You have mentioned that there are five degrees of censure in church discipline.
What exactly are these five degrees and is this stated in the church constitution?

The five degrees of censure in church discipline are Admonition, Rebuke,
Suspension, Deposition and Excommunication. These five degrees are stated in
Article 8.2 of the Church Constitution under “Membership”.

8.2 If any member shall be found by the Board of Elders/Church Session
to have acted in a manner unbecoming of a member or by his act or
omission be likely to hinder the witness of the Church or render it of
ill repute, the Board of Elders/Church Session shall request him to
appear before the Board of Elders/ Church Session. The Board of
Elders/Church Session shall have the power to admonish, rebuke,
suspend, depose or ex-communicate the member and where the
Board of Elders/Church Session considers expedient to do, adopt,
follow or adapt to the procedure laid down in the Bible-Presbyterian
Book of Discipline.

The reason for the church session is mentioned in 8.2 for church discipline is in
the event of the lack of plurality of elders in the church. Otherwise, the
responsibility, authority and exercise of church discipline lies in the Board of

Explanation of the five degrees of censure can be found in the Bible
Presbyterian Book of Discipline under Chapter 7: Censure and Restoration. It is
reproduced here for our reference and understanding:

1. In judicial discipline there are five degrees of censure: admonition,
rebuke, suspension, deposition, and excommunication. Censures shall be
pronounced by the moderator for the trial court in the name and by the
authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, the church’s only Head and King.

2. If a person, adjudged guilty and remaining under the jurisdiction of this
church, refuses or fails to present himself for censure, the trial court shall
again cite the person to appear. If he does not appear after a second
citation, the censure shall be imposed in his absence. Wilful refusal to
appear may be deemed an aggravation of the original offense.

3. Admonition consists in tenderly and solemnly addressing the offender,
placing his sin before him, warning him of his danger, and exhorting him
to repentance and greater fidelity to the Lord Jesus Christ.

4. Rebuke is a form of censure more severe than admonition. It consists in
setting forth the serious character of the offense, reproving the offender,
and exhorting him to repentance and more perfect fidelity to the Lord
Jesus Christ.

5. Suspension is a form of censure by which one is deprived of the
privileges of communicant membership in the church, from office, or
from both. It may be for a definite or an indefinite time. Suspension of an
officer from the communion of the church shall always be accompanied
with suspension from office, but the latter does not necessarily involve the

6. An office-bearer or other communicant member of the church, while
under suspension, shall be the object of deep solicitude and earnest
dealing to the end that he may be restored. When the trial court which
pronounces the censure is satisfied of the penitence of the offender, or
when the time of suspension has expired and no new offense has arisen,
the censure shall be removed, and the offender shall be restored. This
restoration shall be accompanied with solemn admonition. Restoration to
the privileges of communion may take place without restoration to office.

7. Deposition of an officer consists in depriving him permanently of the
exercise of his office, and may follow upon conviction of heresy or gross

8. Deposition of a pastor or his suspension for an indefinite time involves
the dissolution of the pastoral tie. The sentence of deposition or
suspension shall be read before the congregation, and the pulpit shall be
declared vacant. In case of suspension for a limited period, the presbytery
shall decide whether the pastoral relation shall be dissolved.

9. When a minister has been deposed or has been suspended for an indefinite
time, the court shall immediately notify all the presbyteries of the church.

10. Excommunication is the most severe form of censure and is resorted to
only in cases of peculiar aggravation and persistent impenitence. It
consists in solemnly excluding the offender from the communion of the
visible church of Jesus Christ.

11. The suspension, deposition, or excommunication of an officer or other
member of the church shall be announced to the church in which the
officer concerned holds office, or in which the member concerned holds
membership. Such announcement shall be accompanied with an urgent
request for prayer for the offender to the end that he may be restored.

12. When, after the passing of a year, a suspended person has failed to repent,
it may be the duty of the court to impose further censure and it may
proceed to deposition or excommunication or both, after investigation of
the present status of the person involved and consideration of the effect of
the action upon the church.

13. The censures herein set forth shall always be accompanied with prayer to
God that He may graciously use the act of discipline for the restoration of
the offender, the edification of the church, and His own glory.

14. An officer deposed because of immoral conduct shall be restored only
upon the most evident repentance, and after the court has assured itself
that the restoration will not be attended by injury to the cause of the

15. A minister, ruling elder, or deacon who has been lawfully deposed cannot
resume his former office without again being ordained.

16. Restoration, which may be accomplished even after the extreme penalty of
excommunication, shall always be accompanied with a prayer of
thanksgiving to God for His redeeming grace.

The purpose of church discipline is “to vindicate the honor of Christ, to promote
the purity of the church, and to reclaim the offender.” (1.2 of the Book of
Discipline) Thus, church discipline must never be exercised in a careless or
abusive manner, but always in the fear of the Lord. The prayer is that the
offended may be restored.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew