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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 13 : The Presbytery

Paragraph 4 : On Establishing a Quorum

13-4. Any three ministers belonging to the Presbytery, together with at least three ruling elders, being met at the time and place appointed, shall be a quorum competent to proceed to business.
However, any Presbytery, by a majority vote of those present at a stated meeting, may fix its own quorum provided it is not smaller than the quorum stated in this paragraph.

[Historical Summary : The current PCA text dates to the text adopted by the PCA in 1973, in which there is a clear effort to improve upon the involvement of ruling elders by increasing the number required for quorum, from one to three.]

Background and Comparison :
PCA 1973, 14-4, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 134
Any three Ministers belonging to the Presbytery, together with three Ruling Elders, being met at the time and place appointed, shall be a quorum competent to proceed to business. However, any Presbytery, by a majority vote of those present at a stated meeting, may fix its own quorum, provided it is not smaller than the quorum stated in this paragraph.

Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 14-4, Proposed text, p. 14
Any three Ministers belonging to the Presbytery, together with at least one Ruling Elder, being met at the time and place appointed, shall be a quorum competent to proceed to business.
However, any Presbytery, by a majority vote of those present at a stated meeting, may fix its own quorum, provided it is not smaller than the quorum stated in this paragraph.

PCUS 1933, XV, §73
PCUS 1925, XV, §73
Any three Ministers belonging to the Presbytery, together with at least one Ruling Elder, being met at the time and place appointed, shall be a quorum competent to proceed to business. However, any Presbytery, by a majority vote of those present at a stated meeting, may fix its own quorum, provided it is not smaller than the quorum stated in this paragraph.

PCUS 1879, V-4-3

Any three Ministers belonging to the Presbytery, together with at least one Ruling Elder, being met at the time and place appointed, shall be a quorum competent to proceed to business.

PCUS 1869 draft, V-4-4
Any three Ministers belonging to the Presbytery, together with at least one Ruling Elder, being met at the time and place appointed, shall be a quorum competent to proceed to business.

PCUS 1867 draft, V-4-4
Any three ministers belonging to the presbytery and engaged in a lawful ministerial calling, together with at least one elder, being met at the time and place appointed, shall be a quorum competent to proceed to business.

PCUSA 1821, X-7
Any three ministers, and as many elders as may be present belonging to the presbytery, being met at the time and place appointed, shall be a quorum competent to proceed to business.

PCUSA 1789, IX-4
Any three ministers, and as many elders as may be present belonging to the presbytery, being met, at the time and place appointed, shall be a judicatory, competent to the dispatch of business; notwithstanding the absence of the other members.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, pp. 92-93), on : V-4-3 :
74.--III. Any three Ministers belonging to the Presbytery, together with at least one Ruling Elder, being met at the time and place appointed, shall be a quorum competent to proceed to business.
If less than a quorum, they can wait the coming of others, until the required quorum is present, the time of meeting being construed to mean from the point of time named until a quorum is present ; and so, if none are present at the point of time, but afterwards a quorum arrives, it may proceed to business. But if less than a quorum are present at the point of time, and have left, supposing there would be no quorum, then the meeting fails, and no number coming later would be a quorum. Otherwise there would be no determinable point at which the meeting fails.
As in the case of the Session (paragraph 63), so here, it is required that both sorts of Presbyters be present, but the number of each is a matter of practicability ; for while, in the case of the Session, one Minister and two Ruling Elders are required, here three Ministers and one Ruling Elder. And the requirement that both should be present is not grounded on a denial that a court of Presbyters of either class, were there none of the other available, would be a competent court, but on the affirmation that neither class can lawfully assume to themselves authority to the exclusion of the other class.
It is calculated that ordinarily the numbers here named will be present, even when the meeting is held at an inconvenient time and place, and that so small a number may be trusted to act for the time rather than to delay pressing business.



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