Standing Rules of Trinity Presbytery
Revised SPRING 2018
IName of Presbytery
The name of this presbytery shall be Trinity Presbytery.
II. Meetings of Presbytery
The Trinity Presbytery shall meet annually. The annual meeting shall consist of two regular sessions. Each regular session’s worship service shall conclude with a celebration of the Lord’s Supper and the September worship service shall include a Memorial Roll Call. The retiring moderator shall preach at the February session.
A. February Session: The February session shall be held on the third Friday and Saturday in February beginning Friday at 1:00 p.m.
B. September Session: The September session shall be held on the last Friday and Saturday in September beginning Friday at 1:00 p.m.
C. Special Meetings: Trinity Presbytery may, when an emergency requires it, be called to meet in a special session. The call for any special session shall meet the requirements of Section 5.8 of The Constitution of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
D. Attendance: Ordained ministers who are members of Trinity Presbytery or who serve as stated supply for any congregation on the presbytery’s roll shall attend all meetings of the presbytery, or present to the stated clerk a valid reason for absence. The session of every congregation on the presbytery’s roll shall elect one or more of its members (number to be determined by reference to Section 5.4 of The Constitution of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church) to attend presbytery as its representative(s). Sessions whose representative(s) cannot attend presbytery as its representatives shall request, through the stated clerk-treasurer, an excuse for non-attendance.
Licentiates and candidates shall attend all meetings of the presbytery. When this is not possible, a request to be excused shall be directed to the presbytery through the stated clerk-treasurer, and the chairperson of the Committee on Probationers shall be informed of this request. Only the presbytery can act on reasons for non-attendance, or approve one’s leaving prior to the final adjournment.
A. Agenda and Program: The agenda and program for each meeting of presbytery is to be prepared by the Presbyterial Council. Each regular session of presbytery shall include six five-minute presentations concerning the life of the local congregations. Congregations shall be scheduled for presentation in alphabetical order. Each regular session of the presbytery shall also include one 30-minutes presentation from a board or standing committee of the presbytery. Boards and committees shall be scheduled for presentations according to the order of their listing in the presbyterial directory. At each February session there shall be a two-hour orientation for new members of presbytery. This orientation shall be planned and led by the Board of Missions.
B. Place of Meeting: The Presbyterial Council shall receive invitations from congregations willing to host presbytery and shall make a recommendation to presbytery. If there are no invitations, the Presbyterial Council will secure a place of meeting to recommend to presbytery.
Presbytery Year: The presbytery year shall begin January 1 and end December 31.
Officers of the Presbytery
Moderator: The moderator shall be elected in the February session to serve a period of one year. The moderator is charged with directing the business of the judicatory according to the Constitution and Rules of Order of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Vice Moderator: The vice moderator shall be elected in the February session to serve a period of one year. The vice moderator shall perform the duties of the moderator during the absence or disability of the moderator or in the case of a vacancy in the office of the moderator, and shall perform such other duties as from time to time may be assigned to the office of the moderator by the presbytery. The vice moderator shall be a member of the Presbytery Council. The moderator and vice moderator should be from opposite ends of the presbytery whenever possible. The vice moderator shall make themselves very familiar with all the details and intricacies of the operations of the boards, committees, and other agencies of the body. It is also intended that the vice moderator should be given first consideration for election as moderator the following year. The Vice Moderator shall be a member of the Presbytery Insurance Committee.
C. The Stated Clerk-Treasurer: The stated clerk-treasurer shall ordinarily be elected at the September meeting of Presbytery to serve for a period of three years, the terms to run concurrently with the calendar year. On the election of a new stated clerk-treasurer, the outgoing stated clerk-treasurer shall continue as an assistant until the February meeting of presbytery. An appropriate honorarium shall be paid to the stated clerk-treasurer. It shall be reviewed annually during the adoption of the presbyterial budget. The outgoing stated clerk-treasurer’s honorarium shall continue through the month of February.
