Introduction to the book of order
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Introduction to the Book of Order. Cliff Creel, Stated Clerk Presbytery of Northern New England. PCUSA Constitution. Part I: Book of Confessions Part II: Book of Order. Book of Confessions. A confession is a statement of faith.

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Introduction to the book of order

Introductionto theBook of Order

Cliff Creel, Stated Clerk

Presbytery of Northern New England


Pcusa constitution

PCUSA Constitution

  • Part I: Book of Confessions

  • Part II: Book of Order


Book of confessions

Book of Confessions

  • A confession is a statement of faith.

  • 11 Documents written over the centuries help to define and expand our faith.

  • Most confessions were written during a time of stress on the church.


The confessions

The Confessions

  • Nicene Creed

  • Apostles’ Creed

  • Scots Confession

  • Heidelberg Catechism

  • Second Helvetic Confession

  • Westminster Confession of Faith

    • Shorter Catechism

    • Larger Catechism

  • Theological Declaration of Barmen

  • Confession of 1967

  • Brief Statement of Faith


Book of order

Book of Order

  • Provides the rules for governing the church in four sections:

    • F: The Foundations of Presbyterian Polity

    • G: Form of Government

    • W: Directory for Worship

    • D: Rules of Discipline


Polity

Polity

How we govern ourselves as a church.


Synods presbyteries

Synods & Presbyteries


Pcusa hierarchy

Church Government (Councils)

General Assembly (1)

Synod (16)

Presbytery (172)

Session (about 10,000)

Civil Government

Country

State

County

City

PCUSA Hierarchy

Connectional

And

Hierarchical


General assembly ga

General Assembly (GA)

  • Highest council of PCUSA.

  • Only council that can amend the Constitution.

  • Provides staff to operate the denomination, nationally and internationally.

  • Provides national and international mission.

  • Highest Appellate Court

  • Provides resources to Synods, Presbyteries and Churches.

  • Headquartered in Louisville, KY


Synod

Synod

  • Provides appellate court for Presbytery PJC decisions.

  • Reviews Presbytery operations.

  • Provides resources to Presbyteries.

  • Performs mission activities.

  • Presbytery Partnership Groups

  • Synod of the Northeast headquartered in Syracuse, NY


Presbytery

Presbytery

  • Support & oversight of ministers.

  • Support & oversight of churches.

  • Support & oversight of candidates.

  • Performs regional mission activities.

  • Emerging Ministries.

  • Administration & Finance.

  • Exercises discipline when necessary.

  • Appellate court for sessions.


Session

Session

  • Session makes most decisions for the church.

  • Session is composed of Ruling Elders in active service.

  • Deacons and Trustees (if used) are under oversight of Session.

  • Session is moderated by a teaching elder, usually the pastor(s) of the church.

  • Session may appoint committees, commissions and task groups to assist it as needed.


Ordered ministry

Ordered Ministry

  • Ordered ministries are

    • Deacons

    • Presbyters

      • Teaching Elders (ministers)

      • Ruling Elders

  • The call to order ministry is an act of God, evidenced by movement of the Holy Spirit in the individual conscience, approval of a community of God’s people and the concurring judgment of a council of the church. (G-2.0103)


Ruling elder

Ruling Elder

  • Officer and leader of the church.

  • “Ruling” connotes “Measuring” the spiritual health of the congregation.

  • Responsible for the spiritual health of church members.

  • Responsible for the “business” of the church.

  • Ordained for life, but serve on session for a limited time.


Representative government

Representative Government

  • The Church is governed by representatives called commissioners.

    • In a church, the “commissioners” are the Ruling Elders on Session and the installed pastors.

    • For higher bodies (Presbytery, Synod, GA) the commissioners are made up of an equal number of Teaching and Ruling Elders.

  • Commissioners vote their conscience, guided by the Holy Spirit.


Officers

Officers

  • Each governing body elects officers to ensure the proper functioning of the body.

  • Officers of a church are

    • Installed Pastors

    • Elders serving on Session

    • Deacons serving on the Board of Deacons.

  • Higher level (e.g. Presbytery) officers are

    • Moderator

    • Stated Clerk

    • additional officers the governing body may create (e.g. Vice Moderator & Treasurer).


Session moderator

Session Moderator

  • Normally, the pastor, but if without pastor:

    • COM will appoint a moderator (normally a Teaching Elder member of Presbytery)

  • Provides connectionalism with Presbytery.

