The ordinary parliamentary rules of order commonly used in all deliberative bodies are those which govern churches and other religious societies in their meetings for business, in case no other rules are adopted at the commencement of their deliberations. Any body has the right to adopt any system of rules it may see fit to prefer.

While in ordinary Church meetings it may not be wise to be over-punctilious as to order, it is wise to be very orderly, and to avoid confusion and disorder in the proceedings. The spirit of worship should pervade the business meetings of the Church. They should be opened with singing, reading the Scriptures and prayer. The pastor is, of right, moderator, and on him, more than on any one else, will depend the good order, and the efficiency of the proceedings.


1. All business shall be presented by a motion, made by one member, and seconded by another, and presented in writing by the mover, if so required.

2. No discussion can properly be had until the motion is made, seconded, and stated by the chairman.

3. A motion cannot be withdrawn after it has been discussed, except by the unanimous consent of the body.

4. A motion having been discussed, must be put to vote, unless withdrawn, laid on the table, referred or postponed.

5. A motion lost should not be recorded, except so ordered by the body at the time.

6. A motion lost cannot be renewed at the same meeting, except by unanimous consent.

7. A motion should contain but one distinct proposition. If it contains more, it must be divided at the request of any member, and the propositions acted on separately.

8. Only one question can properly be before the meeting at the same time. No second motion can be allowed to interrupt one already under debate, except a motion to amend, to substitute, to commit, to postpone, to lay on the table, for the previous question, or to adjourn.

9. These subsidiary motions just named cannot be interrupted by any other motion; nor can any other motion be applied to them, except that to amend, which may be done by specifying some time, place, or purpose.

10. Nor can these motions interrupt or supersede each other; only that a motion to adjourn is always in order, except while a member has the floor, or a question is being taken, and, in some bodies, even then.


1. Amendments may be made to resolutions in three ways: By omitting, by adding, or by substituting words or sentences.

2. An amendment to an amendment may be made, but is seldom necessary, and should be avoided.

3. No amendment should be made which essentially changes the meaning or design of the original resolution.

4. But a substitute may be offered, which may change entirely the meaning of the resolution under debate.

5. The amendment must first be discussed and acted on, and then the original resolution as amended.


1. Any member desiring to speak on a question should rise in his place and address the moderator, confine his remarks to the question, and avoid all unkind and disrespectful language.

2. A speaker using improper language, introducing improper subjects, or otherwise out of order, should be called to order by the chairman, or any member, and must either conform to the regulations of the body, or take his seat.

3. A member while speaking can allow others to ask questions, or make explanations; but if he yields the floor to another, he cannot claim it again as his right.

4. If two members rise to speak at the same time, preference is usually given to the one farthest from the chair, or to the one opposing the motion under discussion.

5. The fact that a person has several times arisen and attempted to get the floor, gives him no claim or right to be heard. Nor does a call for the question deprive a member of his right to speak.


1. A question is put to vote by the chairman, having first distinctly restated it, that all may vote intelligently. First, the affirmative, then the negative is called, each so deliberately as to give all an opportunity of voting. He then distinctly announces whether the motion is carried, or lost.

2. Voting is usually done by "aye" and "no," or by raising the hand. In a doubtful case by standing and being counted. On certain questions by ballot.

3. If the vote, as announced by the chairman, is doubted, it is called again, usually by standing to be counted.

4. All members should vote, unless for reasons excused; or unless under discipline, in which case they should take no part in the business.

5. The moderator does not usually vote, except the question be taken by ballot; but when the meeting is equally divided, he is expected, but is not obliged, to give the casting vote.

6. When the vote is to be taken by ballot, the chairman appoints tellers, to distribute, collect, and count the ballots.


1. Committees are nominated by the chairman, if so directed by the body, or by any member, and the nomination is confirmed by a vote of the body. More commonly the body directs that all committees shall be appointed by the chairman, in which case no vote is needed to confirm.

2. Any matter of business, or subject under debate, may be referred to a committee, with or without instructions. The committee makes their report, which is the result of their deliberations. The body then takes action on the report, and on any recommendations it may contain.

3. The report of a committee is received, when it is listened to, having been called for, or permitted by the moderator, with or without a vote of the body. The report is accepted by a vote, which acknowledges their services, and places the report before the body for its action. Afterward, any distinct recommendation contained in the report is acted on, and may be adopted or rejected.

4. Frequently, however, when the recommendations of the committee are of a trifling moment or likely to be generally acceptable, the report, having been received, is accepted and adopted by the same vote.

5. A report may be recommitted to the committee, with or without instructions, or, that committee discharged and the matter referred to a new one for further consideration, so as to present it in a form more likely to meet the general concurrence of the body.

