Provided by Sharon Moore, Stated Clerk

Service on Synod PJC

In response to very good questions about participation on a Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC) I provide the following information.

  1. What are the responsibilities of our elected members of the PJC?
    • According to the Book of Order (BOO), the elected members of the PJC are part of the church’s exercise of authority via church discipline. D-1.0101 BOO. The members are responsible for overseeing the church’s disciplinary process when necessary.  While PJC operates in a manner similar to secular judicial systems it is not a substitute, and in fact it acts beyond what the secular judicial system can do.  This system exists to honor God; to preserve the purity of the church; to achieve justice and compassion for all participants; to correct or restrain wrongdoing in order to bring members to repentance and restoration; to uphold the dignity of those who have been harmed by disciplinary offenses; to restore the unity of the church by removing the causes of discord and division; and to secure the just, speedy, and economical determination of proceedings.
    • One of the key functions of the members of the PJC is to be sure that in all respects, all participants are accorded procedural safeguards and due process.
  1. When does the Synod PJC meet?
    • It meets when called by the Stated Clerk of the Synod; usually because a complaint was filed and there is need for adjudication of a disciplinary or remedial matter.
  1. Training of PJC
    • When a complaint is filed the members are notified and called to attend a meeting to elect the Moderator/Vice-Moderator, Clerk/Vice-clerk for the PJC.
    • Next the members are provided a training session to inform and/or refresh on the procedural and substantive rules that apply for a particular matter. This training is conducted by the staff of the Office of General Assembly.
    • If in the course of adjudication the members are unclear on substantive or procedural matters additional training/guidance will be provided to allow the members to reach a decision.
  1. Right now there is a remedial case pending before the Synod PJC, the new members would not participate in that adjudication; but would be called for any future matters.
  1. Some further points of clarification about PJC terms
    • The term of each member of a permanent judicial commission shall be six years. During that term a member may not be called to serve actively at all.  D-5.0102 BOO.
    • If the member’s term is expired, but there is a matter presented to the Synod PJC and a quorum cannot be obtained, “the stated clerk shall immediately select, by rotation from that roster, a sufficient number of former members of the permanent judicial commission to constitute a quorum.” D-5.0206a BOO.  This means that while a member’s six year term may have expired with/without adjudicating a matter, that member could be called back to serve because circumstances show there are not enough current PJC members to satisfy the number for a quorum.
  1. In a “post-Covid” era there may be the need to travel as part of service on PJC. Since meetings are scheduled by the PJC members there is room to set a boundary for no nighttime travel, or other travel restrictions.  Also, with the flexibility we have learned in the Covid era if travel is a limitation to participation I believe that can be negotiated/navigated in favor of participation.