.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 24 : Election, Ordination and Installation of Ruling Elders and Deacons

Paragraph 6 : Installation

24-6. The day having arrived, and the Session being convened in the presence of the congregation, a sermon shall be preached after which the presiding minister shall state in a concise manner the warrant and nature of the office of ruling elder, or deacon, together with the character proper to be sustained and the duties to be fulfilled. Having done this, he shall propose to the candidate, in the presence of the church, the following questions, namely :
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as originally given, to be the inerrant Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures; and do you further promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, you will, on your own initiative, make known to your Session the change which has taken place in your views since the assumption of this ordination vow?
3. Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in America, in conformity with the general principles of biblical polity?
4. Do you accept the office of ruling elder (or deacon, as the case may be) in this church, and promise faithfully to perform all the duties thereof, and to endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the Gospel in your life, and to set a worthy example before the Church of which God has made you an officer?
5. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
6. Do you promise to strive for the purity, peace, unity and edification of the Church?
The ruling elder or deacon elect having answered in the affirmative, the minister shall address to the members of the church the following question:
Do you, members of this church, acknowledge and receive this brother as a ruling elder (or deacon), and do you promise to yield him all that honor, encouragement and obedience in the Lord to which his office, according to the Word of God and the Constitution of this Church, entitles him?
The members of the church having answered this question in the affirmative, by holding up their right hands, the candidate shall then be set apart, with prayer by the minister or any other Session member and the laying on of the hands of the Session, to the office of ruling elder (or deacon). Prayer being ended, the members of the Session (and the deacons, if the case be that of a deacon) shall take the newly ordained officer by the hand, saying in words to this effect:
We give you the right hand of fellowship, to take part in this office with us.
The minister shall then say:
I now pronounce and declare that _________________________________ has been regularly elected, ordained and installed a ruling elder (or deacon) in this church, agreeable to the Word of God, and according to the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America; and that as such he is entitled to all encouragement, honor and obedience in the Lord: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
After which the minister or any other member of the Session shall give to the ruling elder (or deacon) and to the church an exhortation suited to the occasion.


[DIGEST:Changes instituted in BCO 24-6 date to 1988 [M16GA, 16-10, Item 13, p. 104. Note that the current question number 5 was not included prior to the 1925 PCUS revision. Inclusion of this question allows the set of questions to more closely parallel those questions asked of the minister or teaching elder (BCO 21-5)]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS :
PCA 1973, 25-5, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, PP. 142-143
[In its consideration of the Proposed Book of Church Order, the First General Assembly made one change in BCO 25-5, such that Question #1 read as follows:
"1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the inerrant Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?" Otherwise the text was unchanged from the proposed text.]

Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 25-5, Proposed text, pp. 33-34
The day having arrived, and the Session being convened in the presence of the congregation, a sermon shall be preached, if convenient; after which the presiding Minister shall state in a concise manner the warrant and nature of the office of Ruling Elder, or Deacon, together with the character proper to be sustained and the duties to be fulfilled. Having done this, he shall propose to the candidate, in the presence of the church, the following questions, namely :
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible and inerrant rule of faith and practice?
2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures; and do you further promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, you will, on your own initiative, make known to your Session the change which has taken place in your views since the assumption of this ordination vow?
3. Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of the __________________________, as being that which conforms to the general principles of Biblical polity?
4. Do you accept the office of Ruling Elder (or Deacon, as the case may be) in this church, and promise faithfully to perform all the duties thereof, and to endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the Gospel in your life, and to set a worthy example before the church of which God has made you an officer?
5. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
6. Do you promise to study the peace, unity, edification, and purity of the Church?
The Ruling Elder or Deacon elect having answered in the affirmative, the Minister shall address to the members of the church the following question, namely:
Do you, members of this church, acknowledge and receive this brother as a Ruling Elder (or Deacon), and do you promise to yield him all that honor, encouragement and obedience in the Lord to which his office, according to the Word of God and the Constitution of this Church, entitles him?
The members of the church having answered this question in the affirmative, by holding up their right hands, the Minister shall proceed to set apart the candidate with prayer and the laying on of hands of the Session, to the office of Ruling Elder (or Deacon). Prayer being ended, the members of the Session (and the Deacons, if the case be that of a Deacon) shall take the newly ordained officer by the hand, saying, in words to this effect: "We give you the right hand of fellowship, to take part in this office with us." The Minister shall then say:
" I now pronounce and declare that A.B. has been regularly elected, ordained and installed a Ruling Elder (or Deacon) in this church, agreeably to the Word of God, and according to the Constitution of the _________________________; and that as such he is entitled to all encouragement, honor and obedience in the Lord: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen." After which he shall give to the Ruling Elder (or Deacon) and to the church an exhortation suited to the occasion.

