.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 15 : Ecclesiastical Commissions

Paragraph 5 :

15-5. a. In the cases committed to it, the Standing Judicial Commission shall have the judicial powers and be governed by the judicial procedures of the General Assembly. The decision of the Standing Judicial Commission shall be the final decision of the General Assembly except as set forth below, to which there may be no complaint or appeal. Members of the Standing Judicial Commission may file concurring or dissenting opinions, or a minority report as set forth in (c) below. The General Assembly may direct the Standing Judicial Commission to retry a case if upon the review of its minutes exceptions are taken with respect to that case.
b. In each case the Standing Judicial Commission shall issue a summary of the facts, a statement of the issues, its judgment and its reasoning, together with any concurring or dissenting opinions, all of which shall be entered on the minutes of the General Assembly and shall be reported by the Stated Clerk to the next General Assembly. The judgment shall be effective from the time of its announcement to the parties.
c. (1) If, within twenty-four (24) hours of the time of adjournment of a Standing Judicial Commission meeting at which a final decision was rendered in a case, at least one-third (1/3) of the voting members of the Standing Judicial Commission file written notice of their intention to file a minority decision with the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, and within twenty (20) days from the adjournment do file such a minority decision, such minority decision shall be considered a minority report and shall be referred, with the report of the Standing Judicial Commission, to the General Assembly. In each instance "file" shall be understood as defined by the Operating Manual for Standing Judicial Commission.
c.(2) No such reference* from the Standing Judicial Commission shall be considered by the General Assembly unless the report of the Standing Judicial Commission and the minority report have been mailed to the clerk of Session of each church at least thirty (30) days prior to the meeting of the General Assembly.
c.(3) The Assembly shall act upon such a reference* from the Standing Judicial Commission, in each case without question, discussion, debate, or amendment, as follows:

a. The Standing Judicial Commission shall have 30 minutes to present its decision to the Assembly.
b. The minority shall have 30 minutes to present its decision to the Assembly.
c. The Standing Judicial Commission shall have 10 minutes to reply to the minority report.
d. The decision of the minority shall be proposed and the General Assembly shall, without question, discussion, debate, or amendment approve or disapprove of the minority report.
e. If the General Assembly disapproves the minority report, the General Assembly shall take up the decision of the Standing Judicial Commission and without question, discussion, debate, or amendment, approve or disapprove of the decision of the Standing Judicial Commission.

c.(4) If the General Assembly approves of a proposed decision, it shall be the decision of the General Assembly, and printed in its minutes. There may be no complaint or appeal from such a final decision of the General Assembly. If the General Assembly finally disapproves of both proposed decisions, it must set the case for hearing before the General Assembly or a special commission appointed by it, and in either instance the case shall be tried on the record as delivered to the Stated Clerk. Any such special commission shall then proceed to consider the case and shall report its decision, in like manner, to the General Assembly for its approval or disapproval. In any event, the full record of the case, including written testimony of witnesses, all documents, exhibits and papers shall be delivered to the Stated Clerk for permanent preservation.

*NOTE: It was the opinion of the 26th General Assembly that "reference" is NOT to be understood as the technical term "reference" in BCO 41-1.


[Digest: In the original edition of the PCA BCO, this chapter was designated as Chapter 16, and there were only four paragraphs. At the 16th General Assembly (1988), BCO 15-1, 15-3, 15-4 and 15-5 were amended, the Presbyteries having first consented to the changes by vote of 29 to 13. [cf. M16GA, pp. 88-89]. A substantial revision of BCO 15-5 was then made in 1997 [M25GA, 25-17, Item 3, p. 114]

Background and Comparison :
PCA 1997 [M25GA, 25-17, Item 3, p. 114]
Text as shown above.

PCA 1993, M23GA, 23-17, Ad Interim Committee on Judicial Procedures, Proposed amendment, p. 83-84.
If General Assembly approves of the judgment, it shall be the action of General Assembly and printed in its minutes. If General Assembly disapproves of the judgment, it must set the case for hearing before the General Assembly or a special commission appointed by it, and in either instance the case shall be tried on the record as delivered to the stated clerk. Any such special commission sahll then proceed and shall report its judgment, in like manner, to the General Assembly for its approval or disapproval. In any event, the full record of the case, including testimony of witnesses, all documents, exhibits and papers shall be delivered to the stated clerk for permanent preservation. There may be no complaint or appeal from a final decision or judgment of the General Assembly.

[The above text was adopted by the 23rd General Assembly and sent to the Presbyteries for advice and consent. Then at the 24th GA, final action was postponed to the 25th GA. See 24-17, A, 1, p. 71 with the AICJP presented a different proposed amendment at that same Assembly. This latter proposed amendment is the one that was finally adopted and which now stands as the text of BCO 15-5.

PCA 1988, 15-5 [M16GA, 16-10, Item 1, pp. 89]

The Standing Judicial Commission shall make a full report of each case directly to the General Assembly, which shall contain a summary of the facts, a statement of the issues, the written briefs of the parties, any recommended judgment of a judicial panel, the reasoning of the Standing Judicial Commission, and its judgment. No such judgment shall be considered by the General Assembly unless the full report of the Standing Judicial Commission has been mailed to the Clerk of Session of each church at least thirty (30) days prior to the meeting of the General Assembly. The General Assembly shall, without question or debate or discussion, approve or disapprove the judgment, or may refer, a debatable motion, any strictly constitutional issue(s) to a study committee. In case of referral, General Assembly shall either dismiss some or all of the specific charges raised in the case or decide the case only after the report of the study committee has been heard and discussed. If General Assembly approves of the judgment, it shall be the action of the General Assembly and printed in its minutes. If the General Assembly disapproves of the judgment, it must set the case for hearing beforre the General Assembly or a Special Commission appointed by it, and in either instance the case shall be tried on the record as delivered to the Stated Clerk. Any such Special Commission shall then proceed and shall report its judgment, in like manner, to the General Assembly for its approval or disapproval. In any event, the full record of the case, including testimony of witnesses, all documents, exhibits and papers shall be delivered to the Stated Clerk for permanent preservation.

PCA 1973, Adopted text, 16-1, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly,
[no comparable text; this chapter had only four paragraphs in 1973]

Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, Proposed text,
[no comparable text]

PCUS 1933,
[no comparable text]

PCUS 1879,

[no comparable text]

PCUS 1869 draft,
[no comparable text]

PCUS 1867 draft,
[no comparable text]

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, p. ), on :
[no comparable coverage of this subject in this chapter]



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