Bco 24-9

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TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
The PCA BCO 24-9 says that a Ruling Elder that has not served for a period of one year has his official relationship is dissolved by the Session, and it has to be reported to the congregation. It seems similar to the case of a regular local church member, who after not showing up for a year with no reason loses his or her membership.

It seems to make sense, as the Elder is dropped from his church (the Presbytery) in the same way that a regular local church member is dropped from the local church.

So, my question is: what happens to the Elder? I assume he would need to be ordained again if he ever wanted to join the Session. Is that right?

And, if he loses his membership in the Presbytery, does he automatically become a member of the local body? Or is he church-less until accepted into membership of the local body.

Thanks!!!
 

Logopneumatika

Puritan Board Freshman
It seems to make sense, as the Elder is dropped from his church (the Presbytery) in the same way that a regular local church member is dropped from the local church.
...
And, if he loses his membership in the Presbytery, does he automatically become a member of the local body? Or is he church-less until accepted into membership of the local body.

A point of clarification: According to the PCA BCO, Ruling Elders aren't members of Presbytery in the way that Teaching Elders are. REs maintain a membership in the local, particularized church to which they belong while TEs have their membership in the Presbytery itself. In a word, the "church" for the RE is not Presbytery but their local church. So if they were removed from the session, their church membership would not change (unless excommunicated), only their office.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Thanks!!

Now, when the BCO says

Ruling Elder that has not served for a period of one year has his official relationship is dissolved by the Session

and the congregation was properly notified, would the man have to re-ordained to become a member of the Session?

And shall I take it as a given that he can no longer be called an Elder in the mean time?
 

Logopneumatika

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm no BCO expert, but I think that the dissolution of his "official relationship" means that he is no longer an officer, i.e. that he would need to be re-ordained. And if so, then he would no longer be called an "Elder."

This is a guess as there may be some special classification for matters of this nature. Perhaps a more savvy BCO scholar could chime in and assist us both!
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
I do not believe they would be re-ordained as that would be very similar to a backslider being re-baptized when they repented.

Ordination is for life, therefore they would go through all of the other procedures, but not the ordination itself.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
I do not believe they would be re-ordained as that would be very similar to a backslider being re-baptized when they repented.

Ordination is for life, therefore they would go through all of the other procedures, but not the ordination itself.

No, that's not the case in either the PCA or OPC, and covered clearly in the BCO. A person can voluntarily resign with the Session's consent, and then later be re-ordained following the same procedure as the first time.
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
I do not believe they would be re-ordained as that would be very similar to a backslider being re-baptized when they repented.

Ordination is for life, therefore they would go through all of the other procedures, but not the ordination itself.

No, that's not the case in either the PCA or OPC, and covered clearly in the BCO. A person can voluntarily resign with the Session's consent, and then later be re-ordained following the same procedure as the first time.

24-8. When a ruling elder or deacon who has been released from his
official relation is again elected to his office in the same or another church,
he shall be installed after the above form with the omission of ordination.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Thanks, Larry! With a little more reading I could have answered my own question.

-----Added 3/6/2009 at 10:32:37 EST-----

One more, please. Should I take it that this Elder is no longer an Elder even though it's been well over a year even though it hasn't been announced to the congregation?

In other words, he's out, and the Session is at fault for ignoring/being ignorant of the BCO, or is the fact that the Session hasn't announced it a technical way of saying the guy could still go back to the Session?

Thanks for the help so far.
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
One more, please. Should I take it that this Elder is no longer an Elder even though it's been well over a year even though it hasn't been announced to the congregation?

In other words, he's out, and the Session is at fault for ignoring/being ignorant of the BCO, or is the fact that the Session hasn't announced it a technical way of saying the guy could still go back to the Session?

Thanks for the help so far.

That's a really good question. I'm not sure of the answer, but i think it would be something like this...

The Session has to take action to dissolve the relationship. If it does not, then the relationship has not been dissolved...in other words, it's dissolved by an action of the court, not by an event in and of itself.

