Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Does the ARP Form of Government Really Give the General Synod the Right to Dissolve a Presbytery?

In my recap of Day 2 of the General Synod, I wrote of the two options that were before us at the time: "(1) General Synod dissolves Second Presbytery (which it has the right to do, for any reason, without process, in the form of government)."

I must clarify, now, and admit that I was simply relaying what we were told on the floor of the General Synod meeting.

However, here is the relevant portion of the form of government, in its chapter on the General Synod:


12.22     The General Synod shall advise Presbyteries in its processes, but not the outcome, of the actions of the Presbyteries, in order to:

A. Organize, receive, divide, unite, transfer, dismiss, and dissolve Presbyteries in keeping with the advancement of the Church and

B.  Review the Presbytery records, provide counsel and advice when requested.

Compare this to an analogous portion of the form of government, in its chapter on Presbyteries:


10.2       The Presbytery shall have as its primary responsibility the initiation, planning, organization, and administration of programs designed to enable it to carry on the mission of God in Christ's Church by word and deed in the Presbytery and also in the local congregations, the General Synod and the whole world.

10.3        In order to carry out its responsibilities, the Presbytery has power to:

A. Enforce the lawful injunctions of the higher courts.

B.  Receive, hear, resolve, and decide references, appeals, and complaints according to constitutional procedures, including questions of doctrine or discipline.

C. Advise and to assume original jurisdiction for adjudication on matters from church Sessions where their authority cannot be exercised.

D. Review and approve or censure the records of Sessions and to require their correction, to redress anything contrary to order, and to take effectual care for the observance of the Standards of the ARPC.

E. Unite, divide, organize, dissolve, receive, dismiss, and transfer congregations.

F. Hold, dispose, and apply the properties of dissolved congregations at its discretion. 


So I ask, gentle reader, did the General Synod have the right to do so, as we were told? Does it have that right even now? In light of having reviewed the sections above, I have edited the Day 2 Recap post to present what I wrote as indicating what we were told, rather than stating a fact.

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