PREAMBLE

THE CONSTITUTION

The Church

Particular ChurchMembers of a Particular Church
Jurisdiction Over Members of a Particular Church
Officers of a Particular Church
Organization of a Particular Church
Government of a Particular Church
Ministers of the Word and Sacrament
Elders , Deacons
Election, Ordination, and Installation of Elders and DeaconsJudicatories of the ChurchCommittees and Commissions of Judicatories
References , Of PropertySession

Presbytery

The Authority of Presbytery Over Ministers,
Licentiates, and CandidatesReceiving Candidates, Licensing Candidates ,
    Ordination of Ministers
Recognition of Ordination, Jurisdiction over Ministers

Relations Between Ministers, Licentiates, or Candidates and ChurchesInstallation of Pastors and Associate/Assistant PastorsSynod

General Assembly

Relations Between Churches

Amendments

APPENDICES TO THE CONSTITUTIONLetter of Dismission For Church Members
Certificate of Reception for Church Members
Admission of New Churches
Selecting Pastors and Associate/Assistant Pastors
Letter of Dismission for Ministers or Probationers 
Certificate of Reception for Ministers or ProbationersDigest of General Assembly

General Assembly Office


Preamble to the Constitution

The form of church government is the structure through which the activities of government are carried out. The purpose of church government is to aid the church in performing its mission. This Constitution in drawn according to the Presbyterian form, and its purpose is that the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America may be governed in such a manner that the church will perform its mission.

Although no detailed form of church government is laid down in scripture, the connectional nature of the church is clearly affirmed. The Presbyterian form embodies the connectional nature of the church in a manner compatible with scripture. In the Old Testament, during the period of the monarchy in Israel, church government was mixed with and sometimes controlled by civil government. After the destruction of the national state of Israel and during the Babylonian captivity, the synagogue emerged as the organizational form of the covenant community. Its government was a prototype of the Presbyterian form.

Jesus and his apostles worshiped and taught in the synagogue. Paul's missionary activity in a city usually was begun in the synagogue. As the followers of Jesus came to be known as Christians, and the movement gradually separated from Judaism, its government developed along the lines of the synagogue.

The form of government inherited from the synagogue was a representative system in which a group of persons, called elders, acted for the people in matters relating to the life of the synagogue. The Greek word that is translated elder is presbuteros (presbyter). An assembly of elders is presbuterian (presbytery). Hence the name Presbyterian.

Although the first leaders among the followers of Jesus were called apostles, this term seems to have been restricted to those who had seen the risen Christ and who had been commissioned personally by him. With the death of the apostles, the term elder, already in use, became the accepted title that designated the highest church leaders.

The New Testament recognized two kinds of elders, those who are ministers of word and sacrament, and those lay persons who assist them. All elders share in the government of the church. The term bishop (episkopos), used less frequently in the New Testament seems to have been a synonym for elder.

In addition to the office of elder, the New Testament refers to a group of lay leaders called deacons. Derived from the Greek word diakonos, which means servant, this title designated those who had a special responsibility in the care of the poor and others in need.

In the government of the church elders function as a representative body. The levels of government recognized in the New Testament are that of the particular church (session), the region (presbytery), and the whole church (synod or assembly).

THE CONSTITUTION

1.0 THE CHURCH

1.1 By the covenant with Abraham and his descendants according to faith, God has established the church in the world through his Son Jesus Christ. This household of faith, the universal church, consists of all those persons in every nation and every age who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and who respond to his call to discipleship.

1.2 As the universal church cannot assemble at one time and place, it exists in the world as particular churches gathered together for worship, study, witness, and service.

2.00 PARTICULAR CHURCH

2.01 A particular church is a congregation of professing Christians, together with their baptized children, who have entered into a covenant with each other to meet together regularly to worship God and study the word of God, to join together in a common witness to the gospel, and to engage in the good works to which Christians are called; and who have adopted a certain form of government.

2.10 Members of a Particular Church

2.11 The members of a particular church who are entitled to all rights and responsibilities of the church, consist of those persons who have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, entered into the church covenant, and received the sacrament of baptism .

2.12 The session has responsibility to examine and instruct in church membership those who unite with a particular church.

2.13 Children of believers are, through the covenant, entitled to the sacrament of baptism and thereby become members of the household of faith. Such children are to receive pastoral oversight, instruction, and the care of the church, with a view that they repent of sin, personally confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and assume the full responsibilities of church membership.

2.14 Baptized persons who have not confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, even though they are adults, should continue to receive the watchful care and instruction of the church in the hope that they personally will own their faith.

2.15 Unbaptized persons who have not confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are within the pastoral concern of the church in the hope that they may be led to repentance and to faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.

2.20 Jurisdiction Over Members of a Particular Church

2.21 A church member is under the jurisdiction of the session of the particular church to which he or she belongs.

2.22 A letter of dismission from a particular church shall not be given to the church member but directed to another particular church of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America or that of another ecclesiastical body.

2.23 The session of a particular church may receive a person who has confessed faith in Jesus Christ and been a member of another church by transfer of letter. If reasonable attempts to obtain a letter fail, the particular church may receive the person on reaffirmation of faith and notify the person's former church of its action. The same procedure may be used for churches whose policy is not to grant letters of dismission.

2.24 A member dismissed by letter from a church of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/ Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America shall be under the jurisdiction of the session granting the letter until notification of reception by the session of the church to which the letter is granted or until creditable knowledge is had by the session granting the letter of reception into some church.

(Forms for Letters of Dismission and Certificates of Reception, see Constitution, Appendices 1 and 2 , respectively.)

2.25 When a church member moves beyond the bounds of the particular church to which he or she belongs and neglects to request a letter of dismission or fails to retain the status of an active member, his or her name shall be entered on the church's roll of inactive members. Record of the transaction shall be made in the minutes of the session and the member shall be informed of the action by the session.

2.26 When a person, for any reason, desires to cease to be a member of the church, the name of the person shall be removed from the membership roll providing no charges are pending against him or her or he or she is under no disciplinary action. The name shall not be removed from the membership roll, however, until an effort is made to counsel with the person.

2.30 Officers of a Particular Church

2.31 The officers of a particular church are the minister in charge, who is ordained to proclaim the gospel and administer the sacraments; the elders who are members of the session, who are elected and ordained as the representatives and leaders of the people; and the deacons who are members of the diaconate, who are elected and ordained to care for the poor and others in need.

2.40 Organization of a Particular Church

2.41 A particular church can be organized only by the authority of the presbytery. In considering the formation of a new church, the presbytery shall be involved in the planning. Upon approval of presbytery for the organization of the church any minister who is a member of presbytery may preside at the organization and perform all the duties required, except where a commission for that purpose shall have been appointed by presbytery. The new church shall not be located within three miles of an existing church of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America without the approval of presbytery.

2.42 The steps in organizing a particular church are as follows:a. Letters of transfer, or testimonials of current church membership, shall be presented by those who are members of a church. Others may be admitted to membership on reaffirmation of faith or on confession of faith in Christ, the church covenant, baptism (or confirmation of baptism) and examination as necessary.

a. Letters of transfer, or testimonials of current church membership, shall be presented by those who are members of a church. Others may be admitted to membership on reaffirmation of faith or on confession of faith in Christ, the church covenant, baptism (or confirmation of baptism) and examination as necessary.

b. These persons shall then be required to enter into covenant, by answering affirmatively the following question: Do you, in reliance upon God for strength, solemnly promise and covenant with God and each other that you will walk together as an organized church according to the government of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church / Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America; that you will support the gospel as God has prospered you; that you will maintain this church, not only with your gifts, but also with your support of its work by your efforts and prayers; that you will seek in its fellowship to glorify the name and further the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that you will work to maintain the purity and harmony of the whole body?

c. After this, the presiding minister shall say:  I now declare that you are constituted a church according to the word of God and the government of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/ Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

d. The members of the church shall proceed, with the presiding minister in charge, to determine the number of elders to be elected to constitute the session and the type of tenure to which they shall be elected and to elect elders. The ordination and installation of the elders may follow immediately or at a later date. At the option of the members, deacons may be elected, ordained, and installed at this time, at a subsequent congregational meeting, or not at all.

e. The presiding minister, or the commission appointed by the presbytery, shall be responsible for reporting on the organizational service, including a recommendation that the newly organized church be enrolled as a constituent member, at the next regular meeting of the presbytery. The report should include the date of organization, location, names of those acting on behalf of presbytery to organize the congregation, number of charter members and the list of officers elected.

