.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 4 : The Particular Church

Paragraph 5 :

4-5. Churches without teaching elders ought not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, but should be convened by the Session on the Lord's Day, and at other suitable times, for prayer, praise, the presenting and expounding of the Holy Scriptures, and exhortation, or the reading of a sermon of some approved minister. In like manner, Christians whose lot is cast in destitute regions ought to meet regularly for the worship of God.

[Historical Summary : The current PCA text, with its revision of the earlier wording, dates to _____ . PCA 1973 differs from the Proposed BCO, PCUS 1933 and PCUS 1925 solely by the absence of a comma after "Holy Scriptures". It can be assumed that this difference was merely a typographical error in the printing. The provision of instruction found in this paragraph dates to the early PCUS drafts and no comparable instruction is found in earlier PCUSA editions.]

Background and Comparison :
PCA 1973, 4-6, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 130
Churches destitute of the official ministration of the Word ought not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, but should be convened by the Session on the Lord's Day, and at other suitable times, for prayer, praise, the reading and expounding of the Holy Scriptures and exhortation, or the reading of a sermon of some approved minister. In like manner, Christians whose lot is cast in destitute regions ought to meet for the worship of God.

Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 4-6, Proposed text, p. 6
PCUS 1933, V-§25
PCUS 1933, V-§25
Churches destitute of the official ministration of the Word ought not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, but should be convened by the Session on the Lord's Day, and at other suitable times, for prayer, praise, the reading and expounding of the Holy Scriptures, and exhortation, or the reading of a sermon of some approved minister. In like manner, Christians whose lot is cast in destitute regions ought to meet for the worship of God.

PCUS 1879, II-4-6

Churches destitute of the official ministrations of the Word ought not therefore, to forsake the assembling of themselves together, but should be convened by the Session on the Lord's Day, and at other suitable times for prayer, praise, the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and exhortation, or the reading of a sermon of some approved minister. In like manner, Christians whose lot is cast in destitute regions ought to meet for the worship of God.


PCUS 1869 draft, II-4-6
Congregations, although destitute of the official ministrations of the Word, ought not, therefore, to forsake the assembling of themselves together, but should meet on the Lord’s day, and at other suitable times, for public worship, under the direction of the Session. In like manner, Christians whose lot is cast in destitute regions ought to meet for the worship of God.

PCUS 1867 draft, II-4-6
Every congregation destitute of the ministrations of the word, ought ordinarily to meet together on the Lord’s day for the purpose of prayer, singing praises, exhortation and reading the Holy Scriptures, together with the works of such approved divines as it may be able to procure. The whole should be under the direction of the session, which should appoint some one to preside, and should see that everything is conducted in an orderly and becoming manner. It is also recommended to Christians cast in destitute regions to form associations for the worship of God, after the above general directions.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
, (1898, pp. 35-36), on II-4-6 :
25.--VI. Churches destitute of the official ministrations of the Word ought not therefore, to forsake the assembling of themselves together, but should be convened by the Session on the Lord's Day, and at other suitable times for prayer, praise, the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and exhortation, or the reading of a sermon of some approved minister.
It being assumed that the Session exists even when there is no Pastor or when the Pastor is absent, this paragraph makes it clear that Ruling Elders as such are not official ministers of the Word. A comparison of the acts of worship in which a church should engage when having no minister might seem to show that the participation of a minister is required for expounding and preaching the Word, for administering the sacraments, for fasting and thanksgiving, for catechising, for making offerings, for exercising discipline and for blessing the people ; but as, manifestly, not all of these are meant to be inhibited in the absence of a minister, we must understand this paragraphas stating the minimum that should be done in the absence of a minister, and not the maximum. This minimum is, besides prayer, praise and the reading of the Scriptures, either exhortation or the reading of a sermon.
It is the Session that should convene the church.
A church should be convened not only on the Lord's day, but also at other suitable times.
In like manner, Christians whose lot is cast in destitute regions ought to meet for the worship of God.
This holds not only when there is no minister, but also when there is no other officer, and even when there is no formal organization. It must hold also when there are nominal officers that do not act.



©PCA Historical Center, 12330 Conway Road, St. Louis, MO, 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Chapter Index [links to Par. 1 of each chapter]:
FoG..
1
2
3.
4
5.
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
I. King & Head of Church
.§1.
§4
§5
RoD
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
II. Preliminary Principles
§1
§2
§3
§4
§5
§6
§7
§8
DfW
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
[FoG = Form of Government ; RoD = Rules of Discipline ; DfW = Directory for Worship]