Guidelines for Sessions Adopting a Manual of Operations

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Guidelines for Sessions Adopting a Manual of Operations

                                                                     Carl Wilton

                                               Stated Clerk, Presbytery of Monmouth

                                                                   April 10, 2015

                                                 Why a New Manual of Operations?

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is led by our risen Lord, Jesus Christ, who is head of the church.  We come to know Christ’s will through the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

The scriptures are interpreted and applied by the church’s Constitution, which is composed of two volumes: the Book of Confessions and the Book of Order.  The Book of Order has three parts: the Form of Government, the Directory for Worship and the Rules of Discipline.

Sections of the Form of Government are designated by the letters “F” or “G,” followed by the section number (“F” refers to the theological foundation-documents of Presbyerian government, and “G” refers to the specific rules of governance that follow).  Directory for Worship sections are designated by the letter “W” followed by the section number.  Rules of Discipline sections are designated by the letter “D” followed by the section number.

In July, 2011, a completely revised Form of Government came into effect, replacing the document the church had been using since 1983, the time of the reunion of the former United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the former Presbyterian Church, U.S.  (The Directory for Worship and the Rules of Discipline remain unchanged.)

The FOG is published in the Book of Order, which may be purchased from the church’s online store or may be downloaded free online.

The present FOG is leaner, simpler and more flexible than its predecessor – which, through years of patchwork constitutional amendments, had grown in size and complexity.  The old FOG favored a one-size-fits-all approach.  Most of its rules applied to all sizes of churches, in all sorts of community settings.  Many thought it had grown cumbersome and overly restrictive.

The present FOG allows congregations unprecedented freedom in crafting rules appropriate to their own ministry contexts. In order to take advantage of this flexibility, Sessions need to undergo a one-time process of reflection and study, crafting a Manual of Operations that will collect all their local rules and policies in one place, so everyone is clear on what they are.  Some parts of the Manual of Operations that deal with powers of the Congregation may need to be approved by the Congregation as a whole; most, however, will be approved by the Session.

Click here:  SessionManualGuide2015 for the rest of the document

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