PCA Historical Center

Archives & Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church

Procedural Checklist for
PCA Book of Church Order Rules of Discipline

 

PROCEDURAL CHECKLIST FOR PCA BCO RULES OF DISCIPLINE

by T. David Gordon

“The following checklist is, to the best of our knowledge, complete and accurate as of December, 2002.  Since the Book of Church Order is subject to revision at each meeting of the General Assembly, the checklist may not be accurate beyond the next meeting of the Assembly.  Updated checklists are available, upon request, from the Stated Clerk’s Office in Atlanta.”

[To view this checklist in pdf format, click here]

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Prior to First Meeting of Court 080-2
First Meeting of Court 080-3
Second Meeting of Court 080-3
The Trial 080-4
If Accused is a Minister 080-5
Infliction of Church Censures 080-6
Removal of Church Censures 080-7
General Review and Control 080-8
References 080-8
Appeals 080-9
Complaints 080-10
Dissents, Protests, and Objections 080-12
Jurisdiction 080-12
Presbytery Judicial Commissions Acting as Appellate Courts 080-13

 

 

Procedural Checklist for PCA BCO Rules of Discipline

(This information to be used in connection with the SJC Manual)

Prior to First Meeting of Court

Line Nbr

Date or N/A

Initials

Item

BCO #

1.  

. .

Process entered before Session of church to which alleged offender belongs (unless offender is a minister, or process is an appeal)

33-1

2.  

. .

Injured party has tried means of reconciliation

31-5

3.  

. .

Instruction has been given to offender

31-5,7

4.  

. .

Consider character of person bringing accusations

31-8

5.  

. .

Give warning to voluntary prosecutor regarding slander

31-9

6.  

. .

Suspend official functions of church court members while under process
(at discretion of court)

31-10

7.  

. .

In case of scandal, process shall commence within one year after offense committed

32-20

. . . . .

Cases without process:

.

8.      

. .

If any person comes forward and makes his offense known to the court, a full statement of the facts shall be recorded and judgment rendered without process.

38-1

9.      

. .

If a minister believes God has not called him to the ministry, see BCO 38-2 and 46-8

38-2; 46-8

10.      

. .
  1. If a member or officer joins another evangelical church, see BCO 38-3a
  2. If a member or officer joins another body judged as failing to maintain the Word and Sacraments, see BCO  38-3b.
  3. If a member or officer willfully neglects the church for a period of one year, or makes known no intention of fulfilling church vows, see BCO
    38-4.

38-3a

38-3b

38-4


 

First Meeting of Court

Line Nbr

Date or N/A

Initials

Item

BCO #

1.

. .

Gal 6:1 reiterated

32-1

2.

. .

Charge made out

32-2

3.

. .

Charge reduced to writing

32-3

4.

. .

Prosecutor appointed by court

31-2; 32-3.1

5.

. .

Indictment prepared

31-2,4; 32-3.2

6.

. .

Times, places, circumstances particularly stated

32-5

7.

. .

All parties and witnesses cited to appear and be heard

32-3.3

8.

. .

Attention called to Rules of Discipline (BCO 27-46)

32-3

9.

. .

At least 10 days elapse between citation and next meeting

32-3.3; 32-7

10.

. .

Citation issued and signed by moderator or clerk by order and in name of the court.

32-4

 

Second Meeting of Court

1.

. .

Charges read to the accused

32-3

2.

. .

Counsel assigned to accused if necessarily absent

32-3

3.

. .

Accused responds with "guilty" or "not guilty"

32-3

4.

. .

If "guilty" then court may deal with discretion

32-3

5.

. .

If "not guilty" then trial shall proceed

32-3

6.

. .

If accused refuses to obey citation, cite a second time

32-6a

7.

. .

Refusal to plead or cooperate will be dealt with for contumacy

32-6b

8.

. .

When accused found contumacious

33-2

9.

. .

Accused immediately suspended from the sacraments for contumacy (and if officer from office)

33-2

10.

. .

Censure made public if Session deems expedient

33-2

11.

. .

If charge is of gross crime or heresy, court may proceed to inflict highest censure

33-3

12.

. .

If impracticable immediately to commence process, Session may fence the Table from the accused

 until examination.

33-4

13.

. .

If offense took place at a distance

.

14.

. .

Court may appoint a commission of its body or request coordinate court where facts occurred to take testimony

32-8

15.

. .

If offense not likely to become known to court of jurisdiction, Court of location sends notice to court of jurisdiction which shall proceed against accused; or whole case may be remitted to court of location.

32-9

 

The Trial

Line Nbr

Date or N/A

Initials

Item

BCO #

. . .

Prior to trial:

.

1.

. .

Court ascertains that citations duly served

32-10

2.

. .