PCUS 1925, XXVI-§148
The day having arrived, and the Session being convened in the presence of the congregation, a sermon shall be preached, if convenient; after which the presiding Minister shall state in a concise manner the warrant and nature of the office of Ruling Elder, or Deacon, together with the character proper to be sustained, and the duties to be fulfilled. Having done this, he shall propose to the candidate, in the presence of the church, the following questions, viz. :
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures; and do you further promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, you will, on your own initiative, make known to your Session the change which has taken place in your views since the assumption of this ordination vow?
3. Do you approve of the government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in the United States?
4. Do you accept the office of Ruling Elder (or Deacon, as the case may be,) in this church, and promise faithfully to perform all the duties thereof, and to endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the Gospel in your life, and to set a worthy example before the church of which God has made you an officer?
5. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
6. Do you promise to study the peace, unity, edification and purity of the Church?
The Ruling Elder or Deacon elect having answered in the affirmative, the Minister shall address to the members of the church the following question, viz. :
Do you, the members of this church, acknowledge and receive this brother as a Ruling Elder (or Deacon), and do you promise to yield him all that honour, encouragement, and obedience in the Lord, to which his office, according to the Word of God and the Constitution of this Church, entitles him?
The members of the church having answered this question in the affirmative, by holding up their right hands, the Minister shall proceed to set apart the candidate, with prayer and the laying on of the hands of the Session, to the office of Ruling Elder (or Deacon, as the case may be.) Prayer being ended, the members of the Session (and the Deacons, if the case be that of a Deacon) shall take the newly ordained officer by the hand, saying, in words to this effect : “We give you the right hand of fellowship, to take part in this office with us.” The Minister shall then say, “I now pronounce and declare that A. B. has been regularly elected, ordained, and installed a Ruling Elder (or Deacon) in this Church, agreeably to the Word of God, and according to the Constitution of the Presbyterian church in the United States; and that as such he is entitled to all encouragement, honor, and obedience in the Lord : In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” After which he shall give to the Ruling Elder (or Deacon) and to the church an exhortation suited to the occasion.

PCUS 1879, VI.4.2

II. The day having arrived, and the Session being convened in the presence of the church, a sermon shall be preached, if convenient; after which the presiding Minister shall state in a concise manner the warrant and nature of the office of Ruling Elder or Deacon, together with the character proper to be sustained, and the duties to be fulfilled. Having done this, he shall propose to the candidate, in the presence of the church, the following questions, viz. :
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?
3. Do you approve of the government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in the United States?
4. Do you accept the office of Ruling Elder, (or Deacon, as the case may be,) in this church, and promise faithfully to perform all the duties thereof?
5. Do you promise to study the peace, unity, edification and purity of the Church?
The Ruling Elder or Deacon elect having answered in the affirmative, the Minister shall address to the members of the church the following question, viz. :
Do you, the members of this church, acknowledge and receive this brother as a Ruling Elder (or Deacon), and do you promise to yield him all that honour, encouragement, and obedience in the Lord, to which his office, according to the Word of God and the Constitution of this Church, entitles him?
The members of the church having answered this question in the affirmative, by holding up their right hands, the Minister shall proceed to set apart the candidate, with prayer and the laying on of the hands of the Session, to the office of Ruling Elder (or Deacon, as the case may be.) Prayer being ended, the members of the Session (and the Deacons, if the case be that of a Deacon) shall take the newly ordained officer by the hand, saying, in words to this effect : “We give you the right hand of fellowship, to take part in this office with us.” The Minister shall then say, “I now pronounce and declare that A. B. has been regularly elected, ordained, and installed a Ruling Elder (or Deacon) in this Church, agreeably to the Word of God, and according to the Constitution of the Presbyterian church in the United States; and that as such he is entitled to all encouragement, honor, and obedience in the Lord : In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” After which he shall give to the Ruling Elder (or Deacon) and to the church an exhortation suited to the occasion.

