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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 20 : The Election of Pastors

Paragraph 5 :

20-5. On the election of a pastor, if it appears that a large minority of the voters are averse to the candidate who has received a majority of votes, and cannot be induced to concur in the call, the moderator shall endeavor to dissuade the majority from prosecuting it further; but if the electors be nearly or quite unanimous, or if the majority shall insist upon their right to call a pastor, the moderator shall proceed to draw a call in due form, and to have it subscribed by them, certifying at the same time in writing the number of those who do not concur in the call, and any facts of importance, all of which proceedings shall be laid before the Presbytery, together with the call.

[Historical Summary : The current PCA text remains unchanged from that of PCUS 1925, with the minor exception of differences in capitalization. PCA 1973 and earlier versions employ capitalization for the terms "Pastor" and "Moderator". Relatively minor differences distinguish PCUS 1879, the most notable of these being "...the number and circumstances...".]

Background and Comparison :
1. PCA 1973, 21-5, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 139
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 21-5, Proposed text, p. 26
3. PCUS 1933, XXIII, § 125
4. PCUS 1925, XXIII, § 125
On the election of a Pastor, if it appears that a large minority of the voters are averse to the candidate who has received a majority of votes, and cannot be induced to concur in the call, the Moderator shall endeavor to dissuade the majority from prosecuting it further; but if the electors be nearly or quite unanimous, or if the majority shall insist upon their right to call a Pastor, the Moderator shall proceed to draw a call in due form, and to have it subscribed by them, certifying at the same time in writing the number of those who do not concur in the call, and any facts of importance, all of which proceedings shall be laid before the Presbytery, together with the call.

PCUS 1879, VI-3-5

On the election of a Pastor, if it appear that a large minority of the voters are averse from the candidate who has a majority of votes, and cannot be induced to concur in the call, the Moderator shall endeavor to dissuade the majority from prosecuting it further; but if the electors be nearly or quite unanimous, or if the majority shall insist upon their right to call a Pastor, the Moderator in that case shall proceed to draw a call in due form, and to have it subscribed by them, certifying at the same time in writing the number and circumstances of those who do not concur in the call, all of which proceedings shall be laid before the Presbytery together with the call.

PCUS 1869 draft, VI-3-5
On the election of a Pastor, if it appear that a large minority of the Congregation are averse from the candidate who has a majority of votes, and cannot be induced to concur in the call, the presiding Minister shall endeavour to dissuade the Congregation from prosecuting it further. But if the Congregation be nearly or entirely unanimous; or if the majority shall insist upon their right to call a Pastor, the presiding Minister, in that case, after using his utmost endeavours to persuade the Congregation to unanimity, shall proceed to draw a call in due form, and to have it subscribed by the electors; certifying at the same time in writing the number and circumstances of those who do not concur in the call; all of which proceedings, along with the result of the vote of the non-communicating members and contributors, shall be laid before the Presbytery, together with the call.

PCUS 1867 draft, VI-3-5
On the election of a pastor, if it appear that a large minority of the congregation are averse from the candidate who has a majority of votes, and cannot be induced to concur in the call, the presiding minister shall endeavor to dissuade the congregation from prosecuting
it further. But if the congregation be nearly or entirely unanimous; or if the majority shall insist upon their right to call a pastor, the presiding minister, in that case, after using his utmost endeavors to persuade the congregation to unanimity, shall proceed to draw a call in due form, and to have it subscribed by the electors; certifying at the same time in writing the number and circumstances of those who do not concur in the call; all of which proceedings, along with the result of the vote of the non-communicating members and contributors, shall be laid before the presbytery, together with the call.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, pp. 130-131), on VI-3-5 :

106.--V. On the election of a Pastor, if it appear that a large minority of the voters are averse from the candidate who has a majority of votes, and cannot be induced to concur in the call, the Moderator shall endeavor to dissuade the majority from prosecuting it further; but if the electors be nearly or quite unanimous, or if the majority shall insist upon their right to call a Pastor, the Moderator in that case shall proceed to draw a call in due form, and to have it subscribed by them, certifying at the same time in writing the number and circumstances of those who do not concur in the call, all of which proceedings shall be laid before the Presbytery together with the call.
The principles of this paragraph should obtain also in the case of the election of Ruling Elders and Deacons.
The directions to the Moderator that he endeavor to dissuade the majority when it appears that the minority will not concur must not be interpreted too strictly ; for it might be that he could not conscientiously make this endeavor. But he should at least press upon them the importance of unanimity, and a sense of the responsibility that they assume. Sometimes, however, there is a wilful and obstinate minority who oppose, as Pastor, the very servant of his that Christ presents to them, and who ought not to be yielded to.
The full and exact facts should be certified to the Presbytery by the Moderator, that the Presbytery may have all the data for judging. What is meant by the circumstances of those who do not concur in the call is not clear. Surely it cannot mean financial circumstances especially. Probably it means the circumstances connected with their non-concurrence, including the grounds and intensity of their opposition. The financial ability of the church to meet its proposed obligations the Presbytery would need to know ; but this it can learn from the commissioners. That circumstances cannot mean financial ability, or other thing of the sort, is certain, from the fact that the Moderator would not as a rule know such facts so well as the commissioners ; besides, it were contrary to the whole spirit of the Form of Government to give weight to any member's vote because of his wealth.



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