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3. ACT PROVIDING FOR METHOD OF CHANGE OF PLACE
OF VEETING OF PRESBYTERY. Whenever from any cause it shall be necessary to change the place of the regularly appointed meeting of a l'resbytery, its stated Clerk shall, at the request of at least three-fourths of the Clerks of its Church Sessions, be authorized to secure another place of meeting, and to issue his official call for the meeting of the Presbytery accordingly. (1890, p. 15.]
4. ACT PROVIDING FOR METHOD OF CHANGE OF PLACE
OF MEETING OF SYNOD).
Whenever from any cause it shall be necessary to change the place of the regularly appointed meeting of a Synod, its Stated Clerk shall, at the request of the stated Clerks of at least three-fourths of its Presbyteries, be authorized to secure another place of meeting, and to issue his official call for the meeting of the Synod accordingly. [1884, p. 15.]
5. ACT RELATING TO THE PASTORATE OF CHURCHES
LOCATED IN Two DIFFERENT PRESBYTERIES. (1) When two churches in different Presbyteries, or Synods, are so situated as to make it apparent to the Presbyteries to which they belong that they should be united in one pastoral charge, the pastoral relation may be constituted; and both churches shall for the time being be under the care of that Presbytery of which the pastor is a member, and this Presbyterial relation shall continue only so long as they retain the same pastor. [1874, p. 82.]
(2) The Presbytery of which the minister is a member, and to the care of which, for the time being, one of the churches is to be transferred, shall constitute, with the consent and concurrence of the other Presbytery, the pastoral relation over both churches. But the Presbytery from which the church is temporarily to be removed, should first authorize the transfer of said church, and direct its Stated Clerk to give notice of the same both to the church and to the other Presbytery. [1890, p. 47.]
6. ACT REGULATING THE TIME-LIMIT OF LICENSES.
(1) Every license to preach the gospel shall expire at the end of the period of four years, unless the candidate holding the same shall, before the expiration of that time, be called to permanent labor in the work of the Church. But the Presbytery under whose care such licentiate may be, may, in its discretion, extend his license for the period of one year.
(2) The Presbyteries are enjoined to take the oversight of their licentiates and their vacant churches, bringing in the one for the supply of the other, and, through the Home Missionary Committees of the Synods to which the Presbyteries belong, to seek to introduce their candidates to the widest fields of labor, and to furnish them full opportunity of practically showing their fitness for the Christian ministry. [1872, p. 87.]
SESSIONS AND CHURCHES. 1. ACT RELATING TO THE POWER OF SESSION OVER
WORSHIP. The General Assembly takes notice that the exclusive authority of the Session over the worship of the Church, including not only the times and places of preaching the Word, but also the music and the use of the church buildings, is not sufficiently appreciated by the Church at large, and that there are frequent complaints that Trustees of congregations assume powers and authority, especially over music and the use of church buildings, which are not warranted by, but in conflict with, the Constitution of the Church.
The Assembly enjoins upon the churches loyal adherence to our Form of Government, providing that the authority of the Session over all matters of worship is paramount, and at the same time recommends that all such questions be treated by the Session with Christian tact and courtesy, in the spirit of love and forbearance, (1893, p. 90.)
2. ACT RELATING TO THE RECORDS OF CONGREGATIONAL
MEETINGS AND BOARDS OF TRUSTEES.
(1) That the rule is not discretionary, but mandatory, that Church Sessions shall order the incorporation of proceedings of congregational meetings with their own records.
(2) That it is in the power of Church Sessions to direct that the proceedings of such meetings, or of the church (whether said proceedings are reported to the Session in the form of minutes of meetings, or as Reports of Boards or Committees) shall be incorporated in the Sessional records in such a manner, and to such an extent only, as will faithfully exhibit the action taken.
This construction of the rule in question is to be understood to apply to the proceedings of Trustees in all cases in which, under the laws of the places where they exercise their functions, their action is subject to review by the Session. [1887, pp. 117, 118.)
3. ACT RELATING TO THE ORGANIZATION OF A PAR
That a particular Presbyterian church, so far as adults are concerned, is constituted and organized as such, by a number of individuals, professing to walk together as the disciples of Jesus Christ, on the principles of the Confession of Faith and Form of Government of the Presbyterian Church, and the election and ordination of one or more ruling elders, who, by the ordination service, become the spiritual rulers of the persons voluntarily submitting themselves to their authority in the Lord.
(1) This organization ought always to be made by application to the Presbytery, within the bounds of which the church to be organized is found, unless this be exceedingly inconvenient, in which case it may be done by a duly authorized missionary or a neighboring minister of the gospel. (2) At the time appointed for the purpose, after
prayer for divine direction and blessing, the presiding minister, or committee appointed by the Presbytery, should first receive from those persons to be organized into the new church, if they have been communicants in other churches, letters of dismission and recommendation; and in the next place, examine and admit to a profession of faith, such persons as may offer themselves, and may be judged suitable to be received on examination. If any of these persons admitted to a profession on examination, have not been baptized, they should in this stage of the business be made the subjects of Christian baptism.
(3) The individuals ascertained in the foregoing manner to be desirous and prepared to associate as a church of Christ, should now, by some public formal act, such as rising, joining hands, or subscribing a written statement, agree and covenant to walk together in a church relation, according to the acknowledged doctrines and order of the Presbyterian Church.
(4) The next step is to proceed to the election and ordination of ruling elders, in conformity with the directions given on this subject in the Form of Government of the Presbyterian Church.
Deacons are to be elected and ordained in like manner as in the case of ruling elders.
(5) When a church has been organized in the manner already described, report of the same should be made, as soon as practicable, to the Presbytery within whose bounds it is located. And when a missionary, or other minister of the gospel, not especially appointed to the work by a Presbytery, has, in the manner above specified, organized a church, not within the known bounds of any Presbytery, the church thus organized should as soon as practicable make known to some Presbytery, with which it may be most naturally and conveniently connected, the time and manner of its organization, and desire to be received under the care of said Presbytery.
(6) In cases in which churches are to be formed within the known boundaries of any Presbytery, it is most desirable that persons wishing to be organized as a l’resbyterian Church, should petition that I'resbytery to receive them under its care for the purpose of organizing them in due form.
(7) There may be people in destitute portions of our land, who may be disposed to associate for the purpose of forming a Presbyterian congregation, when no minister of the gospel can be obtained to aid them. The forming of associations for such a purpose, in the circumstances contemplated, should be considered not only as lawful, but highly commendable. And such associations, when formed, should, as speedily as possible, take measures for obtaining the preaching of the gospel, and for becoming organized as regular churches.
(8) Cases may also occur, in various places, in which a collection or association of people may desire the preaching of the gospel, and be willing, in whole or in part, to support it, and yet may not have suitable men among them to sustain the office of ruling elders.*
Such people may and ought to obtain a preacher of the gospel to labor among them, and occasionally to administer ordinances, under the direction of some Presbytery, till they shall find themselves in circumstances to make a proper choice of ruling elders, and to have them regularly set apart to their office. [1831, pp. 326, 327.]
4. ACT RELATING TO THE ORGANIZATION AND ENROLL
MENT OF A PARTICULAR CHURCH. (1) A particular Presbyterian church consists of a number of communicants together with their offspring, associated by the direction of Presbytery, professing to
* See Act of 1890, Sect. (1), p. 468.