  • Presides over meetings of Session & Congregation.

  • Session cannot meet without a moderator.

  • Installed pastors are voting members of Session.

    • However, pastors can never vote in a congregational meeting.


Church governing roles

Church Governing Roles

  • Session

    • Makes nearly all decisions and leads the congregation.

    • Ruling Elders in active service.

  • Congregation

    • Very limited role (e.g. choice of installed pastor, elect elders & deacons, buy / sell / mortgage property).

  • Pastor

    • Discretion over content of worship.

    • Moderates Session.

    • Member of Presbytery.


Elected by session

Elected by Session

  • Clerk of Session

  • Treasurer

  • Others as defined by Session, e.g.

    • Committees

    • Pledge Administrator

    • Archivist


Congregation s role

Congregation’s Role

  • The congregation is only allowed to do a few things (G-1.0503) which include.

    • Electing ruling elders, deacons and trustees.

    • Calling installed pastors.

    • Matters relating to an existing pastoral relationship.

    • Buy, mortgage or sell real property.

    • Request presbytery to grant an exemption as permitted in the Constitution (G-2.0404).

  • A congregation may also conduct corporate business required by civil law (e.g. bylaws).


Session responsibilities g 3 02 very brief summary

Session Responsibilities G-3.02(Very Brief Summary)

  • Word of God is truly preached and heard.

  • Provide for education and spiritual nurture.

  • Regular efforts to reach out with the message of salvation.

  • Lead ministries of social healing and reconciliation in community.

  • Initiate and respond to ecumenical efforts.

  • Provide for celebration of the Lord’s Supper at least quarterly.

  • Provide for administration of Baptism as appropriate.

  • Exercise pastoral care among the congregation.

  • Lead the church in mission outreach.

    cont…


Session responsibilities cont

Session Responsibilities (cont.)

  • Responsible for church membership rolls.

  • Counsel those who have neglected responsibility of membership.

  • Provide programs of fellowship.

  • Train, examine, approve, ordain & install those elected to office by the congregation.

  • Encourage the graces of generosity and faithful stewardship.

  • Establish an annual budget and manage finances.

  • Manage church property for furtherance of its mission.

  • Direct the ministry of deacons, trustees and other organizations of the congregation.

    cont…


Session responsibilities cont1

Session Responsibilities (cont.)

  • Manage the administrative staff of the church.

  • Send commissioners to Presbytery Meetings.

  • Nominate ruling elders to serve Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly.

  • Participate as required with higher councils.

  • Warn and bear witness against error in doctrine and immorality.

  • Serve in judicial matters in accordance with the Rules of Discipline.


Worship session w 1 4004

Worship & Session (W-1.4004)

  • Session shall make provision for regular:

    • Preaching of the Word.

    • Celebration of the Sacraments.

    • Corporate Prayer.

    • Praise to God in song.


Worship session w 1 40041

Worship & Session (W-1.4004)

  • Session is responsible for:

    • Date, time and place of worship.

    • Use of flowers, candles, banners, paraments.

    • Overall program of music and other arts.

    • Those who lead worship through music, drama, dance and art.


Worship pastor w 1 4005

Worship & Pastor (W-1.4005)

  • Pastor alone is responsible for:

    • Selection of Scripture.

    • Preparation & preaching of the sermon.

    • Prayers offered on behalf and for use of the people.

    • Music to be sung.

    • Use of drama, dance and other art forms.


Home communion w 3 3616e

Home Communion (W-3.3616e)

  • Two or more ruling elders or deacons may take communion to shut-ins provided:

    • Done following worship on same day (or as soon as practical) as a direct extension of the serving to the congregation.

    • Preserve the unity of Word and Sacrament by reading of Scripture and offering of prayers.

    • Those serving have received training in the theological and pastoral foundations of this ministry and in the liturgical resources.


Decently and in order

1 Corinthians 14:40 (NRSV)

“but all things should be done decently and in order.”

Decently and in Order


Study guide

Study Guide

  • Book of Order Sections for Special Attention:

    • F-1.02

    • F-1.0401

    • F-3.02

    • G-1.01 – 1.05

    • G-2.03 – 2.04

    • G-3.01 – 3.02

    • W-4.4003

  • Resources

    • http://pnne.org/Resources/ClerksCorner.aspx

    • Book of Order

    • Book of Confessions

    • Parliamentary Pamphlet


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