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The Role of the Constitution in the Life of the Church

An Address at Columbia Theological Seminary on April 26, 2002, by Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly.

A People of the Book

There is no group of Christian people for whom constitutions are more important than for Presbyterians. In a strange way, the book review editor of the Charlotte Observer captured this insight when the General Assembly met in Charlotte in 1998. She had a habit of informing the community about conventions being held in the city by doing a book review of the book that was the "best seller" at each of the major conventions that came to Charlotte. The Presbyterian Church (USA) presented her with a real challenge. Can you guess which book is the "best seller" at our assemblies year after year? You got it right! It's the Book of Order. For a book review editor who was used to reviewing the latest novel by John Grisham, a new book on management, or an analysis of world events, doing a review on the Book of Order and making it exciting for the average newspaper reader was daunting.

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