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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 20 : The Election of Pastors

Paragraph 10 :

20-10. A congregation desiring to call a pastor from his charge, shall, by its commissioners to the Presbytery, prosecute the call before its Presbytery. The Presbytery, having heard all the parties, may, upon viewing the whole case, either recommend them to desist from prosecuting the call; or may order it to be delivered to the minister to whom it is addressed, with or without advice; or may decline to place the call in his hands; as it shall appear most beneficial for the peace and edification of the Church at large.
No pastor shall be transferred without his own consent, if the parties are not ready to have the matter decided at the meeting then in progress, a written citation shall be given the minister and his church to appear before the Presbytery at its next meeting, which citation shall be read from the pulpit during a regular service, at least two weeks before the intended meeting.

[Historical Summary : The current PCA text dates to ____. The paragraph remains closely similar to that of PCA 1973 and the antecedent PCUS editions.]

Background and Comparison :
1. PCA 1973, 21-10, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 140
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 21-10, Proposed text, p. 28
3. PCUS 1933, XXIII, §130
4. PCUS 1925, XXIII, §130
A congregation desiring to call a Pastor from his charge, shall, by its commissioners, represent to the Presbytery the ground on which it pleads his removal. The Presbytery, having heard all the parties, may, upon viewing the whole case, either recommend them to desist from prosecuting the call ; or may order it to be delivered to the Minister to whom it is addressed, with or without advice ; or may decline to place the call in his hands ; as it shall appear most for the peace and edification of the Church at large ; or it may refer the whole matter to the Synod for advice and direction ; and no Pastor shall be transferred without his own consent. If the parties are not ready to have the matter issued at the meeting then in progress, a written citation shall be given the Minister and his church to appear before the Presbytery at its next meeting, which citation shall be read from the pulpit on the Sabbath after the sermon, at least two Sabbaths before the intended meeting.

PCUS 1879, VI-5-11

A congregation desiring to call a Pastor from his charge, shall, by its commissioners, represent to the Presbytery the ground on which it pleads his removal. The Presbytery having heard all the parties, may, upon viewing the whole case, either recommend them to desist from prosecuting the call, or may order it to be delivered to the Minister to whom it is addressed, with or without advice ; or may decline to place the call in his hands, as it shall appear most for the peace and edification of the Church at large ; or it may refer the whole matter to the Synod for advice and direction ; and no Pastor shall be transferred without his own consent. If the parties are not ready to have the matter issued at the meeting then in progress, a written citation shall be given the Minister and his church to appear before the Presbytery at its next meeting, which citation shall be read from the pulpit on the Sabbath after sermon, at least two Sabbaths before the intended meeting.


PCUS 1869 draft, VI-5-12
A Congregation desiring to call a settled Pastor from his present charge, shall, by its commissioners, represent to the Presbytery the ground on which it pleads his removal. The Presbytery having heard all the parties, may, upon the view of the whole case, either recommend them to desist from prosecuting the call; or may order it to be delivered to the Minister to whom it is addressed, with or without advice; or may decline to place the call in his hands, as it shall appear most for the peace and edification of the Church at large; or it may refer the whole affair to the next Synod for advice and direction; but no Pastor shall be translated without his own consent. If the parties are not ready to have the matter issued at the meeting then in progress, a written citation shall be given the Minister and his Congregation to appear before the Presbytery at its next meeting, which citation shall be read from the pulpit on the Sabbath, after sermon, at least two Sabbaths before the intended meeting.

PCUS 1867 draft, VI-5-12
A congregation desiring to call a settled pastor from his present charge, shall, by its commissioners, represent to the presbytery the ground on which it pleads his removal. The presbytery, having heard all the parties, may, upon the view of the whole case, either recommend them to desist from prosecuting the call, or may order it to be delivered to the minister to whom it is addressed, with or without advice; or may decline to place the call in his hands, as it shall appear most for the peace and edification of the church at large; or it may refer the whole affair to the next synod for advice and direction; but no pastor shall be translated without his own consent. If the parties are not ready to have the matter issued at the meeting then in progress, a written citation shall be given the minister and his congregation to appear before the presbytery at its next meeting, which citation shall be read from the pulpit on the Sabbath, after sermon, at least two Sabbaths before the intended meeting.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, pp. 152-154) on VI-5-11:

126.--XI. A congregation desiring to call a Pastor from his charge, shall, by its commissioners,
109,
represent to the Presbytery the ground on which it pleads his removal. The Presbytery having heard all the parties,
The Pastor himself, as well as his church and the church calling, is one of the parties ; but his is not obliged to indicate his opinion.
may, upon viewing the whole case, either recommend them to desist from prosecuting the call,
This recommendation the calling church is not obliged to follow,
or may order it to be delivered to the Minister to whom it is addressed, with or without advice ;
The Presbytery may be unwilling to prevent his translation without his consent, and yet may feel constrained to advise him to decline the call ; or the Presbytery may be so strongly persuaded that his translation is desirable for the general good as to advise him to accept, although it is without authority to command.
or may decline to place the call in his hands,
however much any or all the parties may desire the translation,
as it shall appear most for the peace and edification of the Church at large ; or it may refer the whole matter to the Synod for advice and direction ;
As a lower court may refer any question according to 247-254 [cf. PCA 41.1-6],
and no Pastor shall be transferred without his own consent.
Although he may, without his consent, be removed, that is, have his pastoral relation dissolved.
If the parties are not ready to have the matter issued at the meeting then in progress, a written citation shall be given the Minister and his church to appear before the Presbytery at its next meeting, which citation shall be read from the pulpit
of his church
on the Sabbath after sermon, at least two Sabbaths before the intended meeting.
The meaning is not that the citation shall be read at least twice, but that it shall be read once as much as two Sabbaths before. This gives the church ample time in which to meet as a congregation and send its answer, by commissioners or otherwise. The next meeting of Presbytery may be its next regular meeting or an adjourned meeting. The principle is, that the Presbytery must not, unless in such extraordinary cases as are meant in the latter part of 77:6 [cf. PCA 13-9c], dissolve a pastoral relation without giving both the Pastor and the church opportunity to show why it should not be dissolved.



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