(Forms for Admission of New Churches, see Constitution, Appendix 3 ).2.50 Government of a Particular Church

2.51 Responsibility for the government of a particular church belongs to the session, which is composed of the minister in charge and the elders elected by the congregation and installed as members of the session. The session thus constituted is responsible to lead the members in all those ministries which belong to the church:

a. Public worship, including praying, singing of praises, reading the scriptures, presenting tithes and offerings, preaching the word, and celebrating the sacraments:

b. Christian education, including study of the scriptures for Christian growth;

c . Activities of fellowship appropriate to the family of God;

d. Personal witness to unbelievers and to those out of fellowship with the church;

e. Visitation of the sick;

f. Pastoral care of families, especially disturbed and broken families;

g. Stewardship of time, talents, and money, and the care and use of the properties of the church;

h. Exercise of discipline.

i. Participation in the ministry of the church beyond the bounds of the local congregation;

and in such other ministries as appear needful. Leading the people in these ministries may be done by appointing them to serve with elders on various committees representing different areas of ministry; and by directing them as individuals in the life of the church.

2.52 In a particular church which is without a pastor, the elders who constitute the session are themselves responsible, within the limits of their offices, to lead the people in all the ministries that belong to the church.

2.53 A congregational meeting of the members of a particular church shall be convened for the following purposes:

a. To determine the type of tenure of office for elders and deacons;

b. To nominate, elect, or accept the resignation of elders and deacons;

c. To establish a quorum of the session or diaconate as less than a majority of the members;

d. To recall an elder or deacon whose service is no longer acceptable to the church;

e. Where state law or presbytery requires it, to authorize the sale and purchase of church property.

2.54 A congregational meeting may be convened also to provide an opportunity for communication between the session and the congregation on other matters, but without the procedure of voting.

2.55 A congregational meeting of the members of a church shall be held when authorized by the session, or at the request of 15% of the total membership of the church, or when directed by the presbytery. Notice of the meeting shall be given either by written notice to the entire membership at least one week before the meeting or by announcement on the three Sundays before the meeting, or by some other method which the session judges to be adequate notice. The minister in charge, or in a church without a pastor, a minister designated by presbytery, shall serve as moderator of the congregational meeting. The clerk of the session shall record the minutes of the meeting, which shall be approved at the next meeting of the session and made a part of its records. A quorum for a congregational meeting shall consist of those members present at the appointed time and place.

2.60 Ministers of the Word and Sacrament

2.61 The office of minister of word and sacrament is unique in the life of the church as to responsibility and usefulness. God calls persons and sets them apart for this ministry. The persons who fill this office should be sound in the faith, exemplary in conduct, and competent to perform the duties of the ministry. Persons who become ministers of the word and sacrament are due such respect as belongs to their office, but are not by virtue of their office more holy or righteous than other Christians. They share in the same vocation that belongs to all Christians to be witnesses to the gospel in word and deed. They differ from other Christians only with regard to the office to which they are called, which is their station in life.

2.62 The person who fills the office of the ministry has in the scriptures different titles, expressive of various duties:

   pastor--who has oversight of the people and feeds them with spiritual food and administers the sacraments as signs of God's grace;

   minister--who serves Christ in all those ministries to people which belong to the church;

   elder or presbyter--who shares in the leadership and government of the church;

   evangelist--who bears the glad tidings of salvation through Jesus Christ, appealing to sinners to be reconciled to God;

   prophet--who urges people and nations to heed the word of God, warning of the consequences of disobedience;

   priest--who intercedes with God through prayer on behalf of others;

   preacher--who publicly proclaims the gospel of Christ;

   teacher--who explains the scriptures emphasizing the lessons essential to Christian growth.

These titles do not confer privilege in the church nor designate different grades of office but indicate the scope of responsibilities that belong to the office of ministry.

2.63 A minister who is called to be the pastor of a particular church is responsible to:

a. lead the people in public worship;

b. pray for and with them as their mouth to God;

c. read the scriptures to the people and proclaim to them the word of God;

d. administer the sacraments;

e. bless the people from God;

f. teach the scriptures to the children, youth, and adults;

g. visit the people, especially the poor, the sick, the dying, and those with other critical needs;

h. counsel with persons in their preparation for marriage;

i. share in the personal witness of the church to unbelievers and those out of fellowship with the church;

j. counsel with people, in light of the scriptures, about their personal needs and problems;

k. counsel with disturbed and broken families;

l. and with the elders who comprise the session, lead and govern the church in all its ministries.

2.64 While the type of ministry most basic to the life of the church is that of a pastor, God has given different gifts to ministers of the word and sacrament and the church recognizes various types of ministry. Presbytery may authorize ministers to exercise their gifts not only as pastors of particular churches but as teachers of religion in various kinds of schools, editors of religious publications, chaplains to the military forces and to various types of institutions, missionaries, evangelists, counselors, administrators of church programs and institutions, directors of Christian education in particular churches, and as leaders in other fields of service directly related to the church. Presbytery shall authorize persons to perform such types of ministry through a service of worship in which the minister is commissioned to practice his or her ministry in one of these ways. In every type of ministry, the minister should seek appropriate ways to perform the duties as pastor, minister, presbyter, evangelist, prophet, priest, preacher, and teacher.

2.70 Elders

2.71 Elders are the immediate representatives of the people, elected by them to share with ministers in the government and leadership of the church. The elders who comprise the session share with the minister in charge in the pastoral oversight of the particular church.

2.72 In caring for and leading the congregation which they serve, elders shall be particularly attentive to persons who have not confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, those who are spiritually weak, and those who need to be instructed in the faith. They shall visit the people in their homes, praying with and for them, especially for the sick, those who mourn, and others in need. They should encourage the people by word and example to share in the worship, study, witness and service of the church through a faithful stewardship of their time, talents, and money. They should inform the pastor of any concerns that need his or her attention.

2.73 Persons who fill the office of elder may be male or female, young or old. Elders share in the same vocation that belongs to all Christians to be witnesses to the gospel, but the vocation of this office places an additional responsibility of leadership upon them. They should exemplify the gospel by their good character, sound faith, wisdom, maturity of judgment, discretion, conversation, knowledge of the doctrine and government of the church, and competency to perform the duties of the office.

2.74 Persons who accept the responsibilities of the office of elder should engage in such study and preparation as are appropriate to the office, and during their tenure on the session shall continue to study in order better to perform their duties.

2.80 Deacons

2.81 Deacons are elected by the people and ordained to lead the church in its care of the poor and others in need, administering the funds provided by the church for these purposes. This ministry is given to the church by Jesus Christ, who came to serve rather than to be served. Through the care of the poor and others in need, the church gives witness to the compassionate love of God shown in Jesus Christ. The deacons shall lead and coordinate activities of persons, committees, and groups in ministering to the poor, the elderly, the sick, orphans, refugees, prisoners, and others in distress. Because the work of the deacons pertains to the whole church, the deacons shall make periodic reports to the session.

2.82 In churches desiring to do so, the session may grant to the diaconate power to formulate budgets and assume other financial responsibilities.

2.83 Persons who fill the office of deacon may be male or female, young or old. Deacons shall have sound judgment, good character, compassion for those in need, availability to people, and a deep abiding faith in Jesus Christ, whose example in ministry they follow. Persons who accept the responsibility of the office of deacon shall engage in such study and preparation as are appropriate to the office, and during their tenure on the diaconate shall continue to study in order better to perform their duties.

2.84 The desirability for a diaconate is to be determined by each particular church. In churches where it is impractical to create a diaconate, the duties of the office of deacon shall be assumed by the elders. If a diaconate is created, no person shall serve simultaneously on the session and the diaconate.

2.90 Election, Ordination, and Installation of Elders and Deacons

2.91 In the organization of a particular church, the elders and deacons shall be nominated and elected by the members participating in the organization. In all other cases, it is proper and advisable for the session to nominate, or to cause to be chosen a committee of the congregation at large to nominate, to the congregation at a meeting called to elect elders and deacons, persons to fill these offices. Other nominations may be made by other members of the church, with the approval of the persons being nominated. The vote may be taken on the nominees at the meeting in which they are presented or at a subsequent congregational meeting. Unless by acclamation, the vote shall be by secret ballot, with a majority of votes cast necessary for election. When there are more nominees than positions to be filled, those receiving the highest number of votes are elected.

2.92 When persons have been elected to the office of elder or deacon, the session shall appoint a day for their ordination and/or installation. Persons previously ordained shall be installed only. On the appointed day, with the congregation assembled for worship, the session shall convene for the service of ordination. The minister in charge shall state in a concise manner the nature and responsibilities of the office of elder/deacon and describe the Christian conduct to be maintained. Having done this, the minister in charge shall propose to the candidate(s) the following questions to be answered in the affirmative:

I. Do you believe the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired word of God, the authority for faith and practice?

II. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America as containing the essential doctrines taught in the holy scriptures?

