.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 15 : Ecclesiastical Commissions

Paragraph 2 : On the Duties and Quorum of a Commission

15-2. Among the matters that may be properly executed by commissions are the taking of the testimony in judicial cases, the ordination of ministers, the installation of ministers, the visitation of portions of the church affected with disorder, and the organization of new churches.
Every commission appointed by Presbytery shall consist of at least two teaching elders and two ruling elders, and the Presbytery at the time of the appointment of the commission shall determine what the quorum shall be. However, should a Presbytery clothe a commission with judicial powers and authority to conduct judicial process, or with power to ordain or install a teaching elder of the Gospel, the quorum of such commission shall not be less than two teaching elders and two ruling elders. The quorum for a commission appointed as an interim session need not conform to the requirements of a judicial commission, but only to those of a session (BCO 12-1). When the ordination of a minister is committed to a commission, the Presbytery itself shall conduct the previous examination.

[DIGEST: In the original edition of the PCA BCO (1973), this chapter was designated as Chapter 16. The sentence, "The quorum for a commission appointed as an interim session need not conform to the requirements of a judicial commission, but only to those of a session (BCO 12-1)." was added in 1991 [M19GA, 19-9, Item 4, p. 52]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
PCA 1973, Adopted text, 16-2, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 136
Among the matters that may be properly executed by Commissions are the taking of the testimony in judicial cases, the ordination of Ministers, the installation of Ministers, the visitation of portions of the church affected with disorder, and the organization of new churches.
Every Commission appointed by Presbytery shall consist of at least two Teaching Elders and two Ruling Elders, and the Presbytery at the time of the appointment of the Commission shall determine what the quorum shall be. However, should a Presbytery clothe a Commission with judicial powers and authority to conduct judicial process, or with power to ordain a Teaching Elder of the Gospel, the quorum of such Commissions shall not be less than two Teaching Elders and two Ruling Elders. When the ordination of a Minister is committed to a Commission, the Presbytery itself shall conduct the previous examination.

Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 16-2, Proposed text, p. 20
Among the matters that may be properly executed by Commissions are the taking of the testimony in judicial cases, the ordination of Ministers, the installation of Ministers, the visitation of portions of the church affected with disorder, and the organization of new churches.
Every Commission appointed by Presbytery shall consist of at least two Teaching Elders and two Ruling Elders, and the Presbytery at the time of the appointment of the Commission shall determine what the quorum shall be. However, should a Presbytery clothe a Commission with judicial powers and authority to conduct judicial process, or with power to ordain a Teaching Elder of the Gospel, the quorum of such Commission shall not be less than two Teaching Elders and two Ruling Elders. When the ordination of a Minister is committed to a Commission, the Presbytery itself shall conduct the previous examination.

PCUS 1933, XVIII, § 93
and
PCUS 1925, XVIII, §
93
Among the matters that may be properly executed by Commissions are the taking of the testimony in judicial cases, the ordination of Ministers, the installation of Ministers, the visitation of portions of the Church affected with disorder, and the organization of new churches.
Every Commission appointed by Presbytery shall consist of at least three Ministers and one Ruling Elder, and the Presbytery at the time of the appointment of the Commission shall determine what the quorum shall be. However, should a Presbytery clothe a Commission with judicial powers and authority to conduct judicial process, or with power to ordain a Minister of the Gospel, the quorum of such Commission shall not be less than three Ministers and one Ruling Elder. When the ordination of a Minister is committed to a Commission, the Presbytery itself shall conduct the previous examination.

PCUS 1879, V-7-2

The taking of testimony in judicial cases, the ordination of Ministers, the installation of Ministers, the visitation of portions of the Church affected with disorder, and the organization of new churches, may be executed by commission. The commission for the ordination of a Minister shall always consist of a quorum of the court, but the Presbytery itself shall conduct the previous examinations.

PCUS 1869 draft, V-7-2
Any court above the Session may execute by its commission the taking of testimony in judicial cases, the ordination of Ministers, the installation of Ministers, the visitation of portions of the Church affected with disorder, and the organization of new Congregations. The commission for the ordination of a Minister shall always consist of a quorum of the court, but the Presbytery itself shall conduct the previous examinations.

PCUS 1867 draft, V-7-2
Any court above the session may execute by its commission such business as can be done as properly and safely by a part as by the whole of the members; such as the taking of testimony in judicial cases, the ordination of ministers, the installation of ministers, the visitation of portions of the church affected with disorder, the organization of new congregations. The commission for the ordination of a minister shall always consist of a quorum of the court, but the presbytery itself must conduct the previous examinations.

OTHER COMPARISONS:
UPCNA, 1911, XIX-§81 Objects for Which Appointed.
In general, Commissions may be appointed in delicate or difficult matters requiring much deliberation; as courts of conciliation; for the investigation and adjustment of offenses and irregularities; for the taking of testimony in judicial cases; for the trial of cases; and for the adjudication of Appeals, Complaints, and References.
In addition to the general powers conferred by the foregoing, Commissions may be appointed by Presbytery for the organization of congregations; as Provisional Sessions; for the ordination and installation of Ministers; for the visitation of congregations; and for special missionary work within Presbyterial bounds. Likewise Commissions may be appointed by a Synod or by the General Assembly for the prosecution of some particular work; for the transaction of some special business; and for carrying into effect the acts and decrees of the
Court.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, p. 118-119), on V-7-2:
93.--II. The taking of testimony in judicial cases,
by Session or Presbytery,
the ordination of Ministers, the installation of Ministers, the visitation of portions of the Church affected with disorder, and the organization of new churches,
by Presbytery,
may be executed by commission.
As it might be supposed from regulations elsewhere given that these things could be done only by the court itself, it is here distinctly stated that these things may be done by commission. For whatsoever the court may do, that it may commit to a commission to be done, with such exceptions and limitations as are here or elsewhere stated or implied.
The commission for the ordination of a Minister shall always consist of a quorum of the Court, but the Presbytery itself shall conduct the previous examinations.
A Presbytery may not commit the examination of a licentiate for ordination to a commission ; but the ordination itself it may commit to a commission, provided the commission consissts of as many as three Ministers and one Ruling Elder. A commission for any other purpose may consist of such number, from one up, as the court may determine. That a commission may consist of one only is evident from this, that an Evangelist authorized to organize new churches and to ordain Ruling Elders and Deacons therein, is essentially a commission. The quorum of a commission, except as defined in paragraph 94, or by express order of the appointing court, is a majority of those appointed as the commission. Hence, if Presbytery appoints three Ministers and one Ruling Elder to ordain a Minister, any three of the four will be a quorum of the commission ; but the Presbytery may otherwise define what shall be a quorum.



©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]