PCUS 1869 draft, VI.4.2
II. The day having arrived, and the Session being convened in the presence of the Congregation, a sermon shall be preached, after which the moderating Minister shall state in a concise manner the warrant and nature of the office of Ruling Elder, or Deacon, together with the character proper to be sustained, and the duties to be fulfilled by the officer elect. Having done this, he shall propose to the candidate, in the presence of the Congregation, the following questions, viz:
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?
3. Do you approve of the government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in the United States?
4. Do you accept the office of Ruling Elder, (or Deacon, as the case may be,) in this Congregation, and promise faithfully to perform all the duties thereof?
5. Do you promise to study the peace, unity, edification and purity of the Church?
The Ruling Elder or Deacon elect having answered in the affirmative, the Minister shall address to the members of the Congregation the following question, viz:
Do you, the members of this Congregation, acknowledge and receive this brother as a Ruling Elder, (or Deacon,) and do you promise to yield him all that honour, encouragement, and obedience in the Lord, to which his office, according to the Word of God and the Constitution of this Church, entitles him?
The members of the Congregation having answered this question in the affirmative, by holding up their right hands, the Minister shall proceed to set apart the candidate, with prayer and the laying on of the hands of the Session, to the office of Ruling Elder, (or Deacon, as the case may be.) Prayer being ended, the members of the Session shall take the newly ordained officer by the hand, saying, in words to this purpose, “We give you the right hand of fellowship to take part in this office with us.” The Minister shall then say, “I now pronounce
and declare that A. B. has been regularly elected, ordained, and installed a Ruling Elder, (or Deacon,) in this Congregation, agreeably to the Word of God, and according to the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in the United States; and that as such he is entitled to all encouragement, honour, and obedience in the Lord: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” After which he shall give to the Ruling Elder, (or Deacon,) and to the Congregation an exhortation suited to the occasion.

PCUS 1867 draft, VI.4.2
II. The day having arrived, and the session being convened in the presence of the congregation, a sermon shall be preached, after which the moderating minister shall state in a concise manner the warrant and nature of the office of ruling elder, or deacon, together with the character proper to be sustained, and the duties to be fulfilled by the officer elect; having done this, he shall propose to the candidate, in the presence of the congregation, the following questions, viz:
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this church as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?
3. Do you approve of the government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in the United States?
4. Do you accept the office of ruling elder (or deacon, as the case may be,) in this congregation, and promise faithfully to perform all the duties thereof?
5. Do you promise to study the peace, unity, edification and purity of the church?
The elder or deacon elect having answered in the affirmative, the minister shall address to the members of the congregation the following question, viz:
Do you, the members of this congregation, acknowledge and receive this brother as a ruling elder, (or deacon) and do you promise to yield him all that honor, encouragement, and obedience in the Lord, to which his office, according to the word of God and the constitution of this church entitles him?
The members of the congregation having answered this question in the affirmative, by holding up their right hands, the minister shall proceed to set apart the candidate by prayer, with the laying on of the hands of the session, or congregational presbytery, to the office of ruling elder, (or deacon, as the case may be). Prayer being ended, the members of the session shall take the newly ordained officer by the hand, saying, in words to this purpose, “We give you the right hand of fellowship to take part in this ministry with us.” The minister shall then say, “I now declare that A. B. has been regularly elected, ordained, and installed a ruling elder (or deacon) in this congregation, and that as such he is entitled to all honor, encouragement, and obedience in the Lord: In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.” After which he shall give to the elder (or deacon) and to the congregation an exhortation suited to the occasion.

