Shepherding Committee

The Shepherding Committee is charged to provide, upon request, general pastoral care and advice to its churches and Teaching Elders, and, from time to time, make recommendations to Presbytery consistent with this charge, the Constitution and the orderly administration and improvement of the church.

Assistance. The committee shall provide advice and counsel to any Teaching Elder upon his request. Likewise, the committee shall provide advice and counsel to a Session upon its request. The committee shall assist Teaching Elders without call and in their case may make recommendations to Presbytery consistent with BCO 13-2 and 34-10 when appropriate.

Report of Teaching Elders Without Call and Teaching Elders Serving Out of Bounds. Each Teaching Elder without call or serving out of bounds shall report annually on his activities, opportunities for ministry, and the pursuit of his call. This report need not be lengthy, and shall be submitted in writing to the committee on a standard form at least two weeks before the November meeting of Presbytery. Reports of Teaching Elders laboring under the direct jurisdiction of the PCA (GA Agency, Committee staff, Presbytery evangelists, MTW missionaries, etc.) shall be presented to Presbytery only at the direction of Presbytery.

Dissolution of the Pastoral Relation. The committee is authorized to act as a commission of Presbytery to dissolve pastoral relations where the request is uncontested and otherwise conforms to the requirements of BCO 23-1. The committee may dissolve the pastoral relation only after communicating with the Teaching Elder, and the church Session. Provided that the Teaching Elder remains in good standing, the committee in such cases may also act as a commission to transfer the membership of the Teaching Elder to another Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America, or to another denomination with which the General Assembly has fraternal relations at the time of the transfer. At its own discretion, the committee may decline to act as such a commission and in such event shall make an appropriate report and recommendation to Presbytery regarding the dissolution and transfer.

Churches Without a Teaching Elder. The committee shall provide assistance in seeking a Teaching Elder at the request of the Session or local pulpit search committee. Whenever a pulpit becomes vacant, the committee shall be notified of the name and contact information of the chairman of the pulpit search committee. The committee shall insist that the requirements of BCO 19-1, 22-5 and 22-6 be observed.

Sessional Records. The committee shall review the records of church Sessions as follows:

a) Each church Session, prior to the Stated Meeting assigned to it by the Stated Clerk, is to deliver a copy of its unexamined court records to the committee. All efforts should be made to see that no more than one-third (1/3) of the total roll of churches in Presbytery be examined at each Stated Meeting.

b) Each church Session whose records are scheduled for examination shall mail (or otherwise deliver) a copy of their unexamined records to the Chairman of the committee no later than six weeks prior to the upcoming Stated Meeting.

c) The committee shall examine the records in accordance with BCO Chapter 40 and shall classify exceptions as notations, exceptions of form or exceptions of substance. The committee will consult the RAO guidelines on examining Presbytery minutes in defining these terms. Exceptions of substance should be limited to serious irregularities, gross errors, corrupt practices and heretical opinions.

d) Notations and exceptions of form shall normally be sent to the Clerk of Session by the Committee without being read before Presbytery or recorded in its minutes. In determining whether there is an exception of substance, the committee shall consult with the Session whose records are being reviewed. If after consultation, the committee concludes there is an exception of substance, the same shall be reported to Presbytery as recommendations to be voted upon. The Sessional Records shall be approved without exception; or with exception of form and/or substance.

e) Sessions shall advise the Presbytery by the following Stated Meeting through the committee that they have disposed of the exception of substance in one of the following manners: the Session agrees with the exception of substance, corrects its record or action if possible, and promises to try to be more careful in the future; or, the Session respectfully disagrees with the exception of substance, states its grounds and refers the exception back to the Presbytery for action. The committee will bring a recommendation regarding accepting the disposition as satisfactory.

f) The committee shall report to Presbytery regarding any Sessional Records that have not been submitted for review as scheduled.

g) The committee shall provide help for any Clerk of Session seeking guidance in preparing Sessional Records for the yearly Presbytery review.

Limitation on Jurisdiction. Notwithstanding anything set forth in this section, no provision hereof shall be construed to permit the committee to interfere with the jurisdiction of any Session or the jurisdiction of Presbytery as expressed in BCO 11-4