31. Discipline of Non-communing Members

  1. The spiritual nurture, instruction, and training of the children of the Church are committed by God primarily to their parents who are responsible to the Church for the faithful discharge of their obligations, and it is a principal duty of the Church to promote true religion in the home.
  2. The Church should also make special provision for instructing the children in the Bible and in the church Catechisms, and to this end Sessions should establish and conduct under their authority Sunday Schools and Bible classes, and should adopt such other methods as may be found helpful. The Session shall encourage parents of the Church to guide their children in the catechising and disciplining of them in the Christian religion.
  3. The Church should maintain constant and sympathetic relations with the children, and should encourage them on coming to years of discretion[1] to make confession of the Lord Jesus Christ and to enter upon all the privileges of full church membership. Even if they are wayward they should be cherished by the Church and all diligent means used to reclaim them.
  4. Adult non-communing members[2] who receive with meekness and appreciation the oversight and instruction of the Church are entitled to special attention. Their rights and privileges under the covenant should be frequently and fully explained, and they should be warned of the sin and danger of neglecting their covenant obligations. When a non-communing member neglects the ongoing exhortation of the session to profess faith in Christ and rejects the covenantal responsibility of submission to home or church, the session may upon prior notification erase his name from the roll. This is an act of discipline without full process.
  5. All non-communing members shall be deemed under the care of the church to which their parents belong, if they live under the parental roof and are minors; otherwise, under that of the church where they reside, or with which they ordinarily worship.

  1. Isaiah 7:15-16.
  2. From Trinity Reformed Church of Bloomington’s Practice of Admitting Children to the Sacraments (adopted December 11, 2014): “In cases when disability renders a profession of faith unclear, it is the responsibility of the elders to make a determination on a case-by-case basis, praying and trusting God for guidance in this exercise of the power of the keys” (Matthew 16:19). In cases when it is impossible for a person to communicate a verbal or nonverbal profession of faith, since knowledge, assent, and trust cannot be established, admittance to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper shall not be granted. These cases may include severe autism, severe Down's syndrome, or other debilitating conditions. It is not clear that the souls who, in the providence of God, suffer these conditions are able to benefit from the grace that attends this meal. Not being able to demonstrate any capacity to remember Christ's death or to examine themselves, it is impossible to establish the faith that qualifies us for participation in the sacraments. Thus in Christian love we will trust God with His dispensation toward these children and adults, asking our heavenly Father to confer on them every saving grace.”

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