III. Do you approve of and promise to uphold the government of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America?

IV. Do you promise to promote the peace, unity, and purity of the church?

V. (To elders) In participating as an elder in the judicatories of the church, do you promise to share in a responsible way in the decisions that are made, to abide by those decisions, and to promote the welfare of the church?

VI. Do you accept the office of elder/deacon in this church, and promise faithfully to discharge all the duties thereof as God may enable You?

The installation of previously ordained elders/deacons shall consist in asking Question VI.

These questions being answered in the affirmative, the minister shall put the following question to the congregation:Do you, the members of the church, acknowledge and receive these elders/deacons, and do you promise to give them such encouragement, support, and respect as belongs to the office?This question having been answered in the affirmative, the candidates shall kneel. The members of the session shall gather around them. As the minister offers an appropriate prayer, the elders shall, by the laying on of hands, set the candidates apart to the office of elder/deacon.

Then, with all standing, the minister shall say:

I now declare that you have been regularly elected, ordained, and installed elders/deacons in this church, agreeable to the word of God and according to the government of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.Members of the session shall take the newly installed officers by the hand and say:We give you the hand of Christian fellowship to take part in this office with us.The minister shall then deliver to the newly installed officers and the congregation an appropriate charge.

2.93 Persons may be elected to the session/diaconate for an indefinite period or for definite terms on a rotation basis. In the organization of a church, one type of tenure shall be adopted for the session/diaconate. In an existing church, a change in the type of tenure shall be by actions to dissolve the session/diaconate, install the new type of tenure, and elect members to the session/diaconate according to the new type of tenure. Such actions shall be taken by the congregation in a congregational meeting. If a particular church chooses to elect elders/deacons for a definite term on a rotation basis, the term of office shall be for not less than three years, except when classes are established in the institution of the rotation plan or in cases of unexpired terms.

2.94 If members of the session/diaconate fail to attend half of the stated meetings in a given year without excuse, or if for other non-disciplinary reasons they become unacceptable to the church in the performance of their duties, the session may convene a congregational meeting to consider their removal from office by recall. Before such action is taken, however, opportunity shall be given to the persons involved to address the congregation.

2.95 When elders/deacons move to such a distance that they are unable to fulfill the duties of the office or to participate regularly in the worship, study, witness, and service of the congregation, the session may recommend to the congregation that their tenure of office be terminated. If an elder/deacon is dismissed from the church by letter, the tenure of office is terminated automatically, and this fact shall be recorded by the session in its minutes.

2.96 When elders/deacons are admitted by letter to membership in another church, they may become members of the session/diaconate in that church only by election and installation.

3.00 JUDICATORIES OF THE CHURCH

3.01 Since the government of the church should have order and be effective, it is necessary that it possess clear and reasonable form. The legislative, administrative, and judicial bodies, sometimes referred to as judicatories, are, in regular gradation, session, presbytery, synod, and the General Assembly.

3.02 The connectional nature of the church is expressed in the following governmental structure. The session exercises pastoral oversight and jurisdiction over a particular church; the presbytery over ordained ministers, sessions, and churches within a prescribed area; the synod over presbyteries, ministers, sessions, and churches within a prescribed area; and the General Assembly over synods, presbyteries, ministers, sessions, and churches.

3.03 The authority of each level of church government is limited by the stated provisions of the church's constitution. Although each judicatory exercises exclusive original jurisdiction over all the matters specifically belonging to it, the lower judicatories are subject to the review and control of the higher judicatories in regular gradation.

3.04 Every properly constituted unit of church government on any level has the right to resolve questions of doctrine and discipline properly and seriously proposed, and in general to maintain truth and righteousness, and to condemn erroneous opinions and practices which would injure the peace, purity and progress of the church.

3.05 All meetings of judicatories shall be opened and closed with prayer.

3.06 Called meetings of presbytery, synod, and the General Assembly shall be composed of the same representatives, or their alternates, who constituted the preceding stated meeting, unless the judicatory elects someone else as its representative. An elder whose tenure of office on the session has expired is not eligible to serve as a representative to a called meeting of a judicatory. A called meeting of a judicatory may be rescinded when a majority of those signing the request for the called meeting communicate in writing with the Moderator, or in the Moderator's absence or illness the Stated Clerk, their desire to rescind the call.  This request must be made in writing at least five days before the called meeting.

3.07 Other ministers [who are not members of the body], who are present in a meeting of presbytery or synod may or may not be seated by the action of the body as advisory members, which if granted gives them the privilege to speak to any matter before the body. Persons so seated shall be introduced to the presbytery or the synod by the moderator.

3.08 Minutes and all other official records of sessions, presbyteries, synods, and general assemblies are the property in perpetuity of said judicatories or their legal successors. When congregations, presbyteries, or synods are dissolved, their records are held for them by the next highest judicatory within whose bounds they were before dissolution. All minutes and other official records of existing and dissolved sessions, presbyteries, and synods, or copies thereof, are to be deposited for safe keeping in the Historical Foundation of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America. It is the responsibility of the clerk of each judicatory to make recommendation to the judicatory for the permanent safe keeping of that judicatory's records.

3.10 Committees and Commissions of Judicatories

3.11 Each judicatory may, in order to exercise its proper oversight and authority, form standing and/or ad hoc committees as it deems appropriate and elect or appoint persons to such committees. Such committees shall examine, consider, and recommend to the judicatory various measures for promoting the work of the judicatory.

3.12 Each judicatory may appoint commissions which are authorized to deliberate upon and conclude the business submitted to them, subject to the review of the judicatory. Full records of a commission's proceedings must be submitted to the appointing judicatory, and, if approved, may be entered in the minutes of that judicatory. A majority of a commission shall constitute a quorum. Commissions may be appointed for purposes such as the following:

a. Ordination of ministers, in which case the commission must contain a quorum of the presbytery, including two ministers;

b. Installation of pastors and associate/assistant pastors;

c. Organization of new churches;

d. Taking testimony in or conducting disciplinary hearings;

e. Visitation of congregations experiencing disorder;

f. Hearing appeals;

g. Investigation of any specified problem in the church.

3.20 References

3.21 Each judicatory except the highest may seek the formal advice of the judicatory immediately higher through reference. A reference is a representation, in writing, to the judicatory immediately higher, of a matter not yet decided by the lower judicatory. A judicatory which makes reference must have all the testimony and documents duly prepared and in readiness for the action or counsel of the higher judicatory. A reference shall be made by vote of the judicatory.

3.22 A reference may be appropriate in cases which involve new, difficult, or delicate matters about which the lower judicatory may be undecided or of divided opinion.

3.23 References may be made for the purpose of counsel, preparatory to a decision by the lower judicatory, in which case the reference suspends decision of the matter in the lower judicatory; or references may submit the entire case to the judgment of the higher judicatory for ultimate decision by it.

3.24 The judicatory receiving a reference is not required to give counsel or make a decision but may remit the matter to the judicatory by which it was referred.

3.25 References may in some cases be proper; yet it is generally for the good of the church that every judicatory exercise its own judgment.

3.30 Of Property

This section is declaratory of principles to which the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/ Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America and their antecedent church bodies have adhered from the inception of the presbyterian form of church government.

3.31 The provisions of church government as set forth in the Constitution, Rules of Discipline, and Rules of Order prescribing the manner in which decisions are made, reviewed, and corrected within this church are applicable to all matters pertaining to property.

3.32a The Cumberland Presbyterian Church is a connectional church and all lower judicatories of the church to-wit: synod, presbytery, and the particular churches are parts of that body and therefore all property held by or for a particular church, a presbytery, a synod, the General Assembly, or the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, whether legal title is lodged in a corporation, a trustee or trustees, or an unincorporated association, and whether the property is used in programs of the particular church or of a more inclusive judicatory or retained for the production of income, and whether or not the deed to the property so states, is held in trust nevertheless for the use and benefit of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

3.32b The Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America is a connectional church and all lower judicatories of the church to-wit: synod, presbytery, and the particular churches are parts of that body and therefore all property held by or for a particular church, a presbytery, a synod, the General Assembly, or the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, whether legal title is lodged in a corporation, a trustee or trustees, or an unincorporated association, and whether the property is used in programs of the particular church or of a more inclusive judicatory or retained for the production of income, and whether or not the deed to the property so states, is held in trust nevertheless for the use and benefit of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America.

3.33 Whenever property of, or held for, a particular church ceases to be used by the church, as a particular church of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America in accordance with this Constitution, such property shall be held, used, applied, transferred or sold as provided by the presbytery in which that particular church is located.

