Last year, the PCA’s Retirement & Benefits team put together comprehensive call-package guidelines for churches to use when issuing a call to a minister. However, the language in the “Book of Church Order” is dated and does not reflect these updates.

In response, Pacific Northwest Presbytery has submitted an overture to this year’s General Assembly, recommending that BCO 20-6 be updated to include a more modern understanding of what should be included in a call, and included a form that congregations can use as a template for creating a call.

The motion states: “While some things are timeless (like the principle of a congregation ultimately having authority to decide the Terms), the format of a Call is not timeless and should reflect contemporary details.”

The new language would differentiate between salary and a housing allowance, provide a variety of options for a payment schedule, and specifically mention such benefits as equity allowance, Social Security allowance, life insurance, long-term disability insurance, leaves of absence, and sabbaticals.

“Speaking personally and as a ruling elder, I’ve been in four presbyteries and have seen many terms of call that were incomplete, unclear, and inadequate,” said Howard Donahoe, stated clerk of Pacific Northwest Presbytery.  “This is a disservice to our ministers. An optional, but standardized, form would help pulpit committees, sessions, ministers, congregations, and the presbyteries that need to review and approve the calls.”