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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 46 : Jurisdiction

Paragraph 1 :

46-1. When a church member shall remove his residence beyond the bounds of the congregation of which he is a member, so that he can no longer regularly attend its services, it shall be his duty to transfer his membership by presenting a certificate of dismission from the Session of the church of which he is a member to the church with which he wishes to unite.
When the church of which he is a member has no Session, or for other good reasons it seems impossible for the member to secure a certificate of dismission, he may be received by the Session upon other satisfactory testimonials, in which case the church of which he was a member shall be
duly notified.


[HISTORICAL SUMMARY : The current PCA text remains unchanged from that of PCUS 1925.]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS :
1. PCA 1973, RoD, 20-1, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 154
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, RoD, 20-1, Proposed text, p. 60
3. PCUS 1933, RoD, XX-§297
4. PCUS 1925, RoD, XX-§297
When a church member shall remove his residence beyond the bounds of the congregation of which he is a member, so that he can no longer regularly attend its services, it shall be his duty to transfer his membership by presenting a certificate of dismission from the Session of the church of which he is a member to the church with which he wishes to unite. When the church of which he is a member has no Session, or for other good reasons it seems impossible for the member to secure a certificate of dismission, he may be received by the Session upon other satisfactory testimonials, in which case the church of which he was a member shall be duly notified.

PCUS 1879, Rules of Discipline, XV-1
When any member shall remove from one church to another, he shall produce satisfactory testimonials of his church-membership
and dismission before he be admitted as a regular member of that congregation, unless the church Session has other satisfactory means of information.


PCUS 1869 draft, Canons of Discipline, XV-1
When any member shall remove from one congregation to another, he shall produce satisfactory testimonials of his Church-membership and dismission before he be admitted as a regular member of that congregation, unless said congregation has other satisfactory means of information.

PCUS 1867 draft, Canons of Discipline, XV-1
When any member shall remove from one congregation to another, he shall produce satisfactory testimonials of his church-membership and dismission before he be admitted as a regular member of that congregation, unless said congregation has other satisfactory means of information.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, p. 258-259), on XV-1 [§276]:

Besides what may be found on the subject before, here are gathered together the regulations for determining to what jurisdiction any member at any time belongs. The first paragraph prescribes the method of transfer of a member from one church to another, upon his own motion ; the second, the method of transferring a member or officer from one jurisdiction to another without his consent ; the third determines to which jurisdiction a member in course of transfer belongs ; the fourth orders what is to be done with disappearing members ; the fifth gives a special regulation as to the form of certificate of transfer from Presbytery to Presbytery ; and the sixth limits the force of a certificate of good standing.
276.--I. When any member shall remove from one church to another, he shall produce satisfactory testimonials of his church-membership and dismission before he be admitted as a regular member of that congregation, unless the church Session has other satisfactory means of information.
"Any member" includes non-communicating members and suspended members. These may be transferred from one church to another, but with the same status. For the meaning of remove from one church to another, see next paragraph. When the member asks for admission into the church to which he has come, he shall produce satisfactory testimonials of two things : his church-membership (and the testimonial should certify his status), and his dismission. He may be admitted without such testimonial, if the Session has other satisfactory evidence of his church-membership, and dismission ; but the Session shall not receive without evidence that the other Session has dismissed him, during the first twelve months of his change of residence, nor ever without change of residence. So much is due to the Session from whose jurisdiction the transfer would take him.
While this rule is plain as to members of this Church passing from church to church, its principles should also be observed in receiving members from other Churches: namely, there should be no disrespectful haste in acting without the concurrence of the other ecclesiastical authority ; and, where there is no change of residence, a member from another Church in correspondence with this Church, or willing to dismiss its members to this Church, should not be received without such dismission.
The disregard of this rule impairs the efficiency of discipline. And with this in view, no member under censure ought ever to be received without dismission from another church of this Church, or from a Church in correspondence with this Church, and not without imperative reasons from any church.



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