PCA Election of Officers and BCO 24-1 and 24-4

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SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
24-1. Every church shall elect persons to the offices of ruling elder and
deacon in the following manner: At such times as determined by the Session,
communicant members of the congregation may submit names to the Session,
keeping in mind that each prospective officer should be an active male member
who meets the qualifications set forth in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. After the
close of the nomination period nominees for the office of ruling elder and/or
deacon shall receive instruction in the qualifications and work of the office.
Each nominee shall then be examined in:
a. his Christian experience, especially his personal character and family
management (based on the qualifications set out in 1 Timothy 3:1-7
and Titus 1:6-9),
b. his knowledge of Bible content,
c. his knowledge of the system of doctrine, government, discipline
contained in the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America
(BCO Preface III, The Constitution Defined),
d. the duties of the office to which he has been nominated, and
e. his willingness to give assent to the questions required for ordination.
(BCO 24-6)
If there are candidates eligible for the election, the Session shall report to
the congregation those eligible, giving at least thirty (30) days prior notice of
the time and place of a congregational meeting for elections.
If one-fourth (1/4) of the persons entitled to vote shall at any time
request the Session to call a congregational meeting for the purpose of electing
additional officers, it shall be the duty of the Session to call such a meeting on
the above procedure. The number of officers to be elected shall be determined
by the congregation after hearing the Session’s recommendation.

24-4. The voters being convened, the moderator shall explain the purpose
of the meeting and then put the question:
Are you now ready to proceed to the election of additional ruling
elders (or deacons) from the slate presented?
If they declare themselves ready, the election may proceed by private
ballot without nomination. In every case a majority of all the voters present
shall be required to elect.

How is the number of officers to be elected being predetermined in 24-1 reconciled with a majority of all voters present shall be required to elect? What happens if four candidates are approved by a majority, but the congregation only wanted three new officers? Is the majority requirement a necessary but not sufficient condition?
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
The congregation determines how many it wants by the number of men who receive a majority vote.
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
Thanks, Pastor Greco. That's how I used to understand it, but "the number of officers to be elected shall be determined by the congregation after hearing the Session’s recommendation" seems like a pretty confusing way to put it, if that's the case. So the BCO doesn't allow a congregation to limit the number of new officers ahead of the vote?
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Thanks, Pastor Greco. That's how I used to understand it, but "the number of officers to be elected shall be determined by the congregation after hearing the Session’s recommendation" seems like a pretty confusing way to put it, if that's the case. So the BCO doesn't allow a congregation to limit the number of new officers ahead of the vote?

It seems the BCO is merely saying that in the end, the congregation chooses its officers, which necessarily means the number of them.

The process, reflected in 24-1 et. al. is nomination, examination, election, ordination, installation. Candidates for office often start but do not finish the process, for many reasons, part of the biblical discernment/ qualification process.

The doctrine, theology behind this is God calls and appoints the right men (and the right number) for office, for the benefit of His people, and according to His plan for that covenant community.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Thanks, Pastor Greco. That's how I used to understand it, but "the number of officers to be elected shall be determined by the congregation after hearing the Session’s recommendation" seems like a pretty confusing way to put it, if that's the case. So the BCO doesn't allow a congregation to limit the number of new officers ahead of the vote?

Scott,

This language is the result of the practice of the Session determining how many qualified men to put on a ballot. For example, if 4 men were nominated and examined and found qualified, the Session cannot only place 2 on the ballot merely for the sake of keeping the Session a certain size. The congregation must determine how many are to be elected. Here is a Constitutional Inquiry from 1988 cited in Morton Smith's commentary on the BCO:

Constitutional.Inquiry, 1988, p.176, 16-77, III, 26. Digest, I, p. 276.
That the advice of the Committee on Judicial Business regarding Constitutional
Inquiry #2 be ratified.
. Constitutional Inquiry #2: From Covenant Presbyterian Church. Palm Bay, Florida.
QUESTION Re: Election of Officers under BCO 24-1.
"If a Session finds that four nominees for office adequately meet the Biblical requirements.
may they, for the sake of limiting board size, only put two of those men
on the ballot?"
ANSWER: ''No.
1. BCO 24-1 requires that the session shall report all eligible men to the congregation.
after examination.
2. BCO 24-1 says that the congregation determines the number of elders to be
elected.
3. BCO 24-1 allows the Session to recommend the number to be elected."
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
Ah, that makes sense. Thanks, guys! Thanks for taking the time to dig up that inquiry, Pastor Greco.
 
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