The Stated clerk-treasurer has the responsibility to do the following:
- Reproduce and distribute copies of the minutes, within sixty days after the meetings of presbytery in February and September, to all ordained ministers who are members of the presbytery, licentiates, candidates, members of boards and standing committees, other ordained ministers serving congregations in the presbytery, session clerks of each congregation, and to each congregation (copies of the preliminary minutes equal to the number of representatives it was qualified to send to presbytery);
- Mail a program and copies of all reports to each ordained minister and session clerk ten days prior to each regular session of the presbytery;
- Make financial reports to the Board of Finance prior to their meetings before each regular session of presbytery;
- Serve as an ex-officio member of the Board of Finance;
- Make financial reports to the Presbyterial Council and the Board of Finance prior to each regular session of presbytery; and
- Monitor the time limits on the presentations required from congregations, boards and standing committees during regular sessions of presbytery.
A.Trustees: The Board of Finance shall nominate three persons from its membership for election by the presbytery at the September session to serve as trustees. The trustees shall serve three years in staggered terms to run concurrently with the calendar year. The trustees shall act officially for Trinity Presbytery by signing documents and carrying out other business as directed by presbytery.
B. Engrossing Clerk: The engrossing clerk shall record the minutes of the meetings and perform such other duties as may be assigned by the presbytery. The engrossing clerk shall be elected at the September session for a three-year term to run concurrently with the calendar year, and may or may not be a member of presbytery.
C. Presbyterial Historian: The Presbytery shall elect a Presbyterial Historian. The responsibilities of the Presbyterial Historian shall be:
1. Serve as a liaison between the denomination’s Historical Foundation and congregational heritage committees (or sessions);
2. Collect and preserve materials relating to the history of the presbytery and the denomination including minutes, printed programs, photographs, biographical materials, recorded interviews, etc.
3. Encourage sessions to deposit their non-current session records in the archives at the Historical Foundation in Memphis; and
4. Plan, promote and implement presbytery-wide celebrations in remembrance of important persons and events in the life of the presbytery and the denomination.
IV. Boards and Standing Committees of Presbytery
Each board shall have at least two (ordained) ministers and at least two laypersons. The Committee on Probationers shall have at least five ordained ministers. The membership of all other boards and committees shall contain male and female, layperson and clergy, and representatives from as many different congregations as possible. The members of boards and standing committees shall (unless otherwise stated) be limited to three years. Persons may succeed themselves twice, for a total of not more than nine years of service. One year must lapse before a person is eligible to serve again on the same board or standing committee. The term of office shall run concurrently with the calendar year.
All boards and standing committees have the responsibility to do the following:
Meet at least once a year;
Give a copy of their report to the stated clerk-treasurer at least thirty days before each regular session of presbytery; and
Submit expenses of members for travel to the meetings, sending these to the stated clerk-treasurer and following in all cases the guidelines on travel expenses established by the Presbyterial Council.
Report the attendance of all members over the last year to the Presbytery Council so the Council may make recommendations to the September session of Presbytery for replacements
- Presbytery Council: The Presbytery Council shall be responsible for supervising and coordinating the total program of the presbytery, and shall be the agency primarily responsible for long-range planning. The Presbytery Council shall consist of the moderator, vice moderator, stated clerk-treasurer, pastor host for the next regular session of presbytery, chairperson of the Permanent Task Force on Ordained Clergy and chairpersons of boards and standing committees. The authority of the council is that of an executive board and not that of an ecclesiastical commission. Between meetings of the presbytery it may interpret the presbyter’s policy decisions and make necessary program and budget adjustments, but it may not make judicial decisions for the presbytery as an ecclesiastical commission is empowered to do. The council shall be directly responsible to the presbytery.
The Presbytery Council has the responsibility to do the following:
Review the work of all boards and committees of the presbytery;
Plan the program and agenda for each session of the presbytery;
Approve the travel expenses for commissioners to General Assembly, Youth Advisory Delegates to General Assembly, delegates to Mission Synod, and members of all boards and standing committees;
Designate a place of meeting for the presbytery, when the presbytery has not selected one;
Cultivate and promote the development and growth of the presbytery both spiritual and material; and
Engage in study and planning in order to recommend goals, objectives, programs, actions and priorities to the presbytery.
