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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 9 : The Deacon

Paragraph 4 : Of the Board of Deacons

9-4. The deacons of a particular church shall be organized as a Board, of which the pastor shall be an advisory member. The Board shall elect a chairman and a secretary from their number and a treasurer to whom shall be entrusted the funds for the current expenses of the church. It shall meet separately at least once a quarter, and whenever requested by the Session. The Board of each church shall determine the number necessary for a quorum.
The Board shall keep a record of its proceedings, and of all funds and their distribution, and shall submit its minutes to the Session regularly, and at other times upon request of the Session.
It is desirable that the Session and the Board of Deacons meet in joint session once a quarter to confer on matters of common interest.

HISTORICAL SUMMARY:
The core of the current PCA text dates to changes made in chapter 9 of the PCUS BCO in 1922 (cf. PCUS Minutes of General Assembly, 1922, p. 73). The Proposed PCA BCO (1973) substituted "regularly" in the third sentence, deleting the more specific requirement of "every six months". The current text dates to [1980?], with two noted changes over against PCA 1973.

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
PCA 1973, 10-4, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 132
and
Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 10-4, Proposed text, p. 10
The Deacons of a particular church shall be organized as a Board, of which the Pastor shall be an advisory member. The Board shall elect a Chairman, a Secretary, and a Treasurer, to whom shall be entrusted the funds for the current expense of the church. It shall meet at least once a quarter, and whenever requested by the Session. The Board of each church shall determine the number necessary for a quorum.
The Board shall keep a record of its proceedings, and of all funds and their distribution, and shall submit its minutes to the Session regularly, and at other times upon request of the Session.
It is desirable that the Session and the Board of Deacons meet in joint session once a quarter to confer on matters of common interest.

PCUS 1933, XI, § 47
and
PCUS 1922, XI, § 47
The Deacons of a particular church shall be organized as a Board, of which the Pastor shall be an advisory member. The Board shall elect a Chairman, a Secretary, and a Treasurer, to whom shall be entrusted the funds for the current expense of the church. It shall meet at least once a quarter, and whenever requested by the Session. The Board of each church shall determine the number necessary for a quorum.
The Board shall keep a record of its proceedings, and of all funds and their distribution, and shall submit its minutes to the Session once every six months, and at other times upon request of the Session.
It is desirable that the Session and the Board of Deacons meet in joint session once a quarter to confer on matters of common interest.

PCUS 1879, IV-4-4

A complete account of collections and distributions, and a full record of proceedings shall be kept by the Deacons, and submitted to the Session for examination and approval at least once a year.

PCUS 1869 draft, IV-4-4
The Pastor of the Congregation is ex officio Moderator of the Board of Deacons. A complete account of all collections and distributions, and a full record of all proceedings should be kept, and submitted to the Session for examination and approval at least once a year.

PCUS 1867 draft, IV-4-6
In order to the systematic and efficient discharge of their duties, the deacons ought to meet as often as necessary for the ordering of their affairs, and for mutual consultation and advice. The pastor of the congregation is ex officio moderator of the board of deacons, but it is requisite that a clerk and treasurer be appointed by the board. A complete account of all collections and distributions, and a full record of all proceedings, must be kept and submitted to the session for examination at least once a year, at a meeting previous to the stated meeting of the presbytery next preceding the annual meeting of the general assembly.

OTHER COMPARISONS:
ARP 2007, VII-B.2
The deacons of a particular congregation shall be organized as a board, the diaconate, of which the pastor and associate pastor shall be advisory members, and of which the congregational treasurer shall be an advisory member when not otherwise a member thereof. The diaconate shall elect a chairman and a secretary from among its own number. The secretary shall keep a record of the diaconate's proceedings, and shall submit its minutes to the session at least once a year and at other times upon request of the session. The congregational treasurer, who is entrusted with the regular offerings of the congregation, shall be responsible to the diaconate. A monthly financial report of the congregational treasurer shall be included in the minutes of the diaconate.

OPC 2007. XI-3 and 4
3.
In order to facilitate the performance of the duties of their office the deacons of each particular church shall be constituted a board of deacons. The board shall choose its own officers from its membership.
4.
The board shall oversee the ministry of mercy in the church and shall collect and disburse funds for the relief of the needy. Other forms of service for the church may also be committed to the deacons.

