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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 26 : Amending the Constitution of the Church

Paragraph 2 : Amending the BCO

26-2. Amendments to the Book of Church Order may be made only in the following manner:
(1) Approval of the proposed amendment by majority of those present and voting in the General Assembly, and its recommendation to the Presbyteries.
(2) The advice and consent of two-thirds (2/3) of the Presbyteries.
(3) The approval and enactment by a subsequent General Assembly by a majority of those present and voting.

[DIGEST: Action on BCO 27-2 was suspended by the First General Assembly until after the final report of the Constitutional Documents Committee to the Second General Assembly. Some light is shed on the motivation behind that action by the note written in the margins of a copy of the Proposed BCO preserved at the PCA Historical Center, where at 26-1 and 2 it states : "Dr. Taylor wants to suspend action on this til 2d Assembly."The text of the current PCA edition dates to __________.

Currently in 2010, Covenant Presbytery is bringing Overture 5 before the 38th General Assembly, seeking to amend BCO 26-2 to read as follows:

26-2. Amendments to any portion of the Book of Church Order, whether constitutionally binding or not, may be made only in the following manner:
(1) Approval of the proposed amendment by majority of those present and voting in the General Assembly, and its recommendation to the Presbyteries.
(2) The advice and consent of two-thirds (2/3) of the Presbyteries.
(3) The approval and enactment by a subsequent General Assembly by a majority of those present and voting.

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
PCA 1973, 27-2, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly,
Amendments to the Book of Church Order may be made only in the following manner:
(1) Approval of the proposed amendment by majority of the General Assembly and its recommendation to the Presbyteries.
(2) The advice and consent of two-thirds of the Presbyteries.
(3) The approval and enactment by a subsequent General Assembly by majority vote.

Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 27-2, Proposed text,
Amendments to the Book of Church Order may be made only in the following manner:
(1) Approval of the proposed amendment by three-fourths of the General Assembly and its recommendation to the Presbyteries.
(2) The advice and consent of three-fourths of the Presbyteries.
(3) The approval and enactment by a subsequent General Assembly by three-fourths vote.

PCUS 1933, XXIX, §160
Amendments to the Book of Church Order may be made only in the following manner:
(1) Approval of the proposed amendment by the General Assembly and its recommendation to the Presbyteries.
(2) The advice and consent of a majority of the Presbyteries.
(3) The approval and enactment by a subsequent General Assembly.

PCUS 1879, VII-2
The Book of Church Order may be amended on the recommendation of one General Assembly, when a majority of the Presbyteries advise and consent thereunto, and a succeeding General Assembly shall enact the same.

PCUS 1869 draft, VII-2
The Book of Church Order may be amended on the recommendation of one General Assembly, when a majority of the Presbyteries advise and consent thereunto, and a succeeding General Assembly shall ordain the same.

PCUS 1867 draft, VII-3
The Book of Church Order may be amended on the recommendation of one general assembly, when a majority of the presbyteries advise and consent thereunto, and a succeeding general assembly shall ordain the same, except that the Rules of Parliamentary Order may be amended by a majority of two successive general assemblies.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, p. 168), on VII-2 :
142.--II. The Book of Church Order may be amended on the recommendation of one General Assembly, when a majority of the Presbyteries advise and consent thereunto, and a succeeding General Assembly shall enact the same.
The last clause is not a part of the "when" clause, as shown by the change of tense, but is co-ordinate with the first principle clause. The first statement, then, is that the Book may be amended when the requisite number of Presbyteries advise and consent to a recommendation of amendment by a General Assembly. But the amendment is not yet enacted, it is not yet in the Constitution; only the amendment has been recommended to be made, and the required advice and consent that it be made have been given. It remains for a succeeding General Assembly to make it. But does the word "shall: take away discretion from a subsequent Assembly? Certainly not; for it does not command some particular Assembly to enact the amendment, and, therefore, commands no Assembly to enact it. The whole paragraph means that, before any amendment becomes in force, it shall be enacted by a General Assembly after a majority of the Presbyteries have advised and consented that the amendment be made, and have given this advice and consent, not in response to the motion of one or more individuals or other courts, but in response to a recommendation of a General Assembly. The Presbyteries must not only consent, but advise. The enacting Assembly may be any Assembly regularly convening after a majority of the Presbyteries existing at the time of the enactment have given their advise and consent. The amendment enacted must be precisely that which was recommended and was advised and consented to.



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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]