Judicial Committee appointed if expedient

32-11

3.        

. .

Challenge for cause by either party on the right of any member to sit in trial.  Other members of court decide the question

32-16

4.

. .

Disqualification of any member considered

32-17

. . .

In trial:

.

5.

. .

1.  Moderator charges the court

32-12, -15.1

6.

. .

2.  Indictment read, Answer of accused heard

32-15.2

7.

. .

3.  Witnesses examined in presence of the accused

32-13

. . .

Witnesses for Prosecutor

32-15.3

8.

. .

Oath of 35-6 administered by Moderator

35-6

9.

. .

Witnesses examined by Prosecutor party

35-5

10.

. .

Witnesses cross-examined by Accused party

35-5

11.

. .

Additional interrogatories by parties or court members

35-5

12.        

. .

More than one witness necessary to establish charge, unless corroborative evidence is produced in addition to one witness.

35-3

. . .

Witnesses for Accused

32-15.3

13.

. .

Oath of 35-6 administered by Moderator

35-6

14.

. .

Witnesses examined by Accused party

35-5

15.

. .

Witnesses cross-examined by Prosecutor party

35-5

16.

. .

Additional interrogatories by parties or court members

35-5

. . .

Pertaining to All Witnesses

.

17.        

. .

Witnesses are of proper age and intelligence, and believe in the existence of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments.

35-1

18.        

. .

Either party has the right to challenge a witness whom he believes to be incompetent; to be decided by court.

35-1

19.        

. .

Husband or wife not compelled to bear testimony against one another

35-2

20.        

. .

No witness afterwards to be examined, unless a member of the court, shall be present during the examination of another witness on the same case, if either party object.

35-4

21.        

. .

Permission granted by Moderator for all questions before being put or answered, subject to appeal to the court.

35-5

22.     . .

All testimony shall be recorded (transcription, audiotape, videotape, or some other electronic means) and witnesses informed of such prior to testifying.  (See also BCO 32-18)

35-7
23.  . .

Testimony may be taken by commission or coordinate court if necessary due to distance, per BCO 35-10.

35-10
24. . .

Professional counsel prohibited to appear

32-19
25. . .

BCO 35-7, as amended, now requires recording all testimony.

 
26. . . 4.  Parties heard 32-15.4
27. . .

Prosecutor first

 
28. . .

Accused next (not compelled to testify, 35-1)

 
29. . .

Prosecutor closes

 
30. . . 5.  Roll is called—members may express opinion in the case 32-15.5
31. . . 6.  Vote is taken 32-15.6
32. . .

Verdict announced

 
33. . .

Judgment entered on records

 
34. . .

Minutes of trial kept by clerk

32-18;
35-7
35. . . Record of the Case assembled by clerk 32-18

 

 

If Accused is a Minister

1.

. .

Scandalous charges not received on slight grounds.

34-2

2.

. .

Minister warned in private if guilty of private offense

34-3

3.

. .

When accused found to be contumacious:

32-6

4.

. .

Immediately suspended from sacraments and office

34-4a

5.

. .

Record made of fact and of charges

34-4a

6.

. .

Censure made public

34-4a

7.

. .

If accused persists in contumacy, he shall be deposed and excommunicated

34-4b

8.

. .

Errors carefully considered for heresy and schism

34-5

9.

. .

Measures taken to remove scandal if appropriate

34-6

10.

. .

Definite suspension or deposition imposed if minister makes confession pending trial

34-7

11.

. .

Pastoral relation dissolved in case of deposition

34-9

12.

. .

Assessment of dissolution in case of suspension from office

34-9

13.

. .

For failure to discharge official functions, see 34-10

34-10


 

Infliction of Church Censures

Line Nbr

Date or N/A

Initials

Item

BCO #

1.

. .

Court proceeds with tenderness (Gal 6:1)

36-1

2.

. .

Censure of Admonition

36-3

3.

. . . .

Administered in private if offense is private

.

4.

. .

Administered in presence of court if offense is public

.

5.

. .

Announced in public if court deems expedient

.

6.

. .

Definite Suspension from Office  [see also BCO 33-2; 34-4(a)]

36-4

7.

. .

Administered in presence of court alone or in open session of court, as court deems best

.

8.

. .

Public announcement made at court's discretion

.

9.

. .

Indefinite Suspension from Office or Sacraments.
[see also BCO 33-2; 34-4 (a); 30-1; 30-3]

36-5

10.

. .

Administered in presence of court alone or in open session of court, as court deems best

.

11.

. .

Public announcement made at court's discretion

.

12.

. .

Administered with added solemnity

. .

13.

. .

Administered under blessing of God for repentance

.

14.

. .

Address offending brother per BCO 36-5

.

15.

. .

Excommunication [see also BCO 33-3; 34-4(b)]

36-6

16.