COMMENTARY:
Edward Mack, The Office of the Deacon. [Richmond, VA: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, revised, 1929, pp. 32-34.]
Chapter VI. The Organization of the Office.
This new paragraph provides for uniformity throughout the Church in organization of the Deacons in their various churches, and for orderliness in conducting the affairs of the office. Three items are considered : organization, keeping of records, and joint conferences with the Session.
(1) Organization. A brief plan is offered for forming the Deacons of a local church into a Board.
The officers to be elected are those of any ordinary and well regulated board : Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer or Treasurers. Frequently in the practice of churches with large membership one Treasurer receives and disburses the gifts of the people for local church support, another Treasurer receives and disburses the gifts for benevolences.
The Board is required to meet at least once a quarter. Ordinarily its meetings are held monthly. It must also meet whenever required by the Session.
As conditions vary so widely in different churches, the number necessary to constitute a quorum is left to the decision of the Board of each church.
A happy addition in the new plan of organization is the inclusion of the Pastor of the church as an advisory member. It is to him that the Board must turn, as its chief source of information and inspiration for its activities.
(2) The Records. It is required that record shall be made and kept of all preceedings and of the handling of all funds. Such records must be submitted to the Session every six months, or at any time upon its request. The increasing activities and enlarging liberalities of the Church make imperative that careful and orderly account of all funds be kept and given. Consecrated business men, as in their worldly business so also in the business of the Lord, must have zeal for cleanness and exactness of record. The indispensable man at this point is the faithful and accurate treasurer. Here on earth his praise is scant and his tribulations many; but great will be his reward in Heaven.
(3) Joint Meetings. No well-organized and clear-visioned church attempts to conduct its affairs without proper correllation of all its agencies. The stated, or at least the occasional, joint meeting of the Session and Board of Deacons may now be taken for granted as necessary for mutual benefit in spiritual matters, and for the wise ordering of their separate functions, as well as the duties common to both. It is suggested that such joint meetings be held quarterly. They may be held merely for informal conference; or by unofficial presence of the Elders at a meeting of the Board of Deacons; or with the unofficial presence of the Deacons at a meeting of the Session; proper record being kept by the body in regular session. Best of all, a regular, official quarterly joint meeting may be regarded as a part of the duties of both bodies.

F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, p. 61), on IV-4-4 :
49.--IV. A complete account of collections and distributions, and a full record of proceedings shall be kept by the Deacons, and submitted to the Session for examination and approval at least once a year.
Three things are required : that the Deacons keep a complete account ; that they keep a full record of proceedings ; (and these things they cannot do unless they act together as a body) ; and that both this account and this record be submitted to the Session at least as often as once a year, not only for formal approval or disapproval, but also for a real examination, to see whether the Deacons have faithfully done the work as required by their office and the directions of the Session. It is a condition of confusion and disintegration when this paragraph is ignored.

J. Aspinwall Hodge, What Is Presbyterian Law? (1882), p. 61.
What is the Board of Deacons ?
The Deacons cannot act on individual responsibility, but must meet together and organize as a Board of Deacons. They should appoint a Moderator, a Clerk and a Treasurer, attend to their business in an orderly way, determine methods for searching out the poor, visiting the sick, obtaining work and relieving the distressed. They should consider the cases brought before them, and determine how to answer their applications. They should keep full records and accounts of money received and distributed, and at certain times present them to Session for approval. If the management of the temporal affairs is also committed to them, they should keep a separate account of property and moneys of the congregation.
Often the members of Session are expected to be present at the Deacons’ meeting, to advise, but not to vote. [1] The Southern Presbyterian Church declares that one of the duties of the Session is “to examine the records of the proceedings of the Deacons.”[2]
[1] See above. Form of Government, ch. ix., sect. viii.; cli. x., sect. ix.; ch. xi., sect. vi.; chs. xix. and xx.
[2] Book of Church Order, ch. v., sect, iii., sub-sect, v.

CONSTITUTIONAL INQUIRY:

1987, 15-83, III, Item 9, p. 170
That the advice of the Permanent Committee regarding Constitutional Inquiry #3 be ratified.
Constitutional Inquiry #3. From All Saints Reformed Presbyterian Church, Richmond, VA, regarding a church treasurer.
"Is it in conflict with BCO 9-4 for deacons to delegate the responsibilities of treasurer to a capable member of the congregation who is not a deacon?"
Answer: "No."



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