However, if the Session dissolved the relationship and didn't report it to the congregation, i would think that the relationship would be dissolved but the Session would be derelict in its responsibility to the congregation.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Tim,

Here is a quick commentary on BCO 24-9:

First of all, the only way to be stripped of office is by deposition (discipline) or demitting (the elder asks that his ordination be removed). All other methods (voluntary resignation per BCO 24-7, Session/congregational action per BCO 24-7, or Session action per BCO 24-9) result in the elder being uninstalled, not unordained. An uninstalled elder (often mistakenly called "inactive") is merely an elder who is no longer on the Session, with a vote). He is still an elder. This can also occur, for example if Elder Smith moves to a different state and joins another PCA church. He remains an elder, but is not an elder of his new church, until elected and installed (not re-ordained), per BCO 24-8.

It is also why (generally speaking) it seems to me that BCO 24-9 would not apply in a "rotation system." Because in those cases an elder is not an active member of Session for (typically) a year. BCO 24-9 is the mechanism for dealing with an officer who is still a member of a churhc but is in reality inactive - does not come to meetings for a year or more, does not preform his duties, etc.

Note that BCO 24-9 is a Sessional action. It cannot happen de facto, or as a matter of course. There must be an action of Session, recorded in the minutes. Otherwise the man remains an officer. The congregations prerogative in such a case would be under BCO 24-7, to ask/prompt the Session to take action. The Session's continued failure to do so would be appealable (through a complaint, most likely) to Presbytery.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
It was helpful for me to see this process recently involving three church officers (two ruling elders and one deacon).

One ruling elder had taken a year off (by particular church policy) after serving two terms. He will always be an elder (Scripturally we understand the office to be perpetual). He was ordained and installed several years ago. When he went "off session" per policy, he did not lose his calling as a ruling elder. So, when he went "on session" he was installed (but not ordained again).

The other ruling elder and deacon were new. They were both ordained and installed.

Maybe we should not use the work "inactive." On top of what Fred has pointed out, the "inactive" Elders and Deacons are regularly called on for duties of assisting the session or diaconate as well.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
"Inactive" has the additional connotation of an elder who does nothing, which should never be the case.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
So then an Elder who doesn't get along with the Session can stay in that state forever? How does the one year time period play into it?

Would it be the case that this man, even though say 18 months out of Session, is really still a member of Session until the Session

There must be an action of Session, recorded in the minutes. Otherwise the man remains an officer.

does something? And it comes down to the congregation asking the Session to take action one way or the other?

So the man is a member of the Session, and the only technical "guilt" would be on the Session for doing nothing after one year, and the moral obligation is equally on the Session, Elder in question and congregation?

Thanks!
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
So then an Elder who doesn't get along with the Session can stay in that state forever? How does the one year time period play into it?

Would it be the case that this man, even though say 18 months out of Session, is really still a member of Session until the Session

Yes.

There must be an action of Session, recorded in the minutes. Otherwise the man remains an officer.
does something? And it comes down to the congregation asking the Session to take action one way or the other?

Yes.

So the man is a member of the Session, and the only technical "guilt" would be on the Session for doing nothing after one year, and the moral obligation is equally on the Session, Elder in question and congregation?

Thanks!
You have it right, as far as I read the BCO.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Bco 24

Thanks for trying, Vic, but that thread is still closed. For a background, please go to

http://www.puritanboard.com/f116/bco-24-9-a-44827/[now merged]

This is all public, BTW.

The older, experienced Elder that took a sabbatical in the church in the NorCal Presbytery of the PCA has been told by a "committee" consisting of some Elders at a neighboring PCA church that they recommended that the church holds a "vote of confidence" before he can re-join the Session.

The pastor has just resigned, and there is currently just one RE, who is young and inexperienced. I told the older Elder who I've know for almost 30 years that he needed to rejoin the Session since the church needs leadership, and I showed him the reasoning from the BCO as explained in the closed thread.