PCUSA, 1839, Chapter XIII, "Of Electing and Ordaining Ruling Elders and Deacons", §5
IV. After sermon, the minister shall state, in a concise manner, the warrant and nature of the office of ruling elder or deacon, together with the character proper to be sustained, and the duties to be fulfilled by the officer elect, having done this, he shall propose to the candidate, in the presence of the congregation, the following questions :--viz.
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the confession of faith of this church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?
3. Do you approve of the government and discipline of the Presbyterian church in these United States?
4. Do you accept the office of ruling elder (or deacon, as the case may be) in this congregation, and promise faithfully to perform all the duties thereof?
5. Do you promise to study the peace, unity, and purity of the church?
The elder, or deacon elect, having answered these questions in the affirmative, the minister shall address to the members of the church the following question :--viz.
Do you, the members of this church, acknowledge and receive this brother as a ruling elder, (or deacon) and do you promise to yield him all that honour, encouragement, and obedience, in the Lord, to which his office, according to the word of God, and the constitution of this church, entitles him?
The members of the church having answered this question in the affirmative, by holding up their right hands, the minister shall proceed to set apart the candidate, by prayer, to the office of ruling elder, (or deacon, as the case may be) and shall give to him, and to the congregation, an exhortation suited to the occasion.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, pp. 133-139) on BCO VI-4-2:
The day having arrived, and the Session being convened in the presence of the church, a sermon shall be preached, if convenient; after which the presiding Minister shall state in a concise manner the warrant and nature of the office of Ruling Elder or Deacon, together with the character proper to be sustained and the duties to be fulfilled.
The presiding Minister is, of course, the Moderator of the Session, which is in session from the beginning of this service of ordination, the ordination being by the Session and not by the Minister.
Having done this, he shall propose to the candidate, in the presence of the church, the following questions, viz.:
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
As this is not intended to inquire into a man's opinion as to the genuineness of particular readings, so not as to the authenticity of particular books, but into his opinion concerning these Scriptures as a whole. It is purposely asked whether they are the word of God, instead of whether they contain the word of God ; for, though there are senses in which it might be more exact to say that they contain the word of God, yet, unless one believes they they are, being the word or teaching of some one person, God's Word, he is not able to answer this question affirmatively in the sense intended. [Note: Here Ramsay appears to equivocate from a firm stand on the Scriptures as the Word of God, infallible and inerrant. The PCA was careful at its formation to underscore the true nature of the Scriptures.]


OVERTURES:

CONSTITUTIONAL INQUIRY:
1986, 14-52, Item 16, p. 126.
That the answer of the Permanent Committee concerning Constitutional Inquiry #8 from the Trinity Presbyterian Church, be ratified.
1986, Appendix I, 8, p. 331
3. Can a congregation by its vote in a congregational meeting rotate all of its elders off of the session and all of its deacons off of the diaconate? (without rotating anyone on)
4. With regard to BCO 24-6, what is the procedure to follow if an entire session 'becomes unacceptable in his (its) official capacity to a majority of the church?' Obviously the entire session will not act to dissolve itself; what can the congregation do if the session will not act?
ANSWER:
3. No. Officers may be removed from the session or diaconal board apart from a rotational plan in accordance with BCO 24-6 or other disciplinary provisions of the BCO. Where a rotational system for officers has been adopted, (see answer to #2 above) rotation of officers off the session or diaconal board should be carried out in accordance with that plan.
4. Where an insurmountable conflict occurs between a session and the congregation, the presbytery may be invited to arbitrate the conflict (BCO 13-9, 40-5, 41, 42, 43).

1986, 14-52, Item 44, p. 128. That the answer of the Permanent Committee concerning Constitutional Inquiry #15 from Covenant Presbyterian Church, be ratified.
1986, Appendix I, Item 15, p. 336. Constitutional Inquiry #15. From Covenant Presbyterian Church.
May a congregation, by vote at a congregational meeting, dissolve the session?
ANSWER:
The congregation may not dissolve the Session. The congregation may in accordance with BCO 24-6 by a majority vote in a regularly called congregational meeting request the Session to dissolve the relationship of officers individually, but the ultimate decision rests with the Session. Presbytery may assume original jurisdiction under provisions of BCO 13-9.

