.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 30 : Church Censures

Paragraph 1 : Censures Delineated


30-1. The censures, which may be inflicted by church courts, are admonition, suspension from the Sacraments, excommunication, suspension from office, and deposition from office. The censures of admonition or definite suspension from office shall be administered to an accused who, upon conviction, satisfies the court as to his repentance and makes such restitution as is appropriate. Such censure concludes the judicial process. The censures of indefinite suspension or excommunication shall be administered to an accused who, upon conviction, remains impenitent.

[DIGEST:
The text of PCA 1973 followed that of PCUS 1933 and dated to PCUS 1879 but for the addition of one comma in the latter's first sentence. Changes from the 1973 text were instituted in 1990. The amendment had come before the 17th General Assembly (M17GA, pp. 47-48; see also 17-82, III, 13, p. 152 and pp. 153-155) as part of a larger set of proposed changes (Item 6 included amendments to 30-1; 30-2; 30-3; 34-8; 34-9 and 37-2). 35 Presbyteries had voted in favor of the amendment in the advice and consent stage, but noted errors in the drafting of the amendment deferred the matter to the 18th General Assembly, at which time the amendment was adopted. (cf. M18GA, pp. 46-50).]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
1. PCA 1973, RoD, 4-1, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 146
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, RoD, 4-1, Proposed text, p. 40
3. PCUS 1933, RoD, 4-§177
4. PCUS 1925, RoD, 4-§177
The censures which may be inflicted by church courts are admonition, suspension, excommunication, and deposition. When a lower censure fails to reclaim the delinquent, it may become the duty of the court to proceed to the infliction of a higher censure.

PCUS 1879, Rules of Discipline, IV-1

The censures which may be inflicted by church courts are, admonition, suspension, excommunication, and deposition. When a lower censure fails to reclaim the delinquent, it may become the duty of the court to proceed to the infliction of a higher censure.

PCUS 1869 draft, Canons of Discipline, IV-1
The censures which may be inflicted by Church courts are admonition, suspension, excommunication, and deposition. When a lower censure fails to reclaim the delinquent, it may become the duty of the court to proceed to the infliction of a higher censure—but the censures of excommunication and deposition shall not be inflicted by a Church session without the advice of the Presbytery.

PCUS 1867 draft, Canons of Discipline, IV-1
The censures which may be inflicted by church courts are admonition, suspension, excommunication, and deposition. When a lower censure fails to reclaim the delinquent, it may become the duty of the court to proceed to the infliction of a higher censure—but the censures of excommunication and deposition shall not be inflicted by a church-session without the advice of the presbytery.

OTHER COMPARISONS:

OPC Book of Discipline (2005), Chapter VI - Censure and Restoration, A. Censure.

1. In judicial discipline there are five degrees of censure: admonition, rebuke, suspension, deposition, and excommunication. Censures shall be pronounced in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, as an act of the whole church, by the moderator on behalf of the trial judicatory.
2. If a person who has been adjudged guilty refuses or fails to present himself for censure at the time appointed, the trial judicatory shall cite him to appear at another time. If he does not appear after this citation, the censure shall be pronounced in his absence.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, pp. 181-182), on RoD, IV-1:
Chapter IV. Of Church Censures.
The first paragraph classifies the censures that may be inflicted, and the remaining paragraphs define each sort of censure.
156.--I. The censures which may be inflicted by church courts are admonition, suspension, excommunication, and deposition. When a lower censure fails to reclaim the delinquent, it may become the duty of the court to proceed to the infliction of a higher censure.
When such becomes its duty, the court must determine in each case, having regard to the principle that no censure is to be administered except upon conviction by process, or upon acknowledgment of guilt.

OVERTURES:
1989 [M17GA, 17-6, Item 6, p. 47]
Item 6. That BCO 30-1, 30-2, and 30-3 be replaced with the following:
30-1. The censures which may be inflicted by church courts are admonition, suspension from the sealing ordinances, and excommunication. For officers additional censures are suspension from and deposition from office. When a lower censure fails to reclaim the delinquent, it may become the duty of the court to proceed to the infliction of a higher censure.
Adopted. [the Presbyteries having previously voted 35 in favor, 3 against, with 3 votes deferred. The amendment had been presented to the 16th General Assembly (1988) as part of the Report of the Committee of Commissioners on Judicial Business, as reported under M16GA, 16-77, III, Item 17.]

1990 [M18GA, 18-8, Item 4, p. 46]

Item 4. That BCO 30-1, 30-3, 34-7, 34-8, 36-4, 36-5, 37-1, 37-2, 37-3, 37-7, and 42-6 be amended to read as follows:
30-1. Censures which may be inflicted by church courts are admonition, suspension from the sacraments, excommunication, suspension from office, and deposition from office. The censures of admonition or definite suspension from office shall be administered to an accused who, upon conviction, satisfies the court as to his repentance and makes such restitution as is appropriate. Such censure concludes the judicial process. The censures of indefinite suspension or excommunication shall be administered to an accused who, upon conviction, remains impenitent. . . . .
Adopted. [the Presbyteries having previously voted 37 in favor, 6 against]
[This amendment had come before the General Assembly in the previous year, under report from the Committee of Commissioners on Judicial Business, as noted under M17GA, 17-82, III, 15, p. 153.

CONSTITUTIONAL INQUIRY:
1986, Appendix I, Item 12, p. 333
12. From the Great Lakes Presbytery. See Recommendation 20.
"The Appellant. . . Is he divested from office or is that action of Presbytery suspended until the General Assembly's Commission has acted?"
ANSWER: "Yes, the judgment is suspended, unless the court for sufficient reasons, which are duly recorded, by separate action puts the censure into effect.
Grounds: See BCO 30-1, 30-5, 34-10, and 42-6."
1986, 14-52, Item 20, p. 126
That the answer of the Permanent Committee concerning Constitutional Inquiry #12 from the Great Lakes Presbytery, (Regarding suspension of one who has appealed to GA) - (Appendix I, I.C.12, p. 333) be ratified. Adopted.



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