3.34 Whenever a particular church is formally dissolved by the presbytery, or has become extinct by reason of dispersal of its members, the abandonment of its work, or other cause, such property as it may have shall be held, used, and applied for such uses, purposes, and trusts as the presbytery in which said particular church is located may direct, limit, and appoint, or such property may be sold or disposed of as the presbytery may direct, in conformity with this Constitution.

3.35 A particular church shall not sell, nor lease its real property used for purposes of worship, nurture or ministry, without the written permission of the presbytery in which the particular church is located, transmitted through the session of the particular church.

4.0 SESSION

4.1 The session of a particular church consists of the minister in charge and elders elected by the congregation. There must be a minimum of two elders, but the actual number shall be determined by the congregation in accordance with such rules as it may establish.

4.2 In a church which has no pastor, or in the absence of the minister in charge or of the moderator appointed by presbytery, the session may meet and transact any business.

4.3 The session may be convened when two or more of its members so request. The minister in charge may convene the session at any time during or immediately following a regular service of worship and at other times by giving proper notice to session members.

4.4 A majority of the session constitutes a quorum unless the congregation has set a quorum otherwise; but any two elders, in conjunction with the minister may receive members and grant letters of dismission.

4.5 The session is charged with pastoral oversight of the particular church and has the responsibility to:

a. Call a pastor (also an associate/assistant pastor) subject to the approval of presbytery;

(Form for issuing a call to a pastor or associate/assistant pastor, see Constitution, Appendix 4 .)

b. Receive members into the church;

c. Resolve questions of doctrine and discipline in the congregation;

d. Admonish or suspend members found guilty in a disciplinary hearing, subject to appeal to presbytery;

e. Urge upon parents the importance of presenting their children for baptism;

f. Grant letters of dismission, which when given for parents shall always include the names of their baptized children;

g. Ordain and install elders and deacons when elected and require these officers to devote themselves to their responsibilities;

h. Examine the proceedings and supervise the work of the deacons;

i. Establish and give oversight to church schools, Bible classes, fellowship and other organizations within the church, with special attention being given to nurture of the children;

j. Encourage the stewardship of church members, order and supervise collections for Godly purposes, and in general, oversee the finances of the church;

k. Assemble the congregation and provide for worship when there is no minister;

l. Initiate and coordinate the best measures for promoting and extending the work of the church;

m. Elect representatives to the higher church judicatories, and require on their return a report of their diligence and the decisions of the judicatory;

n. Observe and carry out the injunctions of the higher judicatories.


4.6 The session may designate two elders, either of whom, when authorized by the presbytery, may administer the sacrament of the Lord's Supper to the congregation.

4.7 The members of the session, excluding the minister, are the trustees of the church. They shall hold title to the property of the church and shall execute all transactions required by civil law. If it seems desirable the session may elect a smaller number of persons to serve as trustees. In this instance the trustees may act only as specifically authorized by the session. The tenure of office of such trustees may be for an indefinite period or for definite terms on a rotation basis.

4.8 Each session shall keep an accurate record of its proceedings which must be submitted to presbytery, at least annually, for review. Each session shall also keep a record of congregational meetings, of marriages, of baptisms, of additions, and of the death and dismission of church members.

5.0 PRESBYTERY

5.1 A presbytery consists of the ordained ministers and the elders elected to represent the session of the churches within a prescribed area. Presbyteries may be organized on the basis of geographical boundaries or, where the prosperity and enlargement of the church would justify it, on the basis of a common language other than English. Ordinarily, a non-geographical presbytery may overlap the bounds of geographical presbyteries.

5.2 A minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America who has become a minister of a larger parish composed of denominational units, at least one of which is associated with another church; a minister of a union church; a minister for a limited time of a congregation of another church; or a professor of religion in a college or seminary of another church, may with the approval of the presbytery, accept for a period of such service, ministerial membership in another denomination or denominations. Such additional membership, in whatever manner conferred, shall not alter said minister's status as a minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/ Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America or terminate or modify any of the solemn obligations which the minister assumed by giving affirmative answer to the questions put by the presbytery at the time of ordination.

5.3 A minister of another church with whom the General Assembly has a reciprocal agreement whose ecclesiastical relations have been certified by that church, who has become the minister of a congregation or of a larger parish composed of denominational units, at least one of which is associated with this church, a minister of a union church or a minister of a church outside of the United States with whom the General Assembly has a reciprocal agreement who is serving in a ministerial capacity in this church, including employment as a professor in a college or seminary of this church, may be enrolled for the period of such service as a member of the presbytery and have temporarily the rights and privileges of such membership.

5.4 The session of every particular church shall be entitled to one or more representatives in the presbytery. In a particular church having an active membership of 1 to 300, the session shall be entitled to send one elder as its representative to presbytery; in a particular church having an active membership of 301 to 600, the session shall be entitled to send two elders as representatives to presbytery, and the basis for representation shall continue in the above proportion. Elder representatives may be required to give proper evidence of their election by the session they represent.

5.5 The presbytery, having met at the time and place appointed, may proceed to business provided a quorum of four persons (ministers and session representatives) are present, including at least one minister and one elder.

5.6   The presbytery is charged with pastoral oversight and has the responsibility to:

a. Receive, examine, dismiss, and license candidates and ordain them to the ministry.

b. Receive, dismiss, install, remove, and discipline ministers;

(Forms for Dismission and Reception of Ministers, see Constitution Appendices 5 and 6 , respectively.)

c. Approve ministers to serve as pastors and in other types of ministry;

d. Require ministers to devote themselves diligently to their sacred calling and censure and otherwise discipline the delinquent;

e. Review the records of the sessions, discipline sessions for whatever they may have done contrary to order, and take effectual care that they observe the government of the church;

f. Examine and decide appeals, protests, and referrals brought before it in an orderly manner;

g. Establish the pastoral relation and dissolve it at the request of one or both of the parties, or where the interests of religion imperatively demand it;

h. See that the injunctions of the higher judicatories are obeyed;

i. Condemn erroneous opinions which hinder the peace or purity of the church, and resolve questions of doctrine and discipline properly and seriously proposed;

j. Visit particular churches, inquire into their condition, and redress the evils that may have arisen in them;

k. Settle differences regarding church property and its use;

l. Approve the location of new churches and the relocation of existing churches;

m. Approve proposals and plans of churches considering building or rebuilding church facilities or additions;

n. Unite or divide such churches as are in a chronic state of crisis or inaction, unite or divide other churches with the consent of a majority of the members thereof, and, for cause, dissolve a church and attach its members to another congregation;

o. Form and receive new churches and concert measures for the enlargement of the church within its bounds;

p. Take special oversight of churches which do not have the services of a minister, appointing a minister to moderate the session; and, if necessary, authorize two elders designated by the session to administer the Lord's Supper to the congregation, provided that the elders shall be instructed by the committee on the ministry in the meaning of the sacrament and how it should be administered; the elders shall serve under the authority of an ordained Cumberland Presbyterian minister selected by the presbytery, and each grant of authority shall be for one year;

q. Formulate budgets and assign shares to the churches of the presbytery;

r. Institute and oversee the agencies necessary in the work of the presbytery;

s. In general, order whatever pertains to the welfare of the churches under its care;

t. Elect representatives to the higher judicatories;

u. Propose to the synod or to the General Assembly such measures as may be for the good of the church or of society in general.

5.7 The presbytery shall keep full and accurate records of its proceedings and submit them to the synod for review at its stated meeting. It shall report regularly to synod and to the General Assembly its roll, including all candidates, licentiates, ministers, session clerks, and churches. In addition, it shall report on licensures and ordinations; on reception, dismission, or death of ministers; on the union division, and formation of churches, and on such statistical and other information as may be required to describe the state of religion in its midst.

5.8 The presbytery shall meet as often as once a year on its own adjournment, and when an emergency shall require a meeting sooner than the time to which it stands adjourned, the moderator, or in case of the moderator's absence, death, or inability to act, the stated clerk shall with written concurrence or at the written request of two minister members and two session members of different churches, call a special meeting. The call shall give notice, specifying the particular business of the intended meeting, to every minister and session of every particular church on its roll, at least ten days prior to the proposed time of meeting. Nothing shall be transacted at such called meeting other than the particular business for which the presbytery was convened.

5.9 If, for any cause, the presbytery shall fail to meet according to its adjournment, it shall be the duty of the moderator, or, in case of the moderator's absence, death, or inability to act, the stated clerk, or in case of the stated clerk's absence, death, or inability to act, persons constituting the equivalent of a quorum, to call a meeting as early as practicable, at such a place as may be designated, for transaction of the regular business. For this purpose notice shall be given, as before prescribed, not less than ten days prior to the proposed time for meeting.

6.00 THE AUTHORITY OF PRESBYTERY OVER MINISTERS, LICENTIATES, AND CANDIDATES

6.10 Receiving Candidates

6.11 Every presbytery shall have a committee on the ministry or one which performs the same functions, one of which shall be to direct and nurture persons in preparation for the ministry.