. .

If accused persists in contumacy, shall be excommunicated

33-3

17.

. .

Administered in presence of court alone or in open session of court, as court deems best

.

18.

. .

Public announcement made at court's discretion

.

19.

. .

Moderator reiterates steps of discipline taken

.

20.

. .

Explain authority of Church to excommunicate from Matt 18:15-18, and 1Cor 5:1-5

.

21.

. .

Administer censure in words of BCO 36-6

.

22.

. .

Deposition

36-7

23.

. .

Administered by Moderator in words of BCO 36-7

.

24.

. .

If deposed without excommunication, Presbytery assigns him to membership in some particular church, subject to the approval of the Session of that church

46-8

25.

. .

If includes suspension or excommunication, add appropriate words from BCO 36-7

36-7


 

Removal of Church Censures

Line Nbr

Date or
N/A

Initials

Item

BCO #

1.

. .

Definite Suspension from Office

37-1

2.

. .

Offender repents of contumacy

33-2

3.

. .

Gives satisfaction in relation to his charges

34-4a

4.

. .

Declare words of BCO 37-1

 

5.

. .

Indefinite Suspension from Sacraments (see also BCO 30)

37-2,3

6.

. .

Rulers of church frequently converse with him and pray for God to grant repentance

.

7.

. .

Offender repents of contumacy

33-2

8.

. .

Gives satisfaction in relation to his charges

34-4a

9.

. .

Court satisfied with reality of repentance

37-3

10.

. .

Offender admitted to profess repentance

.

11.

. .

Restoration declared by words in BCO 37-3

.

12.

. .

Excommunication

37-4

13.

. .

Session obtained sufficient evidence of sincere repentance

.

14.

. .

Questions of BCO 37-4 posed to excommunicated person, with affirmative response given

.

15.

. .

Exhortation of encouragement and comfort given

.

16.

. .

Sentence of restoration pronounced (from BCO 37-4)

.

17.

. .

Deposition from Office

37-5,6

18.

. .

Public confession made

.

19.

. .

Restoration announced by words of BCO 37-5

.

20.

. .

Absolved ruling elder or deacon re-elected by people before resumption of office

37-6

21.

. .

Restoration of Minister  [see also BCO 34-4a]

.

22.

. .

Minister exhibits for a considerable time such an eminently exemplary, humble and edifying life and testimony as shall heal the wound made by his scandal.

34-8

23.

. .

General sentiment of the church is strongly in minister's favor and demands his restoration

34-8

24.

. .

Presbytery proceeds with great caution

37-8

25.

. .

Admitted to Sacraments

37-8

26.

. .

Granted privilege to preach on probation for a time

37-8

27.

. .

See BCO 37-9 for jurisdiction in removal of censures

37-9

28.

. .

Restoration pronounced

37-8,9


 

General Review and Control

Line Nbr

Date or N/A

Initials

Item

BCO #

1.

. .

Areas Reviewed:

40-2

2.

. .

Proceedings correctly recorded

40-2.1

3.

. .

Proceedings regular and in accordance with Constitution

40-2.2

4.

. .

Proceedings wise, equitable, suited to promote welfare of Church

40-2.3

5.

. .

Lawful injunctions of higher court obeyed

40-2.4

6.

. .

Higher court records approval or disapproval, and corrections of lower court records

40-3

7.

. .

Requirement communicated for review and correction of serious irregularities

40-3

8.

. .

If appeal or complaint is in process, judicial case proceedings not dealt with under review and control

40-3

9.

. .

Gross negligence of lower court examined, deliberated and judged by higher court.

40-4

10.

. .

In case of delinquency or unconstitutional proceedings:

40-5
(cf. BCO)

11.

. . .

Offending court cited to appear

.

12.

. .

Offending court show what it has done or failed to do

.

13.

. .

Court issuing citation may:

.

14.

. .

Reverse or redress lower court's proceedings

.

15.

. .

Censure delinquent court

. .

16.

. .

Remit whole matter with injunction to delinquent court

.

17.

. .

Stay all further proceedings in the case

.

18.

. .

Process against lower court conducted according to rules for process against individuals

40-6

 

References

1.

. .

Reference deemed necessary by lower court

41-5

2.

. .

All testimony and other documents duly prepared

41-6

3.

. .

Reference presented to higher court, accompanied by necessary records

41-4


 

Complaints

1.

. .

Written notice of complaint, with supporting reasons, filed with clerk of court within 30 days following meeting of the court

43-2

2.

. .

Court consider complaint at next meeting

.

3.

. .

No attempt made to circularize the court

.

4.

. .

Complainant may take complaint to next higher court if:

43-3

5.

. .

Court alleged to be delinquent denies complaint

.

6.

. .

