PERMANENT JUDICIAL COMMISSION (PJC)
The Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC) is the means by which the Presbytery exercises discipline within the context of pastoral care and oversight of church members and ministers of the Word and Sacrament who are members of the Presbytery. This is accomplished by a session or permanent judicial commission after a due process trial or hearing of complaints against the Presbytery or allegations of offense against individual members.
There are many different types of conflict that may arise within the context of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The judicial process provides a means of resolving, as fairly as possible, two specific types of conflict. All other conflict may be resolved or managed through a variety of administrative processes found in the Form of Government of the Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The only two types of conflict that may be addressed through the use of judicial process within Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are:
A remedial challenge is an action or inaction of a council: A challenge by a member of a council or a sister council (or, in limited circumstances, an employee of the council) of a decision made by a council alleging that the decision was beyond the power of the council given to it under the constitution or of the failure of a council to make a decision it had a duty under the constitution to make. A higher council may not file a remedial challenge against a lower council, but must seek to remedy the act of a lower council to make a decision or failure to make a decision through administrative process.
A disciplinary challenge is a correction of the action of an individual member: A challenge alleging that an individual member of the PC (USA) has committed an offense by engaging in an action that is contrary to Scripture or the PC (USA) constitution.
These processes look and sound similar to the secular judicial processes that individuals may be familiar with such as criminal and civil litigation. However, the PC (USA) judicial processes have as their basis reconciliation to be in right relationship with each other for the ultimate goal of living and being the body of Christ. There is no concept of punishment or retaliation within the PC (USA) judicial process and thus it is usually not appropriate to transport secular procedures into the church procedures.
The purpose of discipline is to honor God by making clear the significance of membership in the body of Christ; to preserve the purity of the church by nourishing the individual within the life of the believing community; to achieve justice and compassion for all participants involved; 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. In all respects, all participants are to be accorded procedural safeguards and due process, and it is the intention of these rules so to provide (Book of Order, D-1.0101).
In fulfilling its duties and responsibilities, the Permanent Judicial Commission shall:
a. function in accordance with the provisions of the Rules of Discipline found in the Book of Order, which is Part Two of The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
b. act as a court of appeal from sessions.
c. exercise original jurisdiction in disciplinary cases against teaching elder members of the presbytery.
d. serve as an advisory committee on interpretation of the Constitution when requested to do so by the Stated Clerk.