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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 32 : General Provisions Applicable to all Cases of Process

Paragraph 6 :

32-6. a. When an accused person shall refuse to obey a citation, he shall be cited a second time. This second citation shall be accompanied with a notice that if he does not appear at the time appointed (unless providentially hindered, which fact he must make known to the court) he shall be dealt with for his contumacy (cf. BCO 33-2; 34-4).
b. When an accused person shall appear and refuse to plead, or otherwise refuse to cooperate with lawful proceedings, he shall be dealt with for his contumacy (cf. BCO 33-2; 34-4).


HISTORICAL SUMMARY: Since 1973, Paragraph 6 has only been amended once, in 1999 [M27GA, 27-12, Item 5, p. 60-63]. In 1998, Overture 15 from North Georgia Presbytery came before the 26th General Assembly, seeking to clarify provisions for contumacy in BCO 32-6. [The overture had originally been drafted and proposed by the Session of The Rock Presbyterian Church in that Presbytery] The matter was referred to the Committee on Bills and Overtures, which responded with a substitute amendment and related amendments for BCO 33-2, 33-3 and 34-4. This substitution was adopted and sent down to the presbyteries for advice and consent. Then in 1999, with the presbyteries reporting their having voted in favor of these amendments by a vote of 47 to 4, the amendments were adopted into the Book of Church Order by the 27th General Assembly [M27GA, 27-12, Item 5, pp. 60-63].
Originally in 1973, the Proposed Book of Church Order had simply updated the language of PCUS 1933 and its predecessor texts, substituting "does" for the older form "do". Otherwise the Proposed text and PCA 1973 were the same as PCUS 1933 and previous editions.

ANTECEDENT TEXTS :
PCA 1973, RoD, 6-6, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 147
and
Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, RoD, 6-6, Proposed text, p. 44
When an accused person shall refuse to obey a citation, he shall be cited a second time; and this second citation shall be accompanied with a notice that if he does not appear at the time appointed (unless providentially hindered, which fact he must make known to the court), or that if he appear and refuse to plead, he shall be dealt with for his contumacy, as hereinafter provided.

1. PCUS 1933, VI-§198
2. PCUS 1925, VI-§198

3. PCUS 1879, Rules of Discipline, VI-6
When an accused person shall refuse to obey a citation, he shall be cited a second time ; and this second citation shall be accompanied with a notice that if he do not appear at the time appointed (unless providentially hindered, which fact he must make known to the court), or that if he appear and refuse to plead, he shall be dealt with for his contumacy, as hereinafter provided.


PCUS 1869 draft, Canons of Discipline, VI-6
and
PCUS 1867 draft, Canons of Discipline, VI-6
When an accused person refuses to obey a citation, he shall be cited a second time ; and this second citation shall be accompanied
with a notice that if he do not appear at the time appointed, (unless providentially hindered, which hindrance he must notify to the court,) or that if he appear and refuse to plead, he shall be dealt with for his contumacy, as hereinafter provided.

PCUSA 1858, Revised Book of Discipline (draft), Chapter IV - Actual Process, paragraph 4
When an accused person refuses to obey the citation, he shall be cited a second time, and this second citation shall be accompanied with a notice that if he do not appear at the time appointed, he shall be excluded from the communion of the Church for his contumacy until he repent, and that the testimony will be taken and the case adjudicated as if he were present; and if he should not appear, the judicatory shall appoint some person to represent him, and proceed according to the notice. The person representing him, if a member of the court, shall not be allowed to sit in judgment on the case.

PCUSA 1789, Forms of Process, I-6

When an accused person, or a witness, refuses to obey the citation, he shall be cited a second, and third time ; and if he still continue to refuse, he shall be excluded from the communion of the church, for his contumacy ; until he repent.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, p. 197-198), on Rules of Discipline, VI-6:

177.--VI. When an accused person shall refuse to obey a citation, he shall be cited a second time ; and this second citation shall be accompanied with a notice that if he do not appear at the time appointed (unless providentially hindered, which fact he must make known to the court), or that if he appear and refuse to plead, he shall be dealt with for his contumacy, as hereinafter provided.
His absence without sending in an excuse is presumptive evidence that he refuses. According to the principle here laid down, if he comes upon the first citation, but refuses to plead, the court would cite a second time, instead of then proceeding to deal with him for contumacy. (Cf. pars. 193 and 199.) The reason for this patient forbearance is, that the court of Christ may show his gentleness, and thereby save the accused, and that the course enjoined upon the court in cases of contumacy is too severe to be entered upon without necessity.