1988, 16-77, III, Item 30, p. 178.
That the advice of the Committee on Judicial Business regarding Constitutional Inquiry #6 be ratified.
Constitutional Inquiry #6, from Town North Presbyterian Church, Richardson, TX.
Question, regarding Rotation system for Elders and Deacons:
I. A. Does BCO 24-6 allow a Session as it seeks 'to determine the best measure for promoting the spiritual interests of the church and congregation (12-5), to determine that a previously ordained officer, though chargeable with neither heresy nor immorality, has become unacceptable in his office capacity and thus preclude him being presented to the congregation as a nominee, or
B. Does the BCO anywhere require that such a nominee be allowed to stand for re-election to his former office if he so desires (24-7)?
II. If a ruling Elder or Deacon has not actually served, either by reason of his own decision or lack of nomination, for three years or more (BCO 13-2), is a Session required to proceed with the provisions of BCO 38-2 with the man's consent or BCO 34-10 without the man's consent? If it is not required, may it proceed in this manner?
ANSWER:
I. A. Session must first determine if a man is qualified for office. BCO 24-6 does not apply to inactive elders or deacons. All qualified nominees must be presented for election (24-1).
B. Yes, if he is qualified. To be eligible a man must be qualified in accordance with BCO 24-1 and the Bylaws of the local church must be met.
II. No. An inactive elder (one not presently elected to serve in office on a Session or Diaconate) is not subject to either 38-2 or 34-10.

1989, 17-82, III, Item 20, p. 157. That the advice of the Judicial Business Committee regarding Constitutional Inquiry #4 be ratified, as amended.
Constitutional Inquiry #4, from the Town North Presbyterian Church, Richardson, TX, requesting advice concerning our previous answers to their requests for advice (which have been ratified by the GA) concerning the election of officers.
Their revised questions were:
1. Is a man to be re-examined for qualifications for office each time he is re-nominated in a rotational system?
2. Which view is correct, in the case where an officer who has rotated off active service, but has not been disciplined or removed from office,
a) must he ipso facto be considered as qualified and, thereby, be presented to the congregation as a qualified nominee if nominated; or
b) may he, on examination by the Session, be considered to be unqualified because the Session believes there are circumstances that currently disqualify a nominee but which do not constitute grounds for discipline and/or deposition?
3. In the case where an officer who has rotated off active service, can he be divested of his office other than under BCO 38-2 or BCO 34-10.
ANSWER:
The Committee advises the Town North Presbyterian Church that the answers to their questions are:
1. & 2. there is no provision in the BCO to answer these questions.
3. An elder or deacon not presently serving on a Session or Diaconate cannot be divested except in accordance with 24-6, 38-2, or 34-10.
Notation: The answer to question 3 above is an amplification of paragraph II of the 16th General Assembly's answer to Constitutional Inquiry #6 (M16GA, p. 178, Item 30). BCO 38-2 does not apply to an inactive officer unless the officer initiates the procedure of 38-2.
Adopted as amended.

JUDICIAL CASES:
Judicial Case #93, Complaint of Roberts vs. New River Presbytery [Case 92-2], 1993, 21-71, III, Item 3, p. 199.
Dissenting Opinion #1
"...The Respondent's brief is helpful in pointing out that BCO 24-6 gives the Session discretion in dissolving a relationship between a Ruling Elder and a local congregation when the dissolution is requested by the congregation or when the Ruling Elder tenders his resignation. The Session may, but is not required to dissolve the relation (Brief of the Respondent, Judicial Case 92-2, p. 3). It is clear that this constitutional provision for Biblical oversight by the Session is not contrary to BCO16-2's provision for the congregation to elect its own officers. Even though 24-6 relates only to the Ruling Elder, it sheds light on the case of dissolving the pastoral relation. If the provisions of 24-6 are not contrary to 16-2, then Presbytery's similar power in 13-4 is not either...."

and Judicial Case #94, Complaint of Parks, et al. vs. Central Carolina Presbytery [Case 92-5], 1993, 21-71, III, Item 4, p. 210
REASONING:
1. We do not believe BCO 24-6 is a barrier to multiple resignations. The Session discussed and unanimously adopted a plan whereby some elders would voluntarily resign from their active positions on that Session. In adopting a plan that calls for multiple resignations, a Session that is ruling together, consults, counsels and seeks recommendations from one another regarding the validity and wisdom of such resignations, acts in conformity with BCO 24-6.



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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]