GS 1983 art 105

GS 1983 ARTICLE 105 – Correspondence with Churches Abroad

(Presbyterian Church of Korea-Koryu-Pa)

Committee IV presents an emended version of its report on the Presbyterian Church of Korea (Koryu-Pa). This report is discussed. The Recommendations D1, 2, 3a, b, c, and are ADOPTED

Committee IV presents:

A.  MATERIAL –  Agenda VIII, H, 1  

Reports from the Committee for Correspondence

with Churches Abr oad, and an Enclosure entitled : “An Update on the Korean Connection.”

H, 3  Letter from the Church at Smithville.


  • 1.   Synod Smithville 1980 charged the Committee on Correspondence with Church­es Abroad (Acts, Art. 153, E – 4, 5).
    • a.    to continue the contact with the Korean Presbyterian Church (Koryu-Pa) with the following mandate :
      • i  to evaluate the Form of Government and to pass this evaluation on to the next General Synod;
      • ii  to inform the Synod regarding the state of communication with these Churches and also evaluate the communication with the Korean Presbyterian Church (Koryu-Pa) as to the question whether official ec­ clesiastical correspondence, even if it would be warranted in principle, can be responsibly maintained, due to distance and language;
      • iii  to make recommendations to the Synod regarding a future relationship with the Korean Presbyterian Church (Koryu-Pa).
    • b.    to evaluate the criticism of the Deputies of the Netherlands sister Churches on the Historical Review, Korean Presbyterian Church, and to report on this to the next Synod.
  • 2.  The Committee reports :
    • a.    on the criticism of the Historical Review by the Dutch Deputies :
    • i  that it has evaluated the criticism of the Dutch Deputies and found no reason to amend or retract its conclusions/consequences as stated in the Historical Review.
    • A report written for the Dutch Deputies by Prof. J.M. Batteau contains the following quotation: “The Canadian report, by the way, is an ex­cellent and accurate one, and deserves careful reading by all those in­terested in these questions”;
    • ii  that in this same report Prof. Batteau speaks of an apparent recommen­dation made in the Report-Visscher of offering a sister Church relation­ ship to the Hap-Dong Church.
    • However, the Committee stated under the heading Consequences: “In light of the above, your Committee believes it to be only fair and honest that, should the General Synod 1980 decide to offer to establish an of­ficial relationship with the Koryu-Pa, because they have requested this, we should be willing to consider the establishment of a similar relationship with the Hap-Dong, if so requested by these Churches. “
      • b.    on the contacts with the Korean Presbyterian Church:
        • i Regarding Form of Government:
          • a.   that it received material from Korea written in Korean characters. After having it translated the Committee discovered that it was not a revised edition of the entire Form  of Government, but only a list of the changes that have been made. The edition as a whole is ap­parently not available in the English language. From speaking with Dr. K.S. Lee and Dr. S.G. Hur at the ICRC in Groningen it was learned that the remainder would contain no surprises and is in line with the classic Presbyterian Form of Government ;
          • b.   that the list of changes received, deals with some of the following subjects: the various officers in the Church – lay evangelists, woman exhorter, licensed preachers, candidates for the ministry, the installed pastor. pastor emeritus, meritorious pastor, military chaplain, retired pastor. institutionary chaplain, missionary, subsidiary military pastor, elder, diaconate, financial matters, duties of a Session, congrega­tional meetings. duty of the Presbytery, authority of the General Assembly, training tor the ministry, examination of candidates, ceremony of installation, a minister coming from another denomina­tion, and other matters.
          • This list of subjects immediately indicates that the Korean Form of Government is both more elaborate and deals with topics not men­tioned in our Church Order;
          • c.   that a woman exhorter is “a lady over 50 years of age, elected by two-thirds of the congregation, but not ordained.”
          • d.   that ” nothing in these changes constitute an obstacle with respect to the recognition of the Presbyterian Church in Korea as a Church being governed by the principles of Reformed or Presbyterian Church government.”
        • ii  Regarding Communications
          • a.    that in March 1983 it received a brief report in English of the 32nd General Assembly held in September 1982;
          • b.    that the Fraternal Relations Committee gave a prompt reply in English to the Dutch Deputies’ request to scrutinize the above-mentioned Historical Review ;
          • c.    that, although the Korean Churches appear to be making a more concerted attempt to answer inquiries addressed to them, no predic­tion can be made whether a correspondence relationship could be responsibly maintained.
        • iii  Regarding Language
          • a.    that the matter of language presents great difficulties;
          • b.    that to “take heed” can only be done through English summaries of the actions of the General Assembly, through translations of per­tinent material, through using the good offices of Profs. Batteau and Gootjes and through the ICRC;
          • c.   that the language difficulties call for a different form of permanent ecclesiastical relