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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 30 : Church Censures

Paragraph 5 : Of Deposition

30-5. Deposition is the degradation of an officer from his office, and may or may not be accompanied with the infliction of other censure.

[DIGEST: The current PCA text remains unchanged from that of the PCUS 1867 draft edition.]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
1. PCA 1973, RoD, 4-5, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 146
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, RoD, 4-5, Proposed text, p. 41
3. PCUS 1933, RoD, IV, §181
4. PCUS 1925, RoD, IV, §181
5. PCUS 1879, Rules of Discipline, IV-5

6. PCUS 1869 draft, Canons of Discipline, IV-5
7. PCUS 1867 draft, Canons of Discipline, IV-5
Deposition is the degradation of an officer from his office, and may or may not be accompanied with the infliction of other censure.

OTHER COMPARISONS:
UPCNA, 1892, Government and Discipline, Part III, IX, Article 4 - Deposition.
1. Definition.--Deposition is a sentence depriving a church officer of his office. [cf. Ezekiel 44:13; 1 Kings 2:27].
2. Deliberation and Advice Necessary.--This censure should not be inflicted but with the greatest deliberation, and for the most weighty reasons, or when lighter censures have failed. It should ordinarily be preceded by suspension. Before proceeding to it, in the case of a minister, the Presbytery should seek the advice of Synod; in the case of a ruling elder, the Session should seek the advice of Presbytery. The sentence of deposition passed on a pastor shall be publicly read to his congregation, which at the same time shall be declared vacant.

OPC Book of Discipline (2005), VI.B.4 - Deposition
[p. 110]
a. Deposition is a form of censure more severe than suspension. It consists in a solemn declaration by the trial judicatory that the offender is no longer an officer in the church.
b. When a minister is deposed from his office, the presbytery shall erase his name from the roll of the ministerial members of the presbytery and dismiss him to a particular church or enroll him as a member of the regional church without membership in a particular church.
c. Deposition of a pastor or his suspension for an indefinite time involves the dissolution of the pastoral tie. The sentence of deposition or suspension shall be read before the congregation, and the pulpit shall be declared vacant. In case of suspension for a definite period the presbytery, after giving the session an opportunity to be heard, shall decide whether the pastoral relation shall be dissolved.
d. when a minister has been deposed, the judicatory shall immediately notify all the presbyteries of the church.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, p. 184), on IV-5:
160.--V. Deposition is the degradation of an officer from his office, and may or may not be accompanied with the infliction of other censure.
Courts should be careful not to suspend indefinitely from office unless in cases in which deposition should follow if there is not repentance.

OVERTURES:
There have been no successful overtures offered in amendment to this paragraph thus far in the history of the PCA.

CONSTITUTIONAL INQUIRY:
(See also BCO 30-1, 1986, 14-52, Item 20)
1982, 10-12, C., p. 49. Reference from the Presbytery of Central Florida.
(Designated a Reference at the direction of the Sub-Committee on Judicial Business)
The Presbytery of Central Florida requests that the following overture be presented to the Tenth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America:
Whereas, BCO 36-7 declares that the censure of deposition is grounded in the judgment that an ordained person is "disqualified for the office of the Christian ministry (or Ruling Eldership, etc.);" and
Whereas, BCO 37-4 in providing for the restoration of a deposed officer allows the court to "declare you absolved from the said sentence of deposition" and to "restore you to said office"; and
Whereas, these provisions do not address the question of ordination status of the individual under consideration;
Now therefore, the Presbytery of Central Florida requests answers to the following questions:
1982, 10-75, III, Item 8, p. 99
That the General Assembly answers Reference 1 from the Presbytery of Central Florida with the following response:
Q. 1. While under the censure of deposition, what is the status of the ordination of the individual?
Answer: A person under the censure of deposition has no ordination status (BCO 30-5).
Q. 2 - In the process of restoration to office, is it necessary for the adjudicating court to:
a. Undertake the entire ordination process?
b. Simply ask the constitutional questions for ordination?
c. Simply declare the restored offender again fully qualified for the office from which he was deposed?
Answer: The court of jurisdiction, in restoring a deposed minister, should proceed with great caution in accordance with BCO 34-8 and 37-7, and in proceeding to re-ordination, the court shall as a minimum, require the reaffirmation of the ordination vows, and the laying on of hands. The man shall not be reordained until he has received a proper call.



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