The PCA Book of Church Order (BCO) was written in the 1970s and drew heavily from the work of earlier versions. Over time, procedures were developed to anticipate new circumstances.
One such situation occurs when a witness in a church judicial procedure needs to be examined, but lives at a distance from the examining session or presbytery, making it difficult for the witness to appear in person before the court. In such an instance BCO 32-8 currently allows the session or presbytery to appoint a commission to travel to the residence of the witness and take the required testimony, or to request a local session or presbytery to take the testimony.
But, Fred Greco, author of Overture 17 from Houston Metro Presbytery, points out that advances in video conferencing technology have made a third option possible: taking testimony by videoconference, thereby allowing full and vigorous examination and cross-examination of the witness.
“Testimony by videoconference allows witnesses to testify without the expense and time-constraints of travel,” he says. “This overture will ease the burden of testifying on a witness, whereas currently it is unclear who pays for the witness’ travel and how long the witness can be expected to travel.”
The overture has been referred to the Committee on Constitutional Business to determine if it is in accord with other parts of the constitution and to the Overtures Committee for review and recommendation.