6.12 To be received as a candidate for the ministry, a person must be a member in good standing of a particular church in the receiving presbytery. Persons desiring to become candidates for the ministry shall confer with the committee on the ministry prior to presenting themselves to presbytery.

6.13 Those who seek to be licensed and ordained to the ministry shall undergo a period of training and preparation in order that the office may be committed only to qualified persons. In order to form a correct judgment of the qualifications of those seeking admission to the office of the ministry, presbyteries shall receive and, following satisfactory preparation, license candidates who shall then be designated "licentiates." Such persons shall be required to give further satisfactory evidence of their qualifications for the ministry before receiving ordination.

6.14 The committee on the ministry shall examine candidates respecting personal religious experience, motives leading to the seeking of the office of the ministry and the internal call to it, and plans for education. Such prior examination by the committee shall not preclude examination by the presbytery at the time of reception. A written statement concerning the candidate from the session of his or her church shall also be heard at the time of reception, along with written or verbal testimonials from others who may desire to express themselves on behalf of the candidate.

6.15 The reception of candidates for the ministry shall be at a duly constituted meeting of presbytery. Following the examination of the candidate and the various testimonials that may be given, a member of the committee on the ministry or a person appointed for that purpose shall address the candidate as follows:The Presbytery of ______________________________ of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, having heard the testimonials on your behalf and having sustained your examination thus far, now requires you to make answer to the following questions:

I. As far as you know your heart, do you believe yourself to be called by God to the office of the Christian ministry.

II. Do you promise, in reliance upon the grace of God, to maintain a Christian character and conduct, and to be diligent and faithful in making full preparation for the ministry?

III. Do you promise to work with the presbytery through its committee on the ministry in matters that pertain to your preparation for the ministry?

IV. Do you now desire to be received by this presbytery as a candidate for the ministry in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America?

Following formal reception by the presbytery, the person presiding shall offer an appropriate prayer. Following the prayer, with the congregation standing, the person presiding shall address the candidate as follows

:In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Head of the church, I do now declare by the authority of this presbytery that you are acknowledged and received as a candidate for licensure and ordination in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America and I now direct that your name be entered on the roll of the presbytery as a candidate for the ministry.The person presiding shall then extend to the candidate the hand of Christian fellowship, saying:

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you and give you peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Proper record of the reception shall be made in the minutes of presbytery.

6.16 Presbytery may remove the name of a candidate from its roll at any time, but not without indicating the reasons therefor. A candidate may at any time request that his or her name be removed from the roll, which may be done at the next stated meeting of presbytery.

6.17 Upon being received by presbytery, a candidate who is a member of the session of his or her church may remain in that position by mutual agreement of the Committee on the Ministry and the Church Session.  The probationer, however, may not be elected to represent the church at any of the higher judicatories.

6.18 A candidate may be granted a letter of dismission to another presbytery, but the presbytery is not bound to receive the letter. The receiving presbytery may give the candidate the regular examination above stated. A candidate transferring to another presbytery must unite with a particular church in the presbytery to which he or she transfers.

6.200 Licensing Candidates

6.201 Licensure is a judgment by presbytery that a candidate for the ministry has exhibited certain qualities and abilities suitable to the office of ministry and has achieved a certain level of preparation for the ministry. This judgment shall be based on a prior examination of the candidate by the committee on the ministry as to his or her personal spiritual growth; understanding of the nature of the church and its ministry; knowledge of the scriptures, theology, and church history; oral and written use of the native language; and knowledge of any other subjects integral to this level of preparation. Vocational and psychological testing administered by professionals is advisable as part of the process of examination. The report of the committee on the ministry of its examination shall not preclude examination by the presbytery.

6.202 No candidate shall be licensed who has not completed an undergraduate degree from a college or university approved by the presbytery. Exceptions may be made only of persons possessing suitable gifts and abilities for a fruitful ministry, but who, because of reasons considered valid in the judgment of the presbytery, cannot complete an undergraduate degree. In such cases the candidate shall not be licensed until he or she has completed satisfactorily, under the direction of the committee on the ministry, a three-year program of alternate studies approved by the General Assembly.

6.203 The licensing of candidates shall be done at a duly constituted meeting of the presbytery or by a commission of the presbytery meeting at a previously designated time and place. The commission shall consist of a quorum of presbytery, but must include two ordained ministers. After a brief statement as to the meaning and significance of licensure, the person presiding shall propose the following questions to the candidate:

I. Do you believe the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired word of God, the authority for faith and practice?

II. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America as containing the essential doctrines taught in the holy scriptures?

III. Do you promise to promote the peace, unity, and purity of the church?

IV. Do you promise continued cooperation with the presbytery through its committee on the ministry as you continue preparation for ordination, and as you perform those functions of ministry which pertain to a licentiate, as set forth in the Constitution?

The questions being answered in the affirmative, the person presiding shall offer a prayer appropriate to the occasion. Following the prayer, with the congregation standing, the person presiding shall address the candidate as follows:

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Head of the church, and by the authority which he has given to the church for its edification, the presbytery now licenses you to preach the gospel and perform other functions of ministry as set forth in the Constitution. To this end may the blessing of God rest upon you and the Spirit of Christ fill your heart. Amen.

Proper record of the licensure shall be made in the minutes of presbytery.

6.204 A licentiate may preach the gospel within the bounds of presbytery or elsewhere with the approval of all presbyteries involved.

6.205 A licentiate may, with the approval of the committee on the ministry of the presbytery and of the presbytery, serve as a stated supply of one or more particular churches of the presbytery.

6.206 A licentiate may serve as stated supply in congregations of other presbyteries, but only with the approval of the committees on the ministry of both or all presbyteries involved and the approval of the presbyteries. In such cases there should be a close working relationship between the committees on the ministry of both or all presbyteries, with direct supervision of the person's ministry being given by the presbytery in which the licentiate is serving.

6.207 A licentiate who has been authorized to serve as a stated supply is nevertheless expected to continue his or her preparation for ordination.

6.208 A licentiate is not a member of presbytery or synod, and thus has no vote in these bodies; nor can a licentiate be a commissioner to the General Assembly.

6.209 A licentiate may be given a letter of dismission to another presbytery, but that presbytery is not bound to receive the letter. The receiving presbytery may give the licentiate the regular examination above stated. A licentiate must unite with a particular church in the presbytery to which he or she transfers.

6.210 A licentiate retains membership in a particular church. But inasmuch as such a person may perform certain functions of ministry only by authority of presbytery, he or she is subject to the disciplinary action of presbytery.

6.211 A presbytery may at any time drop the name of a licentiate from its roll, but not without indicating the reason therefor, nor without giving the licentiate an opportunity to be heard.

6.30 Ordination of Ministers

6.31 Ordination is the setting apart of a licentiate to the full work of the gospel ministry. Since the ordained ministry is the highest ecclesiastical office of the church, presbyteries shall be careful to ordain no one until fully satisfied with his or her qualifications for so important a work. A licentiate shall be ordained only if he or she has a call to a church or to a ministry approved by the presbytery. Presbyteries shall not feel obligated to ordain a licentiate because of long tenure as such, nor continue him or her longer than there is promise of usefulness.

6.32 Prior to ordination the licentiate shall sustain a careful and satisfactory examination by the committee on the ministry and the presbytery as a whole upon the following: experimental religion, continuing spiritual growth, the internal call to the ministry, knowledge of the scriptures, church history, systematic theology, pastoral care and counseling, church administration, the educational task of the church, preparation and delivery of sermons, the nature and meaning of public worship, and the doctrine and government of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America. As part of the above examination presbytery may require such written and spoken discourses as may be judged needful, including the planning and conducting of a presbyterial worship service with the licentiate delivering the sermon. The prior examination by the committee on the ministry shall not preclude examination by the presbytery.

6.33 In addition to the disciplines of study named above, presbytery shall encourage the licentiate as part of his or her preparation for ordination to obtain at least a working knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek languages, the usefulness of which to the understanding of the scriptures is hereby affirmed.

6.34 No licentiate shall be ordained who has not completed a degree in a graduate school of theology approved by the presbytery. Exceptions may be made only of persons possessing suitable gifts and abilities for a fruitful ministry, but who, because of reasons considered valid in the judgment of the presbytery, cannot be expected to complete the regular course of study in a graduate school of theology. In such cases a licentiate shall not be ordained until he or she has satisfactorily completed under the direction of the presbytery a two-year program of alternate studies approved by the General Assembly.

6.35 Ordination shall be by the presbytery at either a regular, an adjourned, or a called meeting; or it may be by a commission of the presbytery, which must consist of a quorum of the body and include two ordained ministers.