A member of the committee showed up at church, and without telling the experienced Elder he was going to do it, he let the congregation know from the pulpit that there had been complaints about him for being too strict, and recommended that the congregation hold a vote of confidence as to whether he could join the Session again. No charges had been publicly taken out against him, and it was a shock for the church. His family was all there, and were naturally humiliated.

The poor guy's been beaten up so bad and for so long that he just said he'd do what the committee recommended and let the committee organize a vote of confidence. To my mind, that would be wrong, since I can't see how that would be anything other than to reinforce the tendency in that particular Presbytery to just ignore the BCO and act how they want.

But I don't want to say anything to my friends, most of whom are still in that church, and very confused, until I'm straight in my understanding of the issue.

So, my question is (people in a position to potentially deal with this case please don't reply): is recommending a congregational vote of confidence rather than just accepting him back into the Session after the sabbatical wrong? What would the mechanics look like? What percentage of the congregation would have to vote yes or no?

It all seems so chaotic to me.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Thanks for trying, Vic, but that thread is still closed. For a background, please go to

http://www.puritanboard.com/f116/bco-24-9-a-44827/[now merged]

This is all public, BTW.

The older, experienced Elder that took a sabbatical in the church in the NorCal Presbytery of the PCA has been told by a "committee" consisting of some Elders at a neighboring PCA church that they recommended that the church holds a "vote of confidence" before he can re-join the Session.

The pastor has just resigned, and there is currently just one RE, who is young and inexperienced. I told the older Elder who I've know for almost 30 years that he needed to rejoin the Session since the church needs leadership, and I showed him the reasoning from the BCO as explained in the closed thread.

A member of the committee showed up at church, and without telling the experienced Elder he was going to do it, he let the congregation know from the pulpit that there had been complaints about him for being too strict, and recommended that the congregation hold a vote of confidence as to whether he could join the Session again. No charges had been publicly taken out against him, and it was a shock for the church. His family was all there, and were naturally humiliated.

The poor guy's been beaten up so bad and for so long that he just said he'd do what the committee recommended and let the committee organize a vote of confidence. To my mind, that would be wrong, since I can't see how that would be anything other than to reinforce the tendency in that particular Presbytery to just ignore the BCO and act how they want.

But I don't want to say anything to my friends, most of whom are still in that church, and very confused, until I'm straight in my understanding of the issue.

So, my question is (people in a position to potentially deal with this case please don't reply): is recommending a congregational vote of confidence rather than just accepting him back into the Session after the sabbatical wrong? What would the mechanics look like? What percentage of the congregation would have to vote yes or no?

It all seems so chaotic to me.

As for the situation you describe, the committee member from the other church who deigned to stand in the pulpit and divulge complaints against the ruling elder in question was out-and-out WRONG and should be required by the Presbytery to publicly repent of his action and publicly ask forgiveness from the ruling elder for his actions. That was reprehensible.

As for the situation vis-a-vis a vote of confidence, there is nothing that prohibits it, I don't think, but it cannot be binding (as a ruling elder on sabbatical is automatically, barring disciplinary action against him, to be reinstalled, I think). No percentage necessary, no nothing. I don't think the congregation has the authority to bar a session member who's gone on sabbatical. The ONLY way an elder can be barred is by disciplinary action for some offense.

Now if he was never officially uninstalled, I don't think there is any issue here - he's still a member of session, period.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
No, he was never uninstalled.

Then he is still an active RE in the congregation, and all that needs to be done is an announcement made.

However, the stage has been set for confrontation, now, by this outsider who never should have been given any access to the pulpit. That has to be addressed as well. There should be NO kowtowing to the presbytery in this matter, since they are acting out of accord with the BCO and proper pursuit of peace within the body.

An interesting wrinkle here, though, is the fact that the pastor has resigned. The church can still function as a member congregation of the PCA, independent of other presbytery oversight, only because there is still a plurality of elders in the session (but this must include the RE who is on sabbatical and has been tarred by the outsider's insinuations and bad report).

