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The Historical Development of the Book of Church Order

Chapter 13 : The Presbytery

Paragraph 12 : Of the Meetings of Presbytery

13-12. The Presbytery shall meet at least twice a year on its own adjournment. The Moderator shall call a special meeting at the request or with the concurrence of three teaching elders and three ruling elders from at least three different churches. Should the Moderator be for any reason unable to act, the Stated Clerk shall, under the same requirements, issue the call. If both Moderator and Stated Clerk are unable to act, any three teaching elders and three ruling elders of at least three different churches shall have power to call a meeting. However, any Presbytery may prescribe in its rules its own requirements for callng a special meeting, provided that those requirements are not less than those stated in this section. Notice of the special meeting shall be sent not less than ten days in advance to each teaching elder and to the Clerk of Session of every church. In the notice, the purpose of the meeting shall be stated, and no business other than that named in the notice is to be transacted. The Presbytery also shall convene when directed to do so by the General Assembly, for the transaction of designated business only.

DIGEST:

BACKGROUND & COMPARISON:
PCA 1973, 14-1, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly,

Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 14-9, Proposed text, p. 15-16
The Presbytery shall meet at least twice a year on its own adjournment. When any emergency shall require a meeting earlier than the time to which the Presbytery stands adjourned, the Moderator shall, at the request, or with the concurrence, of two Ministers and two Ruling Elders of different churches, call a special meeting. Should the
Moderator be for any reason unable to act, the Stated Clerk shall, under the same requirements, issue the call. If both Moderator and Stated Clerk are unable to act, any three Ministers and two Ruling Elders of different churches shall have power to call a meeting. Notice of the special meeting shall be sent not less than ten days in advance to each Minister and to the Session of every church without a Pastor. In the notice, the purpose of the meeting shall be stated, and no business other than that named in the notice is to be transacted.

PCUS 1933,

PCUS 1925, XV, 78
The Presbytery shall meet at least twice a year on its own adjournment. When any emergency shall require a meeting earlier than the time to which the Presbytery stands adjourned, the Moderator shall, at the request, or with the concurrence, of two Ministers and two Ruling Elders of different churches, call a special meeting. Should the Moderator be for any reason unable to act, the Stated Clerk shall, under the same requirements, issue the call. If both Moderator and Stated Clerk are unable to act, any three Ministers and two Ruling Elders of different churches shall have power to call a meeting. Notice of the special meeting shall be sent not less than ten days in advance to each Minister and to the Session of every church without a Pastor. In the notice the purpose of the meeting shall be stated, and no business other than that named in the notice is to be transacted.

PCUS 1905, V-4-8, §79
The Presbytery shall meet at least twice a year on its own adjournment, and when any emergency shall require a meeting sooner than the time to which it stands adjourned, the Moderator, or in case of his absence, death, or inability to act, the Stated Clerk shall, with the concurrence, or at the request of two ministers and two ruling elders of different churches, call a special meeting. For this purpose he shall give notice specifying the particular business of the intended meeting to every minister belonging to the Presbytery, and to the session of every vacant church in due time previous to the meeting, which shall be not less than ten days. Or in the case of the absence, death, or inability to act of the Moderator and Stated Clerk, any three ministers and two ruling elders of different churches shall call a special meeting. And nothing shall be transacted at such special meeting besides the particular business for which the court has thus been convened.

PCUS 1879, V-4-8
The Presbytery shall meet at least twice a year on its own adjournment; and when any emergency shall require a meeting sooner than the time to which it stands adjourned, the Moderator, or, in case of his absence, death, or inability to act, the Stated Clerk shall, with the concurrence, or at the request of two Ministers and two Ruling Elders of different churches, call a special meeting. For this purpose he shall give notice, specifying the particular business of the intended meeting, to every Minister belonging to the Presbytery, and to the Session of every vacant church, in due time previous to the meeting, which shall not be less than ten days. And nothing shall be transacted at such special meeting besides the particular business for which the court has thus been convened.

PCUS 1869 draft, V-4-1

PCUS 1867 draft, V-4-1

Northern Tradition :
PCUSA 1821, 10-2

OPC 2003, 14-1 – 3

BPC 2003, 9-1


COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
, on Chapter V., section IV., Par. 8 :
79—VIII. The Presbytery shall meet at least twice a year on its own adjournment; and when any emergency shall require a meeting sooner than the time to which it stands adjourned, the Moderator, or, in the case of his absence, death, or inability to act, the Stated Clerk shall, with the concurrence, or at the request of two Ministers and two Ruling Elders of different churches, call a special meeting. For this purpose he shall give notice, specifying the particular business of the intended meeting, to every Minister belonging to the Presbytery, and to the Session of every vacant church, in due time previous to the meeting, which shall not be less than ten days. And nothing shall be transacted at such special meeting besides the particular business for which the court has been thus convened.
A meeting of Presbytery, then, is a single session, or a series of sessions.
A meeting "on its own adjournment" is a "stated meeting" (par. 54), and not a part of the sessions of a meeting. It is the intention that a Presbytery shall hold at least two stated meetings a year, not counting adjourned sessions. Regular meeting is a synonym of stated meeting.
The power of the Moderator to call a special meeting before the time of the stated or regular meeting (par. 55) is here limited in the case of the Moderator of the Presbytery, for he is not to call it unless with the concurrence of two Ministers and two Ruling Elders of different churches. Is he bound to call it upon the request of these four, when in his own judgment there is no emergency requiring it? No. To him, as Moderator, belongs some authority in this matter; but if he had no discretion but to call it at the request of less than a quorum, he would have no authority at all. Less than a quorum cannot force a meeting; for the power of the Moderator as defined in paragraph 55 is not here taken away, but only limited. Otherwise a very small minority, even less than a quorum, could force a special meeting in such conditions as would permit the attendance of so few that they would be a majority, and thus the Presbytery would be at the mercy of a faction. But the Moderator, who is assumed to represent the Presbytery, and who, in the exercise of his discretion, would properly consider what the Presbytery would desire, may protect the Presbytery against design and useless expense and trouble. However, this conclusion, that the Moderator is not bound to call a meeting when thus requested, is so doubtful that he ought not to refuse unless for very good reasons.
That the whole spirit of the paragraph discourages special meetings is evident from the three prudential and preventative requirements: that the two Ruling Elders must be of different churches, thus increasing the difficulty of getting the number; that so long, and so universal, and so particular a notice
must be sent out; and that nothing can be transacted at the special meeting but what is specified in the call.
That these precautions may not make a special meeting impossible, in case the call cannot be issued by the Moderator, on account of absence, death, or inability, the Clerk, who will be generally known, is to act in his place; but the Clerk is not to act in case the Moderator, being compos mentis, refuses to call a meeting.
The actions of a meeting not properly called are void if called in question.



Chapter Index [links are to Paragraph 1 in 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]

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