12. Church Courts—In General

  1. The Church is governed by various courts, in regular gradation; which are all, nevertheless, Presbyteries, as being composed exclusively of Presbyters.
  2. These courts are church Sessions and Presbyteries.
  3. The Pastor is, for prudential reasons, Moderator of the Session. The Moderator of the Presbytery shall be chosen at each stated meeting or for a period of time up to one year; and the Moderator, or, in case of his absence, the last Moderator present, or the oldest Minister in attendance, shall open the next meeting with a sermon, unless it be highly inconvenient, and shall hold the chair until a new Moderator be chosen. Provided, however, that when the Moderator of one of the higher courts is a Ruling Elder, the preaching of the opening sermon, or any other official duty, the performance of which requires the exercise of functions pertaining only to the Teaching Elder, shall be remitted by him for execution to such Minister of the Word, being a member of the court, as he may select.

    The Moderator has all authority necessary for the preservation of order and for the proper and expeditious conduct of all business before the court, and for convening and adjourning the court according to its own ruling. In any extraordinary emergency, he may, by an appropriate form of communication, change the time or place, or both, of meetings to which the court stands adjourned, giving reasonable notice thereof.

  4. It is the duty of the Clerk, besides recording the transactions, to preserve the records carefully, and to grant extracts from them whenever properly required. Such extracts, under the hand of the Clerk, shall be evidence to any ecclesiastical court, and to every part of the Church.
  5. Every meeting of the Presbytery and Session shall be opened and closed with prayer, and in closing the final session a psalm or hymn may be sung and the benediction pronounced.
  6. The expenses of Ministers and Ruling Elders in their attendance on the courts shall be defrayed by the bodies which they respectively represent.

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