Readmission of an Excommunicated Person

This morning at Branch of Hope Orthodox Presbyterian Church, I witnessed one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen at a church. The elders announced that a woman who had been excommunicated several years ago had contacted the session and expressed repentance and a desire to be received back into the communion of the church. Following the Suggested Forms for Use in Connection with the Book of Discipline contained in the Book of Church Order of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (VIII.D), this what happened:

D. Readmission of an Excommunicated Person
1. When an excommunicated person is so affected by his state
that he is brought to repentance and desires to be readmitted to the
privileges of the church, the session of the church which excommunicated him, being satisfied of the evidence of his repentance and
contrition, shall proceed to readmit him. It is fitting that the sentence
of restoration be openly pronounced by the minister in a service of
public worship on the Lord’s Day.
2. It is well that the elders stand with the minister before the
congregation.
3. The minister may address the congregation in the following or
similar words:
[Name] was excluded from the communion of the church, but
(he/she) has now given satisfactory evidence of repentance to
the session. Therefore, in the name and by the authority of our
Lord Jesus Christ, we declare (him/her) absolved from the sentence of excommunication, and we do restore (him/her) to the
communion of the church, that (he/she) may be a partaker of
all the benefits of the Lord Jesus, to (his/her) eternal salvation.

4. The minister may then address the restored believer in these or similar words:

Beloved (brother/sister), be assured in your heart that the Lord
himself has received you in grace. Be diligent to guard yourself
against the subtleties of Satan, the wickedness of the world, and
the folly of the flesh, lest you again become entangled in sin.
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit again. I charge you to continue
steadfastly in the confession which you have made, humbly relying upon the grace of God in the diligent use of the means of
grace—especially the Word of God, the sacraments, and prayer.
5. The minister may then address the congregation in these or
similar words:
Beloved Christians, receive this (brother/sister) in love. Rejoice
and be thankful, for this (brother/sister) was dead and is alive.
(He/she) was lost and is found. Rejoice with the angels, for our
Lord Jesus said, “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in
heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety
and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).
Do not look on (him/her) any longer as a stranger, but as a fellow
citizen with the saints and a member of the household of God.
6. The congregation should then be led in prayer. It is well in
such prayer to thank and praise God for granting repentance and
restoration to the one who has been restored; and to pray that he
may grow in assurance and joy; that he may walk faithfully, and that
just as he has previously caused grief, so now may he be the cause
of great joy and edification; that God may graciously enable us to
forgive and receive; and that he would enable us all to persevere in faith, hope, and love.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Praise Him, all creatures here below!

Praise Him above ye heav’nly host!

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Amen!

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    • Peter Johnson
    • January 22nd, 2012

    That’s a great story! Thanks for posting Ricky!

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