6.36 When a presbytery shall become satisfied with the qualifications of a licentiate, it shall announce a date and place for ordination and make preparation for the same. Following the sermon in a regular worship service at the time and place previously announced, the licentiate shall take his or her place at the front of the sanctuary. After a brief statement by the person presiding as to the purpose of the meeting and the meaning of ordination, the following questions shall be proposed to the licentiate:

I. Do you believe the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired word of God, the authority for faith and practice?

II. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of faith of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America as containing the essential doctrines taught in the holy scriptures?

III. Do you approve of and promise to uphold the government of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America?

IV. In participating as a minister in the judicatories of the church, do you promise to share in a responsible way in the decisions that are made, to abide by those decisions, and to promote the welfare of the church?

V. As far as you know your heart, have you been induced by the Holy Spirit to answer the call to the ministry from love of God and neighbor and a sincere desire to glorify God and advance his Kingdom in the world?

VI. As God may enable you, do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the gospel and the purity and peace of the church, irrespective of any opposition that may arise to you on that account?

VII. Do you promise to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a minister of the gospel, and endeavor to so conduct yourself both privately and publicly as not to give offense to Christ and his church?

The above questions being answered in the affirmative, the licentiate shall kneel. All ministers of the presbytery present, with advisory members by invitation, and all elders who are members of the presbytery, shall gather around him or her. As the person presiding, or another appointed for the purpose, offers an appropriate prayer, all the presbyters shall, by the laying on of hands, solemnly set the licentiate apart to the office of the gospel ministry.

Then, with all the presbyters reverently standing, the person presiding shall say:

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Head of the church, and by the authority of this presbytery, I now declare you duly ordained to the office of the gospel ministry, committing to you full authority to preach the word, to administer the sacraments, and to bear rule in the church.

Then the presiding minister, followed by all the presbyters, shall take the new minister by the hand, saying to him or her: We give you the hand of fellowship to take part in the ministry of the gospel with us.

After the presbyters have returned to their places, the person presiding, or some other person appointed for the purpose, shall deliver an appropriate charge to the new minister. A prayer shall then be offered in which the new minister is recommended to the grace of God for that ministry to which he or she has been set apart.

The transaction shall be duly recorded in the presbyterial minutes, the newly ordained minister's name added to the roll of ministers of the presbytery, and the church of which the minister was a member notified to drop his or her name from its roll.

6.40 Recognition of Ordination

6.41 A minister of another ecclesiastical body who desires to become a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America shall appear before the committee on the ministry of the presbytery in which he or she wishes to be received. The committee on the ministry shall investigate the following:

a. Whether the minister has proper credentials from his or her ecclesiastical body;

b. Whether the minister has a degree from a college and graduate school of theology;

c. Whether the minister has a knowledge of the history, theology, and government of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America;

d. Whether the minister seems fit for service as a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America.

6.42 The committee on the ministry, if satisfied in each of the areas described in Section 6.41 may recommend to presbytery that the minister be received as an ordained minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, upon giving affirmative answer to the questions put to licentiates at their ordination. Such procedure shall not exclude the opportunity for presbytery to examine the minister.

6.43 If the person seeking to become a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America neither has degrees from a college and a graduate school of theology nor has completed a course of study comparable to the program of alternate studies approved by the General Assembly, he or she shall be required during a probationary period to meet the educational standards for ordination. A person who does not have a college degree or has not completed the program of alternate studies shall have the status of a candidate. A person who has a college degree or has completed the program of alternate studies required of a licentiate shall have the status of a licentiate. When the educational requirements have been satisfied, the probationary period may be ended and the minister's previous ordination confirmed upon giving affirmative answer to the questions put to licentiates at their ordination. Such procedure shall not exclude the opportunity for presbytery to examine the minister.

6.50 Jurisdiction over Ministers

6.51 A letter of dismission for a minister, licentiate, or candidate shall be granted to a particular presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America or another ecclesiastical body. A minister, licentiate, or candidate shall remain under the appropriate jurisdiction of the presbytery granting the letter of dismission until proper notification of reception by the presbytery or other ecclesiastical body to which the letter was granted. No minister, licentiate, or candidate of one presbytery shall be received by another presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America without a duly certified letter of dismission from the former presbytery.

6.52 If a minister lives outside the bounds of the presbytery in which he or she desires to hold membership, he or she must receive the consent of the synod in which that presbytery is located to hold membership in that presbytery.

6.53 A minister against whom no charges are pending or who is under no disciplinary action, if fully satisfied that God has not called him or her to the ministry, or if he or she has satisfactory evidence of his or her inability to serve as a minister, or if he or she shall for any other reason desire to do so, may request that his or her ordination be revoked and that he or she be divested of the office. The committee on the ministry shall be directed to counsel with the person, if it has not already done so, and report to the next stated meeting of the presbytery. If the person remains firm in his or her request, the presbytery shall approve the request, noting that it is not a disciplinary action.

6.54 A minister whose ordination has been revoked at his or her own request or by deposition may be received as a member in a particular church on re-affirmation of faith.

6.55 A retired ordained clergy may, upon his or her retirement and request be thereafter excused from further meetings of the presbytery and synod without affecting his or her relationship to presbytery and synod.

7.00 RELATIONS BETWEEN MINISTERS, LICENTIATES, OR CANDIDATES AND CHURCHES

7.01 A person may be called to a particular church to one of four relationships: pastor, associate/assistant pastor, stated supply, or interim pastor.

7.02 The office of pastor is to be held only by an ordained minister, whom the particular church has called for an indefinite time and to whom the presbytery has entrusted the spiritual care of the church, including the office of moderator of the session.

7.03 The office of associate/assistant pastor is to be held only by an ordained minister whom the particular church has called for a definite or indefinite time to fulfill various pastoral functions as outlined by the church issuing the call, and approved by the presbytery. In the absence of the pastor, the associate pastor may, with the approval of the pastor and session, serve as moderator of the session or of a congregational meeting.

7.04 The office of stated supply may be held by an ordained minister, a licentiate, or a candidate, whom the particular church has called for an indefinite time, or, in the case of an interim supply, for a definite time, for less than full time work. An ordained minister serving as stated supply may fulfill all duties and functions pertaining to the spiritual care of the church, including moderating the session. A licentiate or a candidate serving as stated supply may fulfill the duties and functions except moderating the session, administering the sacraments, and solemnizing marriages.

7.05 The office of interim pastor is to be held by an ordained minister who is invited by the session of a church without an installed pastor. An interim pastor may preach the word, administer the sacraments, and fulfill pastoral duties for a specified period of time not to exceed twelve months, while the church is seeking a pastor. An interim pastor may not be called to be the next installed pastor or associate/assistant pastor of a church served as interim pastor.

7.06 A person shall enter into one of these relationships with a particular church only with the approval of the presbytery in the bounds of which the particular church is located. The presbytery may authorize its board of missions to act on its behalf in examining the call and to give tentative approval to a relationship between a particular church and a minister, licentiate, or candidate, subject to formal approval at a meeting of the presbytery.

7.07 The relationship between a minister, licentiate, or candidate and a particular church may be dissolved only by presbytery, acting on the request of both parties, or on the request of one party if sufficient reasons are presented, or when, in the opinion of the presbytery, the well-being of the particular church demands it.

7.10 Installation of Pastors and Associate/Assistant Pastors

7.11 Pastors and associate/assistant pastors shall be installed by presbytery or by a commission of presbytery. The service of installation shall include a sermon appropriate to the occasion, a brief explanation of the nature of the pastoral relation, and the asking of the following questions:

To the minister:I. Are you willing to assume the responsibilities as pastor (or associate/assistant pastor) of this church, according to the agreements made in your acceptance of the call?

II. Do you believe that in taking upon you these pastoral responsibilities you are influenced by a sincere desire to promote the glory of God and the good of the church?

III. Do you solemnly covenant that, in reliance upon the grace of God, you will endeavor faithfully to fulfill the responsibilities of a pastor (or associate/assistant pastor) to this church, to preach and teach the word of God, to care for the sick, the troubled, the dying, and the bereaved, and to lead this church in its witness and ministry, as God gives you wisdom and strength?When these questions have been answered in the affirmative, the following questions shall be asked:

To the elders of the session:I. As the immediate representatives of the people, are you willing to share with the minister, as your pastor (or associate/assistant pastor), in the government and leadership of the congregation?

II. The Constitution identifies the session of a particular church as the minister in charge and the elders elected by the people. The session thus constituted is charged with the pastoral oversight of the congregation. Are you, with this minister in charge, willing to share fully in the pastoral oversight of the congregation?

