14. The Church Session

  1. The church Session consists of the Pastor and Associate Pastors, if there be any, and the Ruling Elders of a church. If there are three or more Ruling Elders, the Pastor and two Ruling Elders shall constitute a quorum. If there are fewer than three Ruling Elders, the Pastor and one Ruling Elder shall constitute a quorum. When a church has no Pastor, the session shall ask the Presbytery to appoint a pastor to serve as moderator of session. If there are five or more Ruling Elders, three, along with the appointed moderator, shall constitute a quorum; if there are fewer than five Ruling Elders, two, along with the appointed moderator, shall constitute a quorum; if there is only one Ruling Elder, he does not constitute a Session, but he should take spiritual oversight of the church, should represent it at Presbytery, should grant letters of dismissal, and should report to the Presbytery any matter needing the action of a Church court. However, any Session, by a majority vote of its members, may fix its own quorum, provided that it is not smaller than the quorum stated in this paragraph.
  2. The Pastor is, by virtue of his office, the Moderator of the Session. In his absence, if an emergency should arise requiring immediate action, the Session may elect one of its members to preside. In any case where such meeting is required, the pastor must be informed before the meeting is held. Should prudential reasons at any time make it advisable for a Minister other than the Pastor to preside, the Pastor may, with the concurrence of the Session, invite a Minister of the same Presbytery to perform this service.
  3. When a church is without a Pastor, the Moderator of the Session shall be either a Minister appointed for that purpose by the Presbytery, or one invited by the Session to preside on a particular occasion. When it is inconvenient to procure such a Moderator, the Session may elect one of its own members to preside. In judicial cases, the Moderator shall be a Minister of the Presbytery to which the church belongs.
  4. In churches where there are two or more Pastors, the Senior Pastor shall preside. An Associate Pastor or Assistant Pastor may substitute for the Senior Pastor as moderator of the Session at the discretion of the Senior Pastor and Session.
  5. The church Session is charged with maintaining the spiritual government of the church, for which purpose it has power to inquire into the knowledge, principles, and Christian conduct of the church members under its care; to censure those found delinquent; to see that parents do not neglect to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; to receive members into the communion of the church; to grant letters of dismissal to other churches, which, when given to parents, shall always include the names of their minor children and whether they have been baptized and whether they have been admitted to the Lord’s Table; to examine, ordain, and install Ruling Elders and Deacons on their election by the church, and to require these officers to devote themselves to their work; to examine the records of the proceedings of the Deacons; to oversee, if established, Sunday Schools and all other ministries and discipleship; to order collections for pious uses; to take the oversight of the singing in the public worship of God; to assemble the people for worship when there is no Minister; to admit persons qualified to receive the sacraments and exercise authority concerning the time, place, frequency, and elements of the sacraments; to concert the best measures for promoting the spiritual interests of the church and congregation; to observe and carry out the lawful injunctions of the higher courts; and to appoint representatives to the Presbytery, who shall, on their return, make report of their diligence.
  6. The Session shall hold stated meetings at least quarterly. Moreover, the Pastor has power to convene the Session when he may judge it requisite; and he shall always convene it when requested to do so by any two of the Ruling Elders; and when there is no Pastor, it may be convened by two Ruling Elders. The Session shall also convene when directed so to do by the Presbytery.
  7. Every Session shall keep a fair record of its proceedings, which record shall be at least once in every year submitted to the inspection of the Presbytery.
  8. Every Session shall keep a fair record of baptisms, of those admitted to the Lord’s table, of non-communing members, and of the births, marriages, deaths, and dismissions of church members and of any baptisms and marriage ceremonies presided over by the pastors of the church outside its bounds.
  9. Meetings of the Session shall be opened and closed with prayer.


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