No one individual, representing a single agency, may serve on the Presbytery Council for a time of more than nine (9) consecutive years.
Present to the September session of presbytery nominations for all vacancies on all permanent boards and standing committees, as well as the requisite number of delegates to Mission Synod and commissioners to the General Assembly;
Secure agreement from any person whose name is to be placed in nomination;
Fill, when directed to do so by the moderator, all vacancies on boards and standing committees that occur through the year with appointees who will serve until the presbytery meets and elects new members; and
Replace, when directed to do so by the moderator, any member of a board or standing committee who has not attended or provided an excuse for at least fifty percent of the meetings during the year with appointees who will serve until the presbytery meets and elects new members.
B. Board of Missions: The Board of Missions shall consist of nine members, with the presidents of the two regions of Women’s Ministry (Trinity South and Trinity North) as ex officio members.
The Board of Missions has the responsibility to do the following:
- Make recommendations concerning the establishment and dissolution of pastoral relationships so that no ordained minister or probationer shall take charge of a congregation within the bounds of Trinity Presbytery until the Board of Missions has approved the relationship; authority resides with the board to approve the relationship where no questions are raised; otherwise, presbytery shall be called into session prior to the ordained minister or probationer moving to the field.
- Develop and execute a long-range strategy for planting new churches;
- Redevelop established churches that have become weak;
- Develop programs of evangelism and church growth;
- Establish multiple church parishes where appropriate;
- Appoint moderators for congregations not being served by ordained ministers of Trinity Presbytery, in order that such congregations may receive the administration of the sacraments, and such other guidance as might be needed;
- The Chair of the Board of Missions should also serve on the Presbytery Insurance Committee.
- Assist pastoral search committees;
- Aid congregations that are experiencing disharmony, or other serious difficulties, by responding to congregational requests for assistance or, when that is not forthcoming, initiating the intervention in coordination and cooperation with the Permanent Task Force on Ordained Clergy;
- Publicize and promote the mission programs of the General Assembly’s Board of Missions and the mission committee in local congregations, providing those congregations with information concerning missions materials and other resources;
- Serve as a channel of communication between the General Assembly’s Board of Missions and the mission committee in local congregations, providing those congregations with information concerning missions materials and other resources;
- Sponsor seminars, mission fairs and workshops for individual congregations, a cluster of congregations, or the entire presbytery;
- Advise local churches concerning the organization of volunteer work groups for mission projects;
C. Board of Christian Education: The Board of Christian Education shall consist of nine members and has the responsibility to do the following:
- Serve as a liaison between the General Assembly’s Board of Christian Education and the committees on Christian Education in the local congregations, promoting and publicizing the programs of the General Assembly’s board;
- Serve as a resource agency for committees on Christian Education of local congregations concerning such activities as Sunday church school, weekday church school, vacation Bible school, youth and children’s programs and activities, leadership training, church officer training, stewardship education, and all additional systematic study opportunities for children, youth and adults.
- Provide workshops on curriculum materials with critical evaluations of print materials and audio or visual media;
- Aid the General Assembly’s Board of Christian Education in the development of a corps of consultants in Christian Education who will be available for workshops at the presbyterial and congregational levels;
- Plan, promote and implement summer youth camps, youth convocations, events to encourage development and enrichment of worship, marriage enrichment retreats, seminars on the particular problems of singles, special programs for children, and vacation activities for the family which relate to spiritual formation;
- Serve as an advocate for Bethel College within the presbytery;
- Nominate General Assembly Youth Advisory Delegates and alternates to the September session of the Presbytery, ensure that each Youth Advisory Delegate presents a written report at the September meeting of Presbytery;
- Responsible for the training of elders, approved by presbytery, to serve communion in congregations without a pastor in charge.
