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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

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

Paragraph 9 :

24-9. When a ruling elder or deacon cannot or does not for a period of one year perform the duties of his office, his official relationship shall be dissolved by the Session and the action reported to the congregation.

[Historical Summary : The current PCA text dates to 1984 [M12GA, 12-14, Item 4, p. 87] and more recently, 2005 [M33GA, 33-8, Item 1, p. 52-54]. Significant here is the change of stipulation from two years, in PCA 1973, to one year in the current text. Note too that the earliest PCUS texts lacked any specification of time out of service.]

Background and Comparison :
1. PCA 1973, 25-8, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 143
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 25-8, Proposed text, p. 35
3. PCUS 1933, XXVII, § 151
4. PCUS 1925, XXVI, § 151
When a Ruling Elder or Deacon makes such change of residence that he cannot or does not for a period of two years perform the duties of his office, his official relationship shall be dissolved by the Session and the action reported to the congregation.

PCUS 1879, VI-4-4

When a Ruling Elder or Deacon removes permanently beyond the bounds of the church which he serves, his official relation shall be thereby dissolved, and the Session shall record the fact.

PCUS 1869 draft, VI-4-4
When a Ruling Elder or Deacon removes permanently beyond the proper bounds of the Congregation which he serves, his official relation shall be thereby dissolved, and the Session shall record the fact.

PCUS 1867 draft,VI-4-4
When a ruling elder or deacon removes beyond the proper bounds of the congregation which he serves, his official relation shall be ipso facto dissolved, and the session shall record the fact.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, pp. 140-141) on : VI-4-4
114.--IV. When a Ruling Elder or Deacon removes permanently beyond the bounds of the church which he serves, his official relation shall be thereby dissolved, and the Session shall record the fact.
The relation is dissolved by the removal, whether the officer obtains a certificate of dismission or not ; and the Session should make record of the fact of permanent removal and the consequent dissolution of official relation, without waiting for an application for dismissal.
There is no provision for releasing a Ruling Elder or Deacon from his official relation on the ground of old age or physical inability (unless so far as paragraph 113 may be construed thus); nor may his official relation be dissolved on such ground except under paragraph 113.
[Where Ramsay observes a failure of the PCUS BCO to address more fully the instance of old age or infirmity, the PCA has addressed the matter with the addition of BCO 24-10.]



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I. King & Head of Church
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RoD
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DfW
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[FoG = Form of Government ; RoD = Rules of Discipline ; DfW = Directory for Worship]