by Zachary Groff | April 14, 2023
Every conscientious presbyter serving in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) should have a chunky blue binder containing the Book of Church Order (BCO) within easy reach of his desk or workspace.
Like all good binders, this one includes pockets on the insides of the front and back covers. Into those pockets, you may have lodged away some handwritten notes, a helpful flowchart or two, or even a reading plan with study guide to the Westminster Standards. This year, you will want to add a new booklet written by Pastor Jacob Gerber of Harvest Community Church (PCA) in Omaha, Nebraska: Parliamentary Procedure for Presbyters: A Beginner’s Guide.
Presbyterian Polity and the Gospel Reformation Network (GRN) have partnered to publish this helpful (and mercifully brief) guide to parliamentary procedure (i.e., Robert’s Rules of Order) within the context of the various deliberative settings of the PCA. The initial copies of this new resource will be offered exclusively as gifts for attendees of the 2023 GRN National Conference in Charlotte and the GRN’s upcoming PCAGA Luncheon in Memphis. Be sure to register for these two events today (click here for more info).
Eventually, these booklets will be more widely available to the public. In 21 short and readable pages, Pastor Gerber – who for years worked as a professional parliamentarian before entering vocational ministry – introduces parliamentary procedure, outlines the appropriate ordering of meetings, presents the steps involved in obtaining the floor (i.e., contributing to deliberation), describes the variety of motions presbyters can make (and how rightly to consider them), and explains how best to interpret the rules of deliberation and debate.
Unlike any other resource available today, this little booklet presents parliamentary procedure with PCA presbyters in mind as the intended audience. Though other resources exist for deeper investigation and more thorough mastery of the deliberative process, this booklet is uniquely clear, to the point, and pertinent to churchmen in the PCA. Whether you are new to the world of session meetings, presbyteries, and General Assembly or have been laboring faithfully over many years in Christ’s vineyard, this booklet will prove useful to you.
As Pastor Gerber writes toward the end of the booklet, “Our God is not a God of confusion, but of peace (1 Cor. 14:33), and our church courts should reflect God’s character in that regard. Toward this end, parliamentary procedure is an indispensable tool for organizing our deliberations decently and in order for the building up of the whole church (Acts 15:32; 1 Cor. 14:26, 40). My prayer is that this guide will help equip presbyters to engage more skillfully in our deliberations, for the glory of Christ, and the good of his church. May the Lord continue to build up the Presbyterian Church in America as a true branch of the visible Church of Jesus Christ!”
Zachary Groff is a PCA Teaching Elder serving as Pastor of Antioch Presbyterian Church in Woodruff, SC.