Louisville, Kentucky (June 16, 1999)-The 27th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) today amended the Manual for the Standing Judicial Commission (SJC). The four amendments, each of which required approval by two-thirds of those voting which must also be a majority of the total General Assembly enrollment, passed as a package, 599-1.
The first amendment deals with situations in which people upon whom notice has been served cannot be found or refuse the delivery of notice. As amended, the SJC Manual now specifies that notice shall be regarded as having been given if: 1. "a party changes his/her address without notifying the Office of the Stated Clerk"; 2. "a party cannot be located after diligent inquiry"; 3. "a party refuses to accept delivery of materials or notice"; 4. "materials or notice are returned by the carrier with a notation that delivery could not be accomplished." The second amendment specifies that the "Record of the Case, Briefs, Arguments, and all proceedings before a Panel or the Commission shall be presented in the English language." The third amendment removes the requirement that the Stated Clerk send a copy of the Manual to the parties in the case, and now requires that the Clerk "shall notify the parties that the SJC Manual is printed as an appendix to the Book of Church Order." The fourth amendment clarifies that a ruling elder who is "a member of a church which was in the bounds of the Presbytery that was a party of the case" is automatically to be recused from judging in that case.
[Editor's Note: Historically, a ruling elder who came from a presbytery against whom complaint was lodged would be regarded as being a party to the case, because of the notion of the organic unity of the church. The impetus for this fourth amendment appears to come out of a different understanding of the nature of the church and the relationship of her courts.]