D. Board of Finance: The Board of Finance shall consist of nine members and its duties shall consist of the following:
- Examine the giving records of all congregations in the presbytery, and consult with those churches who are not meeting their responsibilities beyond their local needs, asking them to show cause for their failure to fully participate in outreach opportunities;
- Encourage full support of the presbytery’s budget and of Our United Outreach by all congregations of the presbytery and hear requests from sessions that seek relief from assigned shares of presbytery budget;
- Invite a representative of each of the presbytery’s board and standing committees requesting funds to attend its annual budget meeting for the purpose of ascertaining the program budget needs of said boards and committee;
- Present the budget to presbytery for approval at its September meeting;
- Solicit gifts for the presbytery and work with the presbytery’s Planned Giving Coordinator to promote estate planning;
- Provide for the auditing of the financial records of the presbytery;
- Plan, publicize and implement seminars and workshops on Christian stewardship and use other available means to encourage good stewardship attitudes and practices among the congregations of the presbytery;
- Serve as the agency responsible for the maintenance of the presbytery’s physical assets, such as property and equipment;
- Nominate three of its members to the presbytery for election as trustees; and
- The Insurance Committee of Trinity Presbytery
1. The Insurance Committee of Trinity Presbytery shall be made up of the following people: Moderator, Vice Moderator, Stated Clerk/Treasurer, Chairperson of the Board of Missions, Chairperson of the Permanent Task Force on Ordained Clergy, and the Chairperson of the Board of Finance and Trustees.
2. The Committee shall meet as necessary, either at the direction of Trinity Presbytery or the call of the Moderator or Stated Clerk.
3. The Committee is responsible for administration of the Presbytery’s insurance program, ensuring that all eligible ministers receive coverage, and deciding any issues not covered by these guidelines.
4. The insurance program of Trinity Presbytery will be funded through a portion of the presbytery apportionment paid by each church. Cost of the program will be included in the presbytery’s budget.
5. Trinity Presbytery will maintain a Health Insurance Reserve Fund equivalent to the cost of three (3) month’s expenses for coverage for emergency situations. This fund will be administered by the Board of Finance of Trinity Presbytery. Notification of fund transfers to be sent to the Insurance Committee.
6. All full-time ministers who are members of Trinity Presbytery, and who work at least 30 hours per week for a Cumberland Presbyterian Church that is apportioned, are to be enrolled in health care coverage and long term disability insurance.
7. Insurance will be provided through the program of the Board of Finance of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church or it will be provided if a minister selects equivalent coverage through a less expensive provider. The Insurance Committee must receive a copy of the insurance policy with the cost breakdown prior to allocation of funds by Trinity Presbytery. The allotted premiums for this coverage will be paid by Trinity Presbytery to the respective congregations.
8. The Presbytery will cover a portion of the cost of a Medicare supplemental insurance policy for all eligible retired ministers (defined to be an ordained minister who is retired from full time active service to a congregation(s) in Trinity Presbytery) of the presbytery and their spouses. The amount of the portion will be determined by the Insurance Committee. If the minister continues to work full time for the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the Presbytery will cover the full cost of supplemental insurance for the minister and a portion for the spouse at the rate of eligible retired ministers. If a retired minister has full healthcare coverage through another entity, Trinity Presbytery will not provide financial support.
9. Upon written approval from the Committee on Probationers, Licentiates may participate in the Presbytery’s health insurance program. Licentiates who have completed their studies and are eligible for ordination, upon the receipt of an approved call, may continue coverage until such time as they receive a call to full time service. Their situation will be reviewed every six months by the Committee on Probationers and the Insurance Committee.
10. When a pastoral relationship is dissolved at the request of a minister or the relationship has changed due to health issues, the Presbytery will continue to pay for health insurance coverage for a period not to exceed three months (90 days) from the last day the minister receives a salary payment from the church or until the minister secures other employment.
