.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 14 : The General Assembly

Paragraph 2 : Membership

14-2. The General Assembly, which is a permanent court, shall meet at least annually upon its own adjournment. It shall consist of all teaching elders in good standing with their Presbyteries, and ruling elders as elected by their Session. Each congregation is entitled to two ruling elder representatives for the first 350 communing members or fraction thereof, and one additional ruling elder for each additional 500 communing members or fraction thereof.

[DIGEST:The current PCA text dates to 1991. The basis of the current text first came before the 18th GA (1990) as Overture 1, from Susquehanna Valley Presbytery (p. 121). The Amended Overture (p. 122) was sent to the Presbyteries and approved by vote of 36 for and 8 against (1991, p. 51-52). Mississippi Valley and Westminster Presbyteries were strongly against the amendment. This 1991 amendment was working from the text which had stood since 1978. In 1977, Resolution 4 was presented by TE Joseph A. Warner, proposing the amendment shown below and arguing that the 1973 text was "unclear as to whom constitute General Assembly." Warner's amendment was adopted by vote
of 17-3-1, the (M6GA, 1978, 6-111, III.1, p. 110)]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
PCA 1978, 15-2
"The General Assembly, which is a permanent court, shall meet at least annually upon its own adjournment, and shall consist of all Teaching Elders in good standing with their Presbyteries, and Ruling Elders in the ratio of one from each congregation for each 500 members, or fraction thereof, but not to exceed five Ruling Elder commissioners from any one congregation."

PCA 1973, 15-2, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, page 135
The General Assembly, which is a permanent court, shall meet at least annually upon its own adjournment, and shall consist of all minister members of the Presbyteries and ruling elders from each congregation in the ratio of one ruling elder for each 500 members, or fraction thereof, but not to exceed five Commissioners from any one congregation.

Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 15-2, Proposed text, pp. 17-18
The General Assembly, which is a permanent court, shall meet at least annually upon its own adjournment, and shall consist of Commissioners from the Presbyteries in the following proportion, namely : The membership of the Assembly shall be set at 350, and it shall be the duty of the Stated Clerk to allocate the number of Commissioners from each Presbytery on the basis of the statistical reports of the previous year.

PCUS 1933, XVII, § 86
and
PCUS 1925, XVII, § 86
The General Assembly, which is a permanent court, shall meet at least annually upon its own adjournment, and shall consist of Commissioners from the Presbyteries in the following proportion, namely : Every Presbytery shall be entitled to send one Minister and one Ruling Elder ; but if the number of communicants in its churches and Ministers on its roll together be over 4,000, it shall be entitled to send an additional Minister and Ruling Elder ; and in like proportion for every 4,000 communicants and Ministers.

PCUS 1879, V-6-2

The General Assembly shall meet at least annually, and shall consist of commissioners from the Presbyteries in the following proportion, viz : Every Presbytery shall be entitled to send one Minister and one Ruling Elder ; but if it consists of more than twenty-four ministerial members, it shall send an additional Minister and Ruling Elder.

PCUS 1869 draft, V-6-2
The General Assembly shall meet at least annually, and shall consist of commissioners from the Presbyteries in the following proportion, viz: Every Presbytery shall be entitled to send one Minister and one Ruling Elder; but if it consists of more than twenty-four ministerial members, it shall send an additional Minister and Ruling Elder.

PCUS 1867 draft, V-6-2
The general assembly shall meet at least annually, and shall consist of commissioners from the presbyteries in the following proportion, viz: Every presbytery shall be entitled to send one minister and one ruling elder; but if it consists of more than twenty-four ministerial members, it shall send an additional minister and elder.

PCUSA 1821, XI-2

The General Assembly shall consist of an equal delegation of bishops and elders from each presbytery, in the following proportion; viz. each presbytery, consisting of not more than nine ministers shall send one minister and one elder; each presbytery, consisting of more than nine ministers and not more than eighteen, shall send two ministers and two elders; and in like proportion, for every nine ministers, in any presbytery: And these delegates so appointed shall be styled, Commissioners to the General Assembly.

PCUSA 1815, XI-2
The General Assembly shall consist of an equal delegation of bishops and elders from each presbytery, in the following proportion: viz. each presbytery, consisting of not more than six ministers shall send one minister and one elder; each presbytery, consisting of more than six ministers and not more than twelve, shall send two ministers and two elders; and in like proportion, for every six ministers, in any presbytery: And these delegates, so appointed, shall bear the title of Commissioners to the General Assembly.

[By 1934, the PCUSA had increased the base standard to twenty-four ministers.]


OTHER COMPARISONS :

OPC 2003, 15-2

The general assembly, which is the governing body of the whole church, shall consist of not more than one hundred and fifty-five voting commissioners, including the moderator and stated clerk of the previous assembly and such ministers and ruling elders as are commissioned by the respective presbyteries in accordance with proportions determined by a previous general assembly. In the event that the general assembly fails to establish such proportions, the next general assembly shall consist of every minister and of one ruling elder from every local church.

BPC 2003, 10-1
The General Synod of this Church shall consist of every minister and of elders from particular churches, according to the ratio set forth in Chapter IX, section 2. (i.e, 2. Every congregation shall be represented by at least one elder. Congregations having from three hundred to six hundred communicant members on the rolls shall be represented by two elders; those with six hundred to nine hundred communicant members by three elders; those with nine hundred to twelve hundred communicant members by four elders, and larger congregations in the same ratio thereafter.)


COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, p. ), on V-6-2 :
87.--II. The General Assembly shall meet at least annually, and shall consist of commissioners from the Presbyteries in the following proportion, viz : Every Presbytery shall be entitled to send one Minister and one Ruling Elder ; but if it consists of more than twenty-four ministerial members, it shall send an additional Minister and Ruling Elder.
This makes the number of Ministers and Ruling Elders in the Assembly equal. It also operates as an inducement to divide Presbyteries when they come to have many more than twenty-four Ministers. (Cf. remarks under 72.)



©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]