14 Jan GS 1983 art 1
GS 1983 ARTICLE 1 – Opening
On behalf of the convening Church at Cloverdale, BC, the Rev. J. Visscher calls the meeting to order. He requests that Psalm 107:1 and 12 be sung, reads Ephesians 2, and leads in prayer.
He welcomes the delegates with the following words:
“Esteemed Brethren in the Lord Jesus Christ
On behalf of the convening Church, the Church at Cloverdale, British Columbia, I would like to extend to you all a hearty welcome. We are grateful that our prayers for your safe arrival have been answered and we count it a privilege to have you in our midst. We hope that you in turn will enjoy our hospitality, as well as that of the other Churches in the Fraser Valley. We pray that your meetings may be harmonious, your decisions Scriptural, and your work a blessing to the confederation of Canadian (American) Reformed Churches.
As some of you may know this is the Tenth General Synod in the history of our Churches. Almost thirty years ago the first one was held in Homewood-Carman, Manitoba. Incidentally, there is a delegate here today who was also present at that very first assembly. For those of you who are unable to guess the answer, it is the Rev. W. J. VanOene. In any case, since that first gathering a great deal has transpired in the history and development of the Churches. Thanks to the faithfulness of the Lord, quite a number of new congregations have been planted, additional ministers and missionaries have joined the ranks of pastor and teacher, the Theological College has come into being, the Churches have divided into four classical regions, and so we can mention many more ecclesiastical highlights, not to forget also other aspects that have to do with the rise of Christian schools, a Reformed training institute for teachers, and other organizations. Truly, there has been much development over the years under the blessings of the Lord.
This is a fact that can also be recognized when one has a close look at the agenda of this Synod. A considerable amount of it is devoted to the Book of Praise and matters related to it. The new translations and revisions of the prayers, forms, confessions and Church Order all point to the fact that the efforts of the first generation are bearing fruit. As Churches, we are coming to our own in this land of our adoption.
At the same time you might also say that other matters on the agenda point to the same conclusion. You will have to deal with various matters relating to our relations with other Churches, with the International Conference of Reformed Churches, with the Theological College and the appointment of a fourth professor, with that much debated issue of voting rights for women, and with various appeals, overtures and requests. Quite simply said, brethren, “you have your plates full.”
It all points to the fact that the immigration period in the life of our Churches is over. We are settled and we are dealing with the issues and problems that settlement carries with it.
Nevertheless, as we move more and more into the mainstream of North American life, we must not discard the heritage of the past throwing it overboard as Just so much unwanted baggage. The Lord has given us much in terms of our history and in terms of understanding His Word. We must treasure all that as a gracious gift. We must always be mindful of the benefits that the Lord has bestowed upon us.
In addition, we must also be willing to let others share in the bounty that we have received. Turning to the world of sports for our illustration, as the apostle Paul did so often, we can say that as Canadian Reformed Churches we must be both defensively and offensively minded. The gifts of the Lord we are not just to defend. but also to dispense, not just to protect, but also to promote.
Let us do this in the humble awareness that all that we have received are gifts from the hand of the Lord, gifts from a merciful God to an undeserving people. Hence let there be no boasting in what we have built, in how faithful we have been. Let there only be praise to our covenant God who has seen fit to lavish His promises upon us, to use us as His instruments, and to give us the greatest gift of all – His Son Jesus Christ, as the Prophet who reveals His will fully, as the Priest who sacrifices Himself totally, as the King who defends His Church eternally.
Brothers, this great Prophet, Priest and King has called you to serve Him in the offices of minister and elder. He has called you to deal with matters that pertain to the life and well-being of all the Churches. In all of these things He expects. from you ready obedience. true humility and thankful service. As for the gifts of wisdom and guidance and proper speech. we shall pray daily that He will send you them from above.
May your decisions be a great blessing in the Churches. May you be filled with the Spirit and led by His Word.
May the Lord be with you all and with all His people.
With these words. I now declare the Tenth General Synod of the Canadian (American) Reformed Churches, opened.”