11. When a pastoral relationship must be dissolved by action of the presbytery at the request of the session, the Presbytery will continue to pay for health insurance coverage for a period of up to six months (180 days) from the date of the last salary payment from the church or until the minister secures other employment.
E. Committee on Probationers: The Committee on Probationers shall consist of nine members, five of whom shall be ordained ministers. The committee is charged with the responsibility of oversight, nurture and guidance of probationers.
The Committee on Probationers shall be responsible to do the following:
- Interview all persons considering becoming candidates for the ministry prior to their appearance before the presbytery;
- Use the proper procedures (see Section 6.00 “The Authority of Presbytery over Ministers, Licentiates, and Candidates” of The Constitution of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church) for receiving candidates and guiding them in their preparation for licensure and ordination;
- Supervise each probationer’s formal educational preparation; also monitor each probationer’s personal commitment, maturity, mental health, spiritual formation, and social development; encourage psychological testing, counseling or psychotherapy, if needed;
- Ensure that the educational requirement (a degree from a college or university approved by the presbytery) is met before licensure;
- Ensure that the educational requirement (a degree from a graduate school of theology approved by the presbytery) is met before ordination;
- Recommend exceptions to the educational requirements when the probationer meets the constitutional requirement for an exception (see Section 6.202 and Section 6.34 of The Constitution of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church);
- Supervise the probationers who have been allowed by the presbytery to take the Program of Alternate Studies (PAS) as an alternate route to ordination;
- Remind the presbytery regularly that exceptions to the educational requirements should not be based on personal preference or inconvenience.
- Committee on Judicial Concerns: This committee shall consist of six members and has the responsibility to do the following:
- Study all questions coming before the presbytery by appeal, dissent or protest and advise the presbytery on their legal and constitutional aspects;
- Make rulings on such judicial questions as are referred to it; and
- Review annually the session records of the individual congregations and report its findings and recommendations to the presbytery, applying the following guidelines:
a. The chair of the Committee on Judicial Concerns will assign the churches of the presbytery to committee members and each committee member will review the minutes of the churches assigned to him/her.
b. The chair of the committee will correspond (by mail, email or phone) with each committee member to verify that the minutes of each church are being received and reviewed.
c. Each committee member will hold the minutes of his/her churches until the next meeting of the committee. At that time, the minutes of the churches of Trinity Presbytery will be submitted to the stated clerk-treasurer to be mailed to the denominational archives at the Historical Foundation in Memphis.
d.The appended form will be used as a check list by committee members.
e. The session clerk of each church is asked to send a copy of the minutes of the Session and a financial report to the person checking the minutes of that church within a week of the approval of the minutes. A year-end financial statement and the budget for the ensuing year should be attached to the last minutes of the year.
Guidelines for Session Records
- Permanent Taskforce on Theological and Social Concerns: Permanent Taskforce on Theological and Social Concerns with a membership of six that will be called to meet only when given referrals by the Moderator and/or the Stated Clerk. The Taskforce has the responsibility to do the following:
1. Serve as a liaison between the General Assembly’s Commission on Theology and Social Concerns and similar committees (or the sessions) in the local congregations of the presbytery;
2. Serve as an advocate in the presbytery for the Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home;
3. Endeavor to raise the level of consciousness of the people of the presbytery on pressing social issues by printing and distributing copies of original materials, or appropriate materials produced by others, which deal with current social concerns; and
4. Sponsor workshops and seminars which deal with its areas of concern, as seems advisable, and publicize and promote such efforts by other agencies of the denomination.
A. PERMANENT TASK FORCE ON ORDAINED CLERGY: The Permanent Task Force on Ordained Clergy shall consist of four ministers and three elders.
