In my previous post, Exit Strategy: How One Church Left the PCA, I showed how easy it is for a member church of the Presbyterian Church in America to vote to leave. It’s really quite simple. But what about the pastor? The pastor of that church is not a member of the church, but a member of the presbytery. Given that, when a church leaves the PCA, the presbytery can become (and some have) vindictive and try to bring the pastor up on ecclesiastical charges. How is the pastor to avoid such a mess when he is simply trying to faithfully shepherd the flock God has given to him?
This too, is really quite simple. BCO 38-3 reads:
When a member or officer in the Presbyterian Church in America shall attempt to withdraw from the communion of this branch of the visible Church by affiliating with some other branch (BCO 2-2), if at the time of the attempt to withdraw he is in good standing, the irregularity shall be recorded, and his new membership acknowledged, and his name removed from the roll.
There is more to it if the pastor is already under charges, but since the churches that have been pulling out of the PCA, here of late, are doing so because of other reasons, most are not under charges. The pastor simply joins the local church where he pastors, notifies the presbytery he has joined another body of the visible church, and he is no longer a member of that presbytery. It’s quite simple.
I’m not advocating that he and the church remain independent. There are other denominations besides the PCA, but this is the simplest way for a pastor to leave the PCA if his church has already done so.