6. A committee may be appointed with power for a specific purpose. This gives them power to dispose conclusively of the matter, without further reference to the body.

7. The first named in the appointment of a committee is, by courtesy, considered the chairman. But the committee has the right to name its own chairman.

8. The member who moves the appointment of a committee is usually, though not necessarily, named its chairman.

9. Committees of arrangement, or for other protracted service, report progress from time to time, and are continued until their final report, or until their appointment expires by limitation.

10. A committee is discharged by a vote when its business is done and its report accepted. But usually, in routine business, a committee is considered discharged by the acceptance of its report.

Standing Committee

A committee appointed to act for a given period, or during the recess of the body, is called a standing committee. It has charge of a given department of business assigned by the body, and acts either with power, under instructions, or at discretion, as may be ordered. A standing committee is substantially a minor board, and has its own chairman, secretary, records, and times of meeting.


The moderator announces all votes, and decides all questions as to rules of proceeding and order of debate. But any member who is dissatisfied with his decisions may appeal from them to the body. The moderator then puts the question, "Shall the decision of the chair be sustained?" The vote of the body, whether negative or affirmative, is final. The right of appeal is undeniable, but should not be resorted to on trivial occasions.

Previous Question

Debate may be cut short by a vote to take the previous question. This means that the original, or main question under discussion, be immediately voted on, regardless of amendments and secondary questions, and without further debate. Usually a two-thirds vote is necessary to order the previous question.

1. If the motion for the previous question be carried, then the main question must be immediately taken without further debate.

2. If the motion for the previous question be lost, the debate proceeds as though no such motion had been made. .

3. If the motion for the previous question be lost, it cannot be renewed with reference to the same question during the same session.

To Lay on the Table

Immediate and decisive action on any question under discussion may be deferred by a vote to lay on the table the resolution pending. This disposes of the whole subject for the present, and ordinarily is, in effect, a final dismissal of it. But any member has the right subsequently to call it up, and the body will decide by vote whether or not it shall be taken from the table.

1. Sometimes, however, a resolution is laid on the table for the present, or until a specified time, to give place to other business.

2. A motion to lay on the table must apply to a resolution, or other papers. An abstract subject cannot be disposed of in this way.


A simple postponement is for a specified time or purpose, the business to be resumed when the time or purpose is reached. But a question indefinitely postponed is considered as finally dismissed.

Not Debatable

Certain motions, by established usage, are not debatable, but when once before the body, must be taken without discussion.

These are the previous question, for indefinite postponement, to commit, to lay on the table, to adjourn.

But when these motions are modified by some condition of time, place, or purpose, they become debatable, and subject to the rules of other motions, but debatable only in respect to the time, place, or purpose which brings them within the province of debate.

A body is, however, competent, by a vote, to allow debate on all motions.

To Reconsider

A motion to reconsider a motion previously passed must be made by one who voted for the motion when it passed. If the body votes to reconsider, then the motion or resolution being reconsidered stands before them as previous to its passage, and may be discussed, adopted, or rejected. A vote to reconsider should be taken at the same session at which the vote reconsidered was passed, and when there are as many members present. But this rule, though just, is frequently disregarded.

Not to be Discussed

If, when a question is introduced, any member objects to its discussion as foreign, profitless, or contentious, the moderator should at once put the question, "Shall this motion be discussed?" If this question be decided in the negative, the subject must be dismissed.

Order of the Day

The body may decide to take up some definite business at a specified time. That business therefore becomes the order of the day for that hour. When the time mentioned arrives the chairman calls the business, or any member may demand it, with or without a vote, and all pending questions are postponed in consequence.

Point of Order

Any member who believes that a speaker is out of order, or that discussion is proceeding improperly, may at any time rise to a point of order. He must distinctly state his question or objection, which the moderator will decide.


Questions relating to the rights and privileges of members are of primary importance, and, until disposed of, take precedence of all other business, and supersede all other motions, except that of adjournment.

Rule Suspended

A rule of order may be suspended by a vote of the body to allow the transaction of business necessary, but which could not otherwise be done without a violation of such rule.

Filling Blanks

Where different numbers are suggested for filling blanks, the highest number, greatest distance and longest time are usually voted on first.


1. A simple motion to adjourn is always in order, except while a member is speaking, or when taking a vote. It takes precedence of all other motions, and is not debatable.

2. In some deliberative bodies a motion to adjourn is in order while a speaker has the floor, or a vote is being taken, the business to stand, on reassembling, precisely as when adjournment took place.

3. A body may adjourn to a specific time, but if no time be mentioned, the fixed or usual time of meeting is understood. If there be no fixed or usual time of meeting, then an adjournment without date is equivalent to a dissolution.


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