6. The Organization of a Particular Church

  1. A mission church may be properly described in the same manner as the particular church is described in BCO 5.1. It is distinguished from a particular church in that it has no permanent governing body, and thus must be governed or supervised by others. However, its goal is to mature and be organized as a particular church as soon as this can be done decently and in good order.
    1. Ordinarily, mission churches are established by Presbyteries within their boundaries.
      1. Initiatives to which the Presbytery may respond in establishing a mission church include, but are not limited to, the following:
        1. The Presbytery establishes a mission church at its own initiative.
        2. The Presbytery responds to the initiative of a Session of a particular church.
        3. The Presbytery responds to the petition of an independent gathering of believers who have expressed their desire to become a congregation by submitting to the Presbytery a written request.
      2. In the event an existing non-Evangel Presbytery church is interested in coming into Evangel Presbytery, the Presbytery shall work with the church leadership to determine whether the church should come into Evangel Presbytery as a mission church or seek Presbytery approval to be received under the provisions of BCO 15.7.
      3. Should it become necessary, the Presbytery may dissolve the mission church. Church members enrolled should be cared for according to the procedures of BCO 15.9.
    2. The mission church, because of its transitional condition, requires a temporary system of government. Depending on the circumstances and at its own discretion, the Presbytery may provide for such government in one of several ways:
      1. Appoint an Evangelist as prescribed in BCO 9.6.
      2. Cooperate with the Session of a particular church in arranging a mother-daughter relationship with a mission church. The Session may then serve as the temporary governing body of the mission church.
      3. Appoint a BCO 17.1 commission to serve as a temporary Session of the mission church. When a minister of the Presbytery has been approved to serve as pastor of the mission church, he shall be included as a member of the commission and serve as its moderator. The temporary system of government shall record and submit its records to Presbytery for annual review in the same manner as Sessions of particular churches.
    3. Pastoral ministry for the mission church may be provided:
      1. by a minister of the Presbytery called by Presbytery to serve as pastor, or
      2. by stated, student, or ruling elder supply (BCO 24.5-6), or
      3. by a series of qualified preachers approved by the temporary government
    4. The temporary government shall receive members (BCO 14.5) into the mission church according to the provisions of BCO 53 so far as they may be applicable. As members of the mission church those received are communing or non-communing members of Evangel Presbytery.
      1. If there is a minister approved by Presbytery to serve the mission church as its pastor (BCO 6.1.c), each member so received shall be understood to assent to the call of that minister and to affirm the promises made to the pastor in BCO 23.10.
      2. Meetings of the members of the mission church shall be governed according to the provisions of BCO 27 so far as they may be applicable.
    5. Mission churches and their members shall have the right of judicial process to the court having oversight of their temporary governing body.
    6. Mission churches shall maintain a roll of communicant and non-communicant members, in the same manner as, but separate from, other particular churches.
    7. It is the intention of Evangel Presbytery that mission churches enjoy the same status as particular churches in relation to civil government.
  2. A new particular church can be organized only by the authority of Presbytery.
    1. The Presbytery should establish standing rules setting forth the prerequisites that qualify a mission church to begin the organization process, e.g., the minimum number of petitioners and the level of financial support to be provided by the congregation. The number of officers sufficient to constitute the quorum for a session shall be necessary to complete the organization process.
    2. The temporary government of the mission church shall oversee the steps necessary for organization.
    3. When among the members of the mission congregation to be organized there are men who appear qualified as officers, the temporary government shall examine these men and present a slate of candidates for election by the congregation.
    4. The election of officers shall normally take place at least two weeks prior to the date of the organization service. However, the effective date of service for the newly elected officers shall be upon the completion of the organization service.
    5. If deacons are not elected, the duties of the office shall devolve upon the session, until deacons can be secured.
    6. If there is a minister approved by Presbytery to serve the mission church as its pastor, and members of the mission church have been received according to BCO 6.1.d, the temporary session shall call a congregational meeting at which the congregation may, by majority vote, call the organizing pastor to be their pastor without the steps of BCO 22. If no such minister has been appointed, or the minister or congregation choose not to continue the pastoral relationship of the newly organized church, a pastor shall be called as follows:
      1. The temporary government shall oversee the election of a pastor according the provisions of BCO 22 so far as they are applicable. If a candidate is to be proposed before the organization, the congregational meeting to elect a pastor shall take place early enough for Presbytery to consider and approve the pastor’s call prior to the service of organization. This may be the same meeting called for the election of other officers.
      2. The ordination and/or installation shall be according to the provisions of BCO 23 so far as they are applicable. The service may take place at the service of organization.
    7. In order to proceed to organization as a particular church the members of the mission church shall sign a petition to Presbytery requesting the same.
    8. Upon Presbytery’s approval of the petition, Presbytery shall appoint an organizing commission and shall set the date and time of the organization service.
    9. At the service of organization the following elements shall be included in the order deemed by the organizing commission to be appropriate:
      1. The organizing commission shall ordain and/or install ruling elders and/or deacons according to the provisions of BCO 26.5 so far as they may be applicable.
      2. If a pastor is being ordained and/or installed at the service, the organizing commission shall act according to the provisions of BCO 23 so far as they may be applicable.
      3. A member of the organizing commission shall require communicant members of the mission church present to enter into covenant, by answering the following question affirmatively:

        Do you, in reliance on God for strength, solemnly promise and covenant that you will walk together as a particular church, on the principles of the faith and order of Evangel Presbytery, and that you will be zealous and faithful in maintaining the purity and peace of the whole body?

      4. A member of the organizing commission shall then say:

        I now pronounce and declare that you are constituted a church according to the Word of God and the faith and order of Evangel Presbytery. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

  3. Upon organization, the newly elected session should meet as soon as is practicable to elect a stated clerk and formulate a budget. If there is no pastor, the session may elect as moderator one of their own number or any teaching elder of the Presbytery with Presbytery’s approval. Alternatively, the administrative committee has the power of committee to appoint a moderator for the new session, giving approval on behalf of Presbytery. Further, if there is no pastor, action shall be taken to secure, as soon as practicable, the regular administration of Word and Sacraments.

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