Court fails to consider complaint by next stated meeting

.

7.

. .

Complainant files written notice of complaint together with supporting reasons, with both the clerk of the lower court and the clerk of the higher court within 30 days following the meeting of the lower court.

.

8.

. .

Action against which the complaint made not suspended, unless 1/3 of the members vote for suspension, until final decision in the higher court.

43-4

9.

. .

Representative(s) appointed to defend action of lower court

43-5

10. . . Clerk of lower court files following documents with clerk of higher court, not more than 30 days after receiving notice of complaint 43-6
11. . .

Copy of all proceedings in connection with the complaint

.
12. . .

Notice of complaint and supporting reasons

.
13. . .

Response of the lower court, if any

.
14. . .

Any papers bearing on the complaint. 

.
15. . . Rebuke from higher court in case of failure to thus file 43-6
16. . . Complainant waives right to appear with permission of court 43-7
17. . . Complainant has abandoned complaint if fails to appear without waiving right or giving satisfactory explanation 43-7
18. . . Higher court hears complaint if considers complaint in order 43-8
19. . .

Higher court may appoint commission to hear complaint

43-8; 15-2,3
20. . . Court notifies complainant and respondent in writing of the date set for the hearing 43-8
. . .. At the Hearing: 43-9
21. . .

All papers bearing on complaint are read

.
22. . .

Complainant given opportunity to present argument

.
23. . .

Respondent given opportunity to present argument

.
24. . .

Complainant given right of opening and closing the argument

.
25. . .

Court or commission enters closed session

.
26. . .

Discusses and considers merits of the complaint.

.
27. . .

Vote taken as to what disposition should be made of the complaint

.
28. . .

Complainant notified of the court's decision

.
29. . .

Respondent notified of the court's decision

.
30. . . Court may annul whole or any part of lower court's action 43-10
31. . . Court may send matter back to lower court for new hearing 43-10

 

Dissents, Protests, and Objections

Line Nbr

Date or N/A

Initials

Item

BCO #

1.

. .

(For definitions of D, P, & O, see BCO 45-2,3,4)

45-2,3,4

2.

. .

D/P filed by one who had right to vote in the case

45-1

3.

. .

O filed by one who did not have right to vote

45-1, 4

4.

. .

D/P/O filed with clerk of lower court within 30 days following meeting of lower court, or with clerk of the General Assembly before its adjournment.

45-1

5.

. .

D/P/O filed with reasons (generally,  but not necessary)

45-2,3,4

6.

. .

D/P/O in temperate language, respectful to court

45-5

7.

. .

D/P/O recorded by court

45-5

8.

. .

Court records answer to D/P/O if deemed necessary

45-5

 

Jurisdiction

1.

. . .

. When church member removes his residence beyond bounds:

46-1

2.

. . .

Certificate of dismission obtained from old Session

.

3.

. . .

Certificate of dismission presented to new church

.

4.

. .

If Certificate of dismission not possible:

.

5.

. .

Received by the Session upon other testimonials

.

6.

. .

Old church duly notified

.

7.

. .

Elders of old church continue oversight until transfer

46-2

8.

. .

Elders of old church inform on duty to transfer

.

9.

. .

Old church notify session of church in new bounds

.

10.

. .

If transfer neglected for 1 year, name removed from roll, unless special permission granted

46-2, 38-4

11.

. .

Regular connection with new church formed

46-3

12.

. .

Associate Members:

46-4

13.

. .

All rights and privileges afforded

.

14.

. .

Barred from voting in congregational or corporate mtgs.

.

15.

. .

Barred from holding office

.

16.

. .

If a member or officer joins another evangelical church, see BCO 38-3a

38-3a

17.

. .

If a member or officer joins another body judged as failing to maintain the Word and Sacraments, see BCO 38-3b

38-3b

18.

. .

Member who has willfully neglected church for 1 year, or has made known he/she has no intention of fulfilling vows:

38-4

19. . .

Session follows Scriptural procedures (Matt 18, Gal. 6:1)

.
20. . .

Session reminds member of solemn covenant

.
21. . .

Session erases name from church roll

.
22. . .

Session notifies person whose name was erased

.
23. . . Minister/Licentiate/Candidate dismissed from Presbytery: 46-6
24. . .

Name of Presbytery to which dismissed, in certificate

.
25. . .

Remains under jurisdiction until received by other Presbytery

.
26. . .

Certificate of Dismission valid testimony of good standing for only 1 year

46-7
27. . . Minister divested of his office without censure, or deposed  without excommunication: 46-8
28. . .

Presbytery assigns him membership in some particular church, subject to approval of Session of that church

.

 

 

Presbytery Judicial Commissions Acting as Appellate Courts

1.

. .

See APPENDIX H of BCO

15