Charles Hodge, on Chapter 4, paragraph 4 of "The Revised Book of Discipline" (PCUSA, 1858), pp. 701-702.
If the accused refuse to appear after a second citation and due warning, he is to be suspended from the communion of
the church, and the case proceeded with as though he were present. The court may appoint some one to represent the
accused, which representative, if a member of the court, shall not sit in judgment on the case. The representative of the
accused party need not be a member of the court.

OVERTURES & AMENDMENTS:
1998 - Overture 15 from North Georgia Presbytery [M26GA, 26-55, III, Item 10, pp. 203-204.]
"Amend BCO 32-6 To Clarify Provisions for Contumacy"
Whereas, the honor of Christ and His church are damaged by persons who assail the rules to flout the court; and
Whereas, BCO 32-6 is vague, in that the provisions for contumacy are never clearly "hereinafter provided;" and
Whereas, the framers of the BCO intended that contumacy should be dealt with in a timely, and expeditious manner;
Therefore, be it resolved, that the session of The Rock Presbyterian Church overtures the twenty-sixth General Assembly to change the Book of Church Order 32-6 from its present reading:
"if he appear and refuse to plead he shall be dealt with for his contumacy, as hereinafter provided."
To read instead:
"if he appear and refuse to plead, or flout the court and/or otherwise reject its authority, he shall be dealt with for his contumacy immediately."

1998 - Substitute amendment from the Committee on Bills and Overtures
[M26GA, 26-55, III, Item 10, pp. 202-203:
10. That Overture 15 from North Georgia Presbytery be answered in the affirmative by the following substitute (see also Committee on Constitutional Business, p. 229)
Adopted and sent down to presbyteries for advice and consent.
That Book of Church Order 32-6, 33-2, 33-3, and 34-4 be amended as follows (current language of BCO provided on the left hand column for comparison):

Current Language BCO 32-6
Proposed Amendment
32-6 When an accused person shall refuse to obey a citation, he shall be cited a second time. This second citation shall be accompanied with a notice that if he does not appear at the time appointed (unless providentially hindered, which fact he must make known to the court), or that if he appear and refuse to plead, he shall be dealt with for his contumacy, as hereinafter provided.



32-6 a. When an accused person shall refuse to obey a citation, he shall be cited a second time. This second citation shall be accompanied with a notice that if he does not appear at the time appointed (unless providentially hindered, which fact he must make known to the court) he shall be dealt with for his contumacy (cf. BCO 33-2; 34-4).
b. When an accused person shall appear and refuse to plead, or otherwise refuse to cooperate with lawful proceedings, he shall be dealt with for his contumacy (cf. BCO 33-2; 34-4).

See the text of the other amendments, 33-2, 33-3, 34-4, under their respective sections.

Constitutional Inquiry:
PCUS, 1881—
The answer to overture No. 16 was adopted, and is as follows :
No. 16: From the Presbytery of Mecklenburg, asking,
1: Do the provisions of our book (Rules of Discipline, Chapter 6, Sec. 6, and Chapter 3, Sec. 2,) apply to the case of a member of the church who refuses to obey the citation of the Session to appear for conference concerning matters affecting the Christian character, when no formal charge has been preferred?
2. If they do not, by what means must the Session deal with resistance of its authority when it exercises the power conferred in Chapter 5, Sec. 3, Par. 5, Form of Government, and endeavors to perform the duty therein devolved on it of inquiring into the knowledge, principles and Christian conduct of the church members under its care by directing the members to appear before the Session ?
The Committee recommend the following answer :
Chapter 6, Sec. 6, Rules of Discipline, refers only to formal judicial prosecution, and requires that charges be preferred and the offender formally cited to appear before the Session for the purpose of answering the charges.
Chapter 3, Sec. 2, Rules of Discipline, refers to offences which may call for judicial prosecution, or may not, according to the nature of the case; and of this the Session is to be the judge. The authority of the Session, as defined in Chapter 5, Sec. 3, Par. 5, Form of Government, allows the Session to enquire into the "knowledge, principles and Christian conduct of the members under its care," without formal judicial process. If its authority is resisted when so exercised, the Session may then proceed to cite the offender to appear, as provided in Chap. 6, Rules of Discipline. If, after two citations, its authority is still resisted, the Session may proceed to deal with the offender for contumacy, as provided in Chapter 7, Sec. 2, Rules of Discipline.

 



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