Robertson's Rules Question

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by bravebee, Dec 8, 2010.

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  1. bravebee

    bravebee Puritan Board Freshman

    The session of a PCA church calls a congregational meeting for the stated purpose of making an announcement and explaining a sessional decision. After this announcement there is a motion from the floor to open the floor for discussion on the issue. There is a second. The clerk states that there can be no such discussion, citing the Book of Church Order, saying that no business may take place except that which was in the stated purpose of the meeting. The members claim that with a proper motion and second, discussion must be allowed.

    Who's right?
  2. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Perhaps this ought be posted in the Presbyterian Polity forum.

    A Pastor once wisely said the Book of Church Order is something one learns by using it.

    I could be wrong, but see only a requirement for General Assembly, and perhaps Committees and Commissions to operate by Robert's Rules. It's not clear if it is required for Sessions, but certainly impliedly can be adopted by them.

    Chapter 25 is the constitutional charter for congregational meetings.

    ---------- Post added at 09:05 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:50 AM ----------

    It would seem that if notice was for an informational meeting, it would be limited to that, and would include at least incidental comments or questions from the congregation.

    The purpose not being to discuss the merits, but informational.

    There are mechanisms by which a minority can call for a special meeting for the specific purpose of discussing, evaluating the decision though. That would, of course, require advance notice, and a specifically stated purpose with the requisite numbers mentioned in Chapter 25.
  3. Wannabee

    Wannabee Obi Wan Kenobi

    RRO is a great guide and very helpful unless/until it becomes the master.
  4. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I think an argument could be made that this was the same business, and not some other topic.

    On the other hand, the Moderator makes a decision, and then people can challenge his decision, and see who wins.

    If folks don't like how a meeting went, there are provisions in that BCO for congregants calling a meeting, stating the business, and carrying on.

    The congregational meeting isn't the place where Presbyterian church government takes place. Other than discussions, its ordinarily convened to elect, to ratify, or to reject.
  5. sastark

    sastark Puritan Board Graduate

    First, it seems that discussion of items at an informational meeting is in line with the idea of an "informational meeting". If the congregation would have attempted to make a motion to do some sort of business, then, perhaps, they could be ruled out of order. But, from the limited description you gave, it seems that the Chair was wrong.

    Also, Bruce already mentioned this, but, the Chair can be challenged on any decision. See my post here: The Ruling Elder: Robert's Rules of Order: Challenging the Chair

    Just because a chair makes a rule does not mean that is the end of the issue. I wish more people knew this.
  6. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    What was the wording in the call for the meeting?

    Officers and members should know:

    - Decisions of the moderator can always be overridden by the body.

    - Congregational meetings in Presbyterian circles are usually very limited in scope to things like election of officers.

    - It’s not necessary for the session to call a formal congregational meeting to make an announcement.

    - Sessions should tread carefully. Calling a congregational meeting gives the appearance to the members that a decision is on the agenda and motions, etc will be in order, which they always are in a formal meeting.
  7. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    It's Robert's not Robertson's

    First, we must determine the nature of the meeting. If this meeting is not deliberative in nature, then all motions are "out of order."

    Secondly, if this assembly was deliberative in nature, then the actions all deliberative assemblies are subject to the governing documents of the organization - in this case, the BCO. If what the congregation is attempting to do is contrary to the BCO, then it's out of order - end of story - doesn't matter what the moderator says.

    Thirdly, I'm no expert on Presbyterian polity, but any attempt to re-open a matter already decided by the session sounds wrong to me. Unless the session was doing something it didn't have the authority to do - but a case for that would have to be made from the church's governing documents.

    I don't know all the details, but if I had to guess, I'd say your Clerk is right.
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