III. Do you covenant with this minister, as your leader and pastor, to share openly and fully with him or her about all the ministries of this particular church, praying for and with him or her, and encouraging him or her in this work with you?

To the congregation:

I. Are you willing to enter into the pastoral relation with this minister whom you have called to be your pastor (or associate/assistant pastor)?

II. Do you covenant to encourage and assist him or her in the ministry which you share with him or her in this congregation?

III. Do you covenant that through your stewardship and prayers you will continue that material and spiritual support by which he or she will be sustained in his or her ministry with you?When these questions have been answered in the affirmative, the presiding minister shall say:I now declare that ____________________ has been regularly called and installed pastor (or associate/assistant pastor) of this congregation, agreeable to the word of God and according to the government of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America. Therefore, ____________________ is entitled to all support, encouragement, and honor in the Lord. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.The presiding minister, or one appointed for the purpose, shall then deliver an appropriate charge to the pastor (or associate/assistant pastor) and to the congregation to fulfill the covenant made between them. Then, by prayer, the minister shall commend them to the grace of God and to God's holy keeping.

8.0 SYNOD

8.1 A synod consists of at least three presbyteries in a prescribed area and the ministers and the elder representatives from the churches within those presbyteries.

8.2 Representation to synod may be based on either all ministers and the elder representative/s from each church within the presbyteries with one (1) elder representative from each church for every 300 active members or a portion thereof or designated representatives from each presbytery consisting of one (1) elder and one (1) minister for every 1,000 active members or a portion thereof within the presbytery; the elders being from different churches.

8.3 The synod having met at the time and place appointed may proceed to business provided a quorum of six persons (ministers and session representatives) are present, including at least one minister and one elder, with representation from at least three presbyteries.

8.4 Members of a presbytery from which an appeal or protest is made shall not be entitled to vote on that question.

8.5 A synod has the oversight and responsibility to:

a. Examine and decide appeals, protests, and referrals regularly sent up from the presbyteries;

b. Review the records of the presbyteries, redress whatever they may have done contrary to order, take effectual care that they observe the government of the church and obey the injunctions of the higher judicatories;

c. Organize, divide, or dissolve presbyteries, when deemed expedient;

d. Appoint persons to such work as may be under synod's jurisdiction;

e. Formulate budgets and assign shares to the presbyteries;

f. In general, to order with respect to the presbyteries, sessions, and churches under its care according to the government of the church, whatever may seem to edify the church;

g. Settle differences regarding church property and its use, upon appeal;

h. Concert measures for promoting the prosperity and enlargement of the church within its bounds; and,

i. Propose to the General Assembly such measures as may be of common advantage to the entire church.

8.6 The synod shall keep full and accurate records of its proceedings, submit them to the General Assembly for review at its stated meetings, and in general, report on all important changes and the state of religion within its bounds, as well as supplying other information which may be requested by the General Assembly.

8.7 The synod shall meet as often as once every two years on its own adjournment, and when an emergency shall require a meeting sooner than the time to which it stands adjourned, the moderator, or in case of the moderator's absence, death, or inability to act, the stated clerk shall with written concurrence or at the written request of three minister members and three session members, with representation from at least three presbyteries, call a special meeting. The call shall give notice, specifying the particular business of the intended meeting, to every minister and session of every particular church on its roll, at least thirty days prior to the proposed time of meeting. Nothing shall be transacted at such a called meeting other than the particular business for which the synod was convened.

8.8 If, for any cause, the synod shall fail to meet according to its adjournment, it shall be the duty of the moderator, or, in case of the moderator's absence, death, or inability to act, the stated clerk, or, in case of the stated clerk's absence, death, or inability to act, persons constituting the equivalent of a quorum, to call a meeting as early as practical, at such place as may be designated, for the transaction of the regular business. For this purpose notice shall be given to every minister and session on its roll at least thirty days prior to the meeting.

9.0 GENERAL ASSEMBLY

9.1 The General Assembly is the highest judicatory of this church and represents in one body all the particular churches thereof. It bears the title of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America and constitutes the bond of union, peace, correspondence and mutual confidence among all its churches and judicatories.

9.2 The General Assembly shall meet as often as once every two years, at such time and place as may have been determined, and shall consist of commissioners from the presbyteries in the following proportions:

FOR CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

a. A presbytery having an active membership (including ordained clergy) of 1-1000 shall be entitled to send one minister and one elder;

b. A presbytery having an active membership (including ordained clergy) of 1001-2000 shall be entitled to send two ministers and two elders;

c. The basis for representation shall continue in the above proportions.

FOR CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN AMERICA

a. A presbytery having an active church membership of 1-200 shall be entitled to send one minister and one elder;

b. A presbytery having an active church membership of 201-400 shall be entitled to send two ministers and two elders;

c. A presbytery having an active church membership of 401-1000 shall be entitled to send three ministers and three elders;

d. A presbytery having an active church membership of 1001-above shall be entitled to send four ministers and four elders.

An elder must be serving as a member of a session at the time of the meeting of the General Assembly in order to be eligible to serve as a commissioner.

When an emergency shall require a meeting sooner than the time to which it stands adjourned, the Moderator, or in case of the Moderator's absence, death, or inability to act, the Stated Clerk shall with the written concurrence or at the written request of twenty commissioners, ten of whom shall be ministers and ten elders, representing at least five presbyteries, call a special meeting. The call shall give notice in writing at least sixty days prior to the proposed meeting, specifying the particular business of the intended meeting, to the stated clerks of all presbyteries, and to all commissioners and their alternates. Nothing shall be transacted at such a called meeting other than the particular business for which the General Assembly was convened.

9.3 Any twenty or more commissioners, of whom at least ten are ministers, and ten elders, being met on the day and at the place appointed shall be a quorum for the transaction of business.

9.4 The General Assembly has oversight and responsibility to:

a. Receive and decide all appeals, protests, and referrals regularly brought before it from the lower judicatories;

b. Bear testimony against error in doctrine and immorality in practice, injuriously affecting the church;

c. Decide in all controversies respecting doctrine, discipline, church property, and interpretation of the Constitution;

d. Institute and oversee the agencies necessary in its work;

e. Give its counsel and instruction in conformity with the government of the church in all cases submitted to it;

f. Review the records of the synods;

g. Take care that the lower judicatories observe the government of the church and redress what they may have done contrary to order;

h. Formulate budgets and assign shares to the presbyteries;

i. Concert measures for promoting the prosperity and enlargement of the church and create, divide, or dissolve synods;

j. Appoint persons to such labors as are under its jurisdiction;

k. Resolve schismatic contentions and disputations, according to the government and discipline of the church;

l. Receive under its jurisdiction other ecclesiastical bodies whose organization conforms to the doctrine and order of this church, and authorize synods and presbyteries to exercise similar power in receiving bodies suited to become constituents of those judicatories and lying within their geographical bounds, respectively;

m. Oversee the affairs of the whole church;

n. Correspond with other churches; and,

o. In general, recommend measures for the promotion of love, truth, and holiness throughout all the churches under its care.

9.5 If, for any cause the General Assembly shall fail to meet at the time and place to which it stands adjourned, it shall be the duty of the moderator, or, in case of the moderator's absence, death, or inability to act, the stated clerk, to call a meeting as early as practical, at such place as may be designated, for the transaction of the regular business. For this purpose notice shall be sent to the stated clerks of the presbyteries not less than sixty days prior to the meeting. In case of the absence, death, or inability to act of both the moderator and stated clerk, such meeting may, in like manner, be called by five commissioners, from any five of the presbyteries.

10.0 RELATIONS BETWEEN CHURCHES

10.1 The General Assembly, a synod, or a presbytery may cooperate with the General Assembly, a synod, a presbytery or a comparable judicatory of another ecclesiastical body or bodies, and a presbytery may authorize one or more of its constituent churches or agencies to cooperate with a church, churches, or agencies of another ecclesiastical body or bodies in undertaking and conducting a program. This may be done through informal arrangement or through formal structure, including incorporation.

10.2 When a particular church of another ecclesiastical body, whose constitution contains provisions similar to these, requests that it be received by a presbytery of this church, the presbytery shall not receive the particular church from the other ecclesiastical body unless:

a. That particular church has been regularly dismissed by the presbytery or comparable judicatory of jurisdiction and any timely complaint to such action of dismissal has been finally determined; and

b. Both the receiving and dismissing presbytery have sought the advice of the appropriate agency of the highest judicatory of their church dealing with relations between ecclesiastical bodies.

When a particular church has been properly dismissed and received under the above provisions, no financial consideration shall be required of the receiving presbytery except that if the property is encumbered by mortgage, or other encumbrance, the receiving presbytery shall assume and agree to pay all obligations of such encumbrance.

