Posted on Tue, Jun 25, 2019
by Mike Bradley, Ruling Elder
THE STRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE of the Presbyterian Church in America by Mike Bradley, Ruling Elder We are a unique bunch here at COR. Most of us were not members of a PCA church before coming to COR. We came to COR as former Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, etc. I, for instance, spent 30 years in the Catholic Church and five years as a Methodist before coming to COR. As a result, many of us do not really understand the structure and governance of the PCA. Let me give a short explanation.
There are three different levels of governance within the PCA: the Session, the Presbytery, and the General Assembly. These levels within the structure are known as Courts.
The Session is made up of leadership at the local church level. It consists of Teaching Elders (Pastors) and Ruling Elders. As a Session we are responsible for all church functions. This includes: the liturgy, the programs, the Bible Studies, overseeing staff, visiting the sick or homebound, discipline, the budget and the facilities. Most decisions regarding our church are made at this level. All Elders are trained, examined, serve internships, are elected by the congregation, and take vows before God and the congregation.
The Presbytery is a regional collection of all the Sessions, in our case Arizona. We have several churches and missions who meet three times a year to discuss the business of the Presbytery. This includes the training, examination and ordination of new Teaching Elders. It also deals with new church plants within the Presbytery, the progress of our missions, discipline, training, the budget and administrative review of the work of the Sessions.
The General Assembly is the highest court of the Church and consists of representatives of all the Presbyteries. The GA has several committees which deal with things like our college and seminary programs, our Mission to North America, our Mission to the World, Reformed University Ministries, etc. One can see that the PCA is missional by nature. The GA is responsible for reviewing suggested changes or amendments to our church constitution (The Westminster Confession of Faith and the Book of Church Order).
We are unique in another way… funding. Many denominations receive partial funding from their Conferences, the Diocese, or their parent organizations. It is just the opposite in the PCA. We receive no funding from the higher courts. In fact, we pay a substantial amount to the Presbytery and General Assembly to fund new church plants and our missions.
Our only source of income for COR is the offerings or tithes made by the congregation. That is why you will sometimes hear a sermon on the church’s need for the congregation’s generosity. OK… that is PCA 101. If you have a question, please grab one of our Ruling Elders and we can discuss this in more detail. MAY HIS FACE SHINE UPON YOU, Mike
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