Ugh - I don't envy your friends, Tim. There could be a needless confrontation here. What your elder friend needs to do, In my humble opinion, is take the younger RE aside and discuss the matter of the BCO passage with him, and make sure he is aware that the two of them constitute the proper leadership of that congregation. A letter to the Presbytery, too, probably is in order, and a formal request for repentance and public disavowal of the prior actions of this "committee member".
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Ugh - I don't envy your friends, Tim. There could be a needless confrontation here. What your elder friend needs to do, In my humble opinion, is take the younger RE aside and discuss the matter of the BCO passage with him, and make sure he is aware that the two of them constitute the proper leadership of that congregation.

I won't happen. The leadership is all young, and none have any Reformed experience outside of NorCal. I've talked at length to two Deacons, and they just say they are confused and will let the committee decide.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Ugh - I don't envy your friends, Tim. There could be a needless confrontation here. What your elder friend needs to do, In my humble opinion, is take the younger RE aside and discuss the matter of the BCO passage with him, and make sure he is aware that the two of them constitute the proper leadership of that congregation.

I won't happen. The leadership is all young, and none have any Reformed experience outside of NorCal. I've talked at length to two Deacons, and they just say they are confused and will let the committee decide.

That's too bad. They're going to fold up under undue pressure and give oversight of the congregation over to bullies. This is grievous.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Everything was taped, I just found out.

The three points the outside Elder brought up (he is the NorCal Presbytery "personnel manager") were:

The nearest PCA church Elders thought that a vote of confidence rather than the BCO's instruction should take place because:

1: The older Elder disagreed with the church's (probably illegal) Mission statement. That can be found at this link, and pay special attention to the Deacon part:

Trinity Presbyterian Church

2: The Elder has had past conflicts with the two liberal Elders (now one, since the Pastor has left the ministry)

3: The Elder has been harsh in the past. This is true. I remember how he went over the other Elder's heads when they refused to take Session minutes.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Everything was taped, I just found out.

The three points the outside Elder brought up (he is the NorCal Presbytery "personnel manager") were:

The nearest PCA church Elders thought that a vote of confidence rather than the BCO's instruction should take place because:

1: The older Elder disagreed with the church's (probably illegal) Mission statement. That can be found at this link, and pay special attention to the Deacon part:

Trinity Presbyterian Church

2: The Elder has had past conflicts with the two liberal Elders (now one, since the Pastor has left the ministry)

3: The Elder has been harsh in the past. This is true. I remember how he went over the other Elder's heads when they refused to take Session minutes.

Do you mean their "Positions"? Yeah there are some massive problems there - I gather that's what you mean by illegality. (e.g. that women deacons, on par but unordained with the men, are not elected by the congregation but appointed by the session; women teaching doctrine classes, etc.)
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Do you mean their "Positions"? Yeah there are some massive problems there - I gather that's what you mean by illegality. (e.g. that women deacons, on par but unordained with the men, are not elected by the congregation but appointed by the session; women teaching doctrine classes, etc.)

Actually, woman may teach doctrine classes to men in the PCA. It's the idiotic reduction of the Deacon to the authoritative level of the girl who is in charge of the nursery that I am led to believe is illegal in this "Mission Statement".

I just wish that of the 100 or so people who go there, and of the 70 or so who have a very high opinion of the experienced Elder, there would be at least one who would stick their neck out to stand by the guy. But the brutal fact of the matter is that there isn't anyone, and I'm at a loss as to what to do further. I was thinking of challenging Bill Hawke, the PCA NorCal "personnel manager" who spoke to the church to a debate, but those guys don't like the light of day, and as long as the good ol' boys club running NorCal isn't taken to task by people in more than the three Presbyterian churches in that Presbytery, good people like my friend are going to continue to get publicly humiliated.

Not that I'm discouraged, since the tide, I think, has turned, with the long term Moderator of NorCal having been outed as a practicing homosexual, and those few Reformed men and women in NorCal feeling their oats. But there will still be pain in taking the Presbytery back from the opposition. And I hope those of you reading in other PCA Presbyteries learn from this. Don't let evil gain a toe hold.
 
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