10.3 When a particular church of another ecclesiastical body with dissimilar constitutional provisions to these, or an independent congregation, requests that it be received by a presbytery of this church, the presbytery shall not receive the particular church unless:
            (a)    That particular church has been regularly dismissed by a comparable judicatory, or is certified by congregational vote to be free to pursue a relationship with this church because it is self-determining, and there are no pending ecclesiastical or civil complaints against the congregation, and
            (b)    The presbytery has investigated to assure that the congregation comes on good faith and desires to embrace Cumberland Presbyterian doctrine, polity, and practice, and will undergo mentoring, clergy and lay, for a provisional period of not less than two years.
    During the provisional period, the congregation shall, under supervision of presbytery, operate as a Cumberland Presbyterian Church in all respects, and shall have official representation at presbytery.  Members of the congregation will be eligible to serve on judicatory boards and as General Assembly Commissioners upon completion of the provisional period.  If at any time during the provisional period either presbytery or the congregation is dissatisfied with the progress toward assimilation as a Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the relationship shall be dissolved thirty days after formal vote by the presbytery and/or congregation to that effect, with written notice of that intent to presbytery and the congregation.

10.4 A presbytery may authorize one or more of its constituent churches to form a federated or union church with a church or churches of another ecclesiastical body or bodies or may organize a federated or union church acting in concert with a comparable judicatory of another ecclesiastical body or bodies. This shall be done by agreement in writing between the presbytery and the comparable judicatory of the other ecclesiastical body or bodies.

10.5 A presbytery or synod of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America and a presbytery or synod of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, whose boundaries coincide or can be made to coincide, may form a union presbytery or synod which shall be related in the same way to both denominations.

11.0 AMENDMENTS

11.1 Amendments to the Confession of Faith , Catechism, Constitution , Rules of Discipline , Directory for Worship , and Rules of Order may be proposed to the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church or the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America. If received favorably by either General Assembly, all proposed amendments shall be referred to a Joint Committee on Amendments composed of the five members of the Permanent Committee on Judiciary of each General Assembly for preparation for the two assemblies for action.

11.2 When a proposed amendment to the Confession of Faith, Catechism, Constitution, or Rules of Discipline is presented by the Joint Committee on Amendments to the General Assembly of each church, on recommendation of each assembly the amendment may be transmitted to its presbyteries by three-fourths vote of the members thereof voting thereon, provided there is present and voting not less than 75% of the full membership of the assembly based on the complete representation of all its presbyteries.

11.3 An amendment to the Confession of Faith, Catechism, or Rules of Discipline shall have been adopted when, on its transmission by both assemblies to their presbyteries, a three-fourths majority of the presbyteries of each General Assembly shall have approved it and such approval is declared by each General Assembly to have been given. The vote of a presbytery shall be by simple majority.

11.4 An amendment to the Constitution shall have been adopted:

a. For both churches, when a three-fourths majority of the presbyteries of each General Assembly shall have approved it and such approval is declared by each General Assembly to have been given; each presbytery voting by simply majority, and,

b. For either church when a three-fourths majority of its presbyteries shall have approved it and such approval is declared by its General Assembly to have been given; each presbytery voting by simple majority. In such instances the amendment shall be identified as applicable to the Constitution of the church adopting it, and the original section to which the amendment was applied shall remain a part of the Constitution of the church rejecting it.

c. Presbyteries shall act upon an amendment referred by the General Assembly within the first year of the referral and report their vote no later than the next meeting of the General Assembly after the amendment was transmitted to the presbyteries.

11.5 An amendment to the Directory for Worship or the Rules of Order shall have been adopted when a two-thirds majority of the entire number of commissioners enrolled at each General Assembly shall have approved it, provided such amendment shall not conflict in letter or spirit with the Confession of Faith or Constitution .

APPENDICES TO THE CONSTITUTION

APPENDIX I

LETTER OF DISMISSION FOR CHURCH MEMBERS

(To be forwarded by the clerk of the session of the dismissing congregation to the proper official of the receiving church. Husband and wife should be issued individual letters.)

This certifies that ______________, a member in good standing of the ______________congregation of _______________Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, is hereby dismissed at his/her own request to the ___________ congregation of the __________________ Church. The following are the names of his/her baptized children:______________________________. The above named person is an elder__ , deacon__, in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America.

Given by order of the session of the _________________congregation of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, this the _______ day of __________ AD _______________.

Signed__________________________________________________
                (Moderator or Clerk of Session)

Address_________________________________________________.

APPENDIX 2

CERTIFICATE OF RECEPTION FOR CHURCH MEMBERS

(The pastor of the receiving congregation should complete this form, detach, and mail to the moderator or clerk of the session granting the letter.)

This certifies that ______________, a member in good standing of the _________________ congregation of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, upon presentation of a letter of dismission from the above named congregation, bearing the date _______________, 19_____, was received by the ________________congregation of the ______________ Church on ________________, 19____. Signed_________________ (Pastor).

A permanent record of the dismissal should be kept by the clerk and should include the following:

Session Clerk's Record

Name of Member______________ Address______________________

Dismissed to:

Name of congregation______________________________________

Name of denomination_____________________________________

Letter of Dismission sent to: Name____________________________

Address_______________________Date sent_____________________ Certificate of Reception returned: Date received__________________

Note: If Certificate of Reception is not returned in six months inquiry should be made.

APPENDIX 3

ADMISSION OF NEW CHURCHES

When a new church is organized, the session shall apply for the new church's admission into the presbytery in whose bounds it is located. The following form may be used:

TO THE PRESBYTERY OF _________________________________

The undersigned respectfully declare that on the _______________ day of ________________, AD __________, a new church was organized at ________________________________ by the Reverend _____________________________ ( or a commission of presbytery), which adopted the principles of the government of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, and has a membership of _________. The following persons were elected as elders:____________________, _____________________, ____________________. The following persons were elected as deacons:________________, _______________, ________________.

We apply to be received under your care, and promise as the session to comply with all the duties and obligations enjoined upon particular churches and their officers by the government of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/ Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America.

____________________________

____________________________

____________________________

Date_______ Elders

APPENDIX 4

SELECTING PASTORS AND ASSOCIATE/ASSISTANT PASTORS

In calling a minister to be the pastor or associate/assistant pastor of the church, the session should endeavor to ascertain the will of the membership, and should select the minister it believes will best serve the interests of that particular church. The call should be presented to the minister as follows:

__________________________________________________Church, being satisfied of your ministerial qualifications and being confident of your ability to minister to the diverse needs of this congregation extends to you a call to serve for an indefinite period of time as pastor (or associate/assistant pastor) of this church and to join with us in a ministry to the entire community. We commit ourselves to provide the support, cooperation, and encouragement necessary to enable you to fulfill this calling. We pledge to pay an annual salary of $____________________.

The call may then detail other considerations such as vacation arrangements, sick leave, travel costs in serving the congregation, and terms regulating the termination of the contract. The call in its entirety will be subject to the approval of the presbytery.

APPENDIX 5

LETTER OF DISMISSION FOR MINISTERS OR PROBATIONERS

(To be completed and forwarded by the stated clerk of the dismissing presbytery to the stated clerk or the proper official of the receiving judicatory.)

This certifies that __________________________________________,

an ordained minister__ , licentiate__ , candidate__ , in good standing in the _______________________________ Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, is hereby at his/her own request dismissed therefrom and is recommended favorably to the _________________________ Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, or to the following judicatory of the designated church: _________________________. Given by the order of ________________ Presbytery, this ______ day of __________ A.D. __________.

Signed_______________________________________(Stated Clerk)

Address_________________________________________________

APPENDIX 6

CERTIFICATE OF RECEPTION

FOR MINISTERS OR PROBATIONERS

(The stated clerk or the proper official of the receiving judicatory must complete this form, detach, and mail to the stated clerk of the dismissing presbytery.)

This certifies that __________________________________________, an ordained minister __, licentiate__ , candidate__ , of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, upon presentation of a letter of dismission from the ______________________ Presbytery, bearing the date __________________, 19_____, was received by the ____________________ Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, or the following judicatory of the designated church: _____________ on the date ________________, 19_____.

Signed__________________(Stated Clerk or other authorized official) Address_________________________________________________

Presbyterial Clerk's Record of Dismission

Name_________________, an ordained minister__ , licentiate__ , candidate__ , was dismissed to the ___________________Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, or the following judicatory of the designated church:___________________ on the _______ day of ___________________ A. D. ______________.

Record of Reception

The above named person was received by the ______________ Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church/Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, or the following judicatory of the designated church: _________________________________________ on the _________ day of _____________________ A. D. ___________.

Record of the Reception signed by:_____________________________ (Stated Clerk or other authorized official)

Address___________________________________________________.


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