39. The Infliction of Church Censures

  1. When any member or officer of the church shall be found guilty of an offense the court shall proceed with all tenderness and shall deal with its offending brother in the spirit of meekness, the members considering themselves lest they also be tempted.
  2. Church censures and the modes of administering them should be suited to the nature of the offenses; for private offenses censure should be administered in the presence of the court alone, or in private by one or more members of the court, but in the case of public offenses, the degree of censure and mode of administering it shall be within the discretion of the court, acting in accordance with paragraphs below which deal with particular censures.
  3. The censure of admonition should be administered in private by one or more members of the court if the offense is known only to a few and is not aggravated in character. If the offense is public the admonition should be administered by the Moderator in presence of the court and may also be announced in public should the court deem it expedient.
  4. Definite suspension from Sacraments or office should be administered in the presence of the court alone, or in open session of the court, as it may deem best, and public announcement thereof shall be at the court’s discretion.
  5. Indefinite suspension from Sacraments or office should be administered after the manner prescribed for definite suspension, but with added solemnity, that it may be the means of impressing the mind of the delinquent with a proper sense of his danger, and under the blessing of God of leading him to repentance. When the court has resolved to pass this sentence, the Moderator shall address the offending brother to the following purpose:

    “Whereas, You, _______________________(here describe the person as a Minister, Ruling Elder, Deacon, or private member of the church), are convicted by sufficient proof [or, are guilty by your own confession], of the sin of ________________________________(here insert the offense), we, the ______________________ Presbytery [or church Session] , in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, do now declare you suspended from the sacraments of the Church [and from the exercise of your office], until you give satisfactory evidence of repentance.”

    To this shall be added such advice or admonition as may be judged necessary, and the whole shall be concluded with prayer to Almighty God that He would follow this act of discipline with His blessing.

  6. Excommunication shall be administered with a public announcement to the church. In administering this censure the Moderator or a member of the Session shall make a statement of the several steps which have been taken with respect to the offending brother, and of the decision to cut him off from the communion of the Church. He shall then show from Matthew 18:15-18, and I Cor. 5:1-5, the authority of the Church to cast out unworthy members, and shall explain the nature, use, and consequences of this censure. He shall then administer the censure in the following or like words:

    “Whereas, ____________________, a member of this church, has been, by sufficient proof, convicted of the sin of ___________________________, and after much admonition and prayer, obstinately refuses to hear the Church, and has manifested no evidence of repentance: Therefore, in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, we, the Session of ____________________., do pronounce him to be excluded from the sacraments, and cut off from the fellowship of the Church.”

    Prayer shall then be made that by God’s blessing this solemn action of the court may issue in the repentance and restoration of the offender, and in the establishment of all true believers. The members of the church shall be instructed in how to relate to the excommunicated member as defined by Scripture.[1]

  7. The censure of deposition shall be administered by the Moderator in the following or like words:

    “Whereas, ________________________, a Minister of this Presbytery [or a Ruling Elder or Deacon of this church], has been proved, by sufficient evidence to be guilty of the sin of ____________________________, we, the Presbytery [or church Session], of ___________________________, do adjudge him disqualified for the office of the Christian ministry [or Ruling Eldership, or Deaconship], and therefore we do hereby, in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, depose from the office of a Christian Minister [or Ruling Elder, or Deacon], the said __________________, and do prohibit him from exercising any of the functions thereof.”

    If the censure include suspension or excommunication, the Moderator shall proceed to say:

    “We do moreover, by the same authority, suspend the said ___________________, from the sacraments of the Church, until he shall exhibit satisfactory evidence of sincere repentance,” or “exclude the said ______________________, from the sacraments, and cut him off from the fellowship of the Church.”

    The sentence of deposition ought to be inflicted with solemnities similar to those already prescribed in the case of excommunication.


  1. 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; Matthew 18:17.

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