This Task Force shall have responsibilities relating to the persons and ministries of the ordained ministers of the presbytery, and it shall make reports to the presbytery. The Task Force on Ordained Clergy had the responsibility to do the following:
- Monitor the freedom of the pulpits in the presbytery, so that neither the session nor the members of the congregation shall be allowed to interfere with an ordained minister’s freedom to preach the Gospel, so long as the preaching is done in a responsible manner;
- Monitor the ministries of the various pastors in the presbytery, so that, when a problem arises which cannot be resolved within the session, the Task Force, in cooperation and coordination with the Board of Missions, will form a committee consisting of four(4) members, two(2) from the Task Force and two(2) from the Board of Missions (the participants being selected by the chairpersons) to visit the session and/or minister and seek to bring about reconciliation. If reconciliation is not possible, report the matter to the presbytery making such recommendations as the Task Force and Board of Missions deems advisable;
- Encourage the ordained ministers of the presbytery to participate in programs of continuing education and, when possible, work with the General Assembly’s Commission on the Ministry and Memphis Theological Seminary to make such programs available;
- Report to the Committee on Discipline (Committee on Judicial Concerns any situations that may call for the disciplining of an ordained minister, using the procedures in Section 3.400 “Specific Procedures for Ministers” of the Rules of Discipline of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church;
- Publicize and promote seminars for ordained ministers and their families dealing with marital problems, marriage enrichment, and coping with the unique problems of the ministerial family;
- Encourage ministers and/or spouses who are having trouble coping to seek professional help; provide information concerning the availability of such help, and when possible, provide financial aid for such services;
- Investigate reports coming to it concerning ordained ministers who flagrantly disregard the provisions of the Constitution of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and/or preach and teach doctrines contrary to The Confession of Faith of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church;
- Reception of ministers from other denominations: interview and recommend ordained ministers from other denominations who desire to become ministers in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and make recommendations to the presbytery as to whether or not they should be received; and if received, any conditions that should be attached to their reception; all of this according to Section 6.40 “Recognition of Ordination” in the Constitution of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church;
- Determine if a minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church wishing to unite with this presbytery is of such standing as to be accepted by this presbytery prior to their letter being accepted.
- Require annual reports from those ministers who are not serving as pastors in a Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Trinity Presbytery. These reports should be sent to the Stated Clerk by June 1st each year. These reports will be compiled by the Task Force into a formal report to be presented to presbytery at the Fall meeting so that the presbytery may exercise its responsibility to review and approve or disapprove the work of ministers who are not engaged in generally recognized forms of ministry.
- Require annual reports from ministers whose ministry is not under the jurisdiction of the presbytery, so that the presbytery may exercise its responsibility to require that all ministers engage in the work of the church unless honorably retired or excused there from by the presbytery; and
- Annually contacting ministers who are honorably retired, assuring them of the Presbytery’s interest, and keeping the Presbytery informed regarding their status.
- The Chair of the Permanent Taskforce on Ordained Clergy should also serve on the Presbytery Insurance Committee.
V. Representatives to Higher Judicatories
A. Commissioners to General Assembly: Minister commissioners and elder commissioners to the General Assembly, as well as their alternates, shall be elected at the September session of presbytery. Each commissioner who attends General Assembly shall present a written report at the next September session of presbytery. Commissioners shall be paid travel expenses according to guidelines of the Presbytery Council.
B. Youth Advisory Delegates to General Assembly: Youth Advisory Delegates to the General Assembly, nominated by the Board of Christian Education, shall be elected at the September session of presbytery. Each delegate who attends General Assembly shall present a written report at the next September session of presbytery. Delegates shall be paid travel expenses according to the guidelines of the Presbytery Council.
C. Delegates to Mission Synod: Minister delegates and elder delegates to Mission Synod, as well as their alternates shall be elected at the September session of presbytery. Each delegate who attends Mission Synod shall present a written report at the next September session of presbytery. Delegates shall be paid travel expenses according to the guidelines of the Presbytery Council.
Moderators and Meeting Places
A new presbytery was formed by combining Caddo Presbytery and South Texas Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The organization of Trinity Presbytery occurred at First Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Houston, Texas, on July 6, 1989. The Reverend Lee Scott was Convener and Mrs. Johnnye Rackley served as Clerk until the officers of Trinity Presbytery were elected at this meeting. (VM): Vice Moderator