, the Session is of the judgment that the offending member will not fulfill his membership obligations in this, or any other branch of the visible Church (cf. BCO 2-2), then the Session shall remove his name from the roll, thereby removing him from membership in good standing in any branch of the visible Church. When so acting the Session shall make a full record of the matter and shall (if possible) notify the offender of its action.
Notwithstanding the above, if a member thus warned makes written request for process (i.e, BCO 31-33, 35-36), the Session shall grant such a request. Further, if the Session determines that the offense of the member is of such a nature that process (i.e., BCO 31-33, 35-36) is highly important and necessary, the Session may institute such process.
3. Add to BCO 46-2, third paragraph, after the word "removed by the Session," the cross-reference: (see BCO 38-2), so that the section reads:
46-2
If a member, after having thus been advised, shall neglect for one (1) year to have his membership transferred, his name shall be removed by the Session (see BCO 38-2) unless special permission is granted by the Session...
Adopted at the 25th Stated Meeting of the Potomac Presbytery on February 10, 1996. Attested by: /s/ Richard R. Larson, Stated Clerk.

16. That Overtures 6A, 7, 13, 14, 16, 19, 21, 25, 29, 35 and Communications 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 be answered by reference to Recommendation 15 on Overture 27.

COMMENTARY :

F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898) :
[no comparable text for discussion]



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