The PCA Book of Church Order (BCO) sets forth three “types” of pastors: pastors (usually senior or “solo” pastors), associate pastors, and assistant pastors. The call to a pastor or an associate pastor is issued by a congregation, but an assistant pastor received a call from a session.
Thus, when a pastor or an associate pastor is installed, the congregation is called upon to answer questions concerning their willingness to receive the pastor and submit to his leadership; but in the case an Assistant Pastor, the questions are modified and addressed to the session. Similarly, because pastors and associate pastors are elected by the congregation, they serve as members of the Session; assistant pastors do not.
However, the BCO does not carry this distinction through when the time comes for the dissolution of a pastoral call. BCO 23-1 specifies that in such a case, the entire congregation must vote on all pastor resignations before it sends the requested dissolution to presbytery for approval.
Central Indiana Presbytery proposes allowing a session to present a request for the dissolution of an assistant pastor’s call directly to the presbytery. The overture arose as a result of the presbytery’s struggle to determine the proper application of the BCO to the dissolution of the relationship between an assistant pastor and his church. According to Pastor Adam Brice, the session of Resurrection Presbyterian Church in West Lafayette, Indiana, which drafted the overture, doesn’t believe its proposal alters the original intent of the BCO.
“Hopefully by providing language that is more specific as to the proper process in the case of each of the pastoral relations,” he says, “our overture will merely clarify the process.”
The overture has been referred to the Overtures Committee and to the Committee on Constitutional Business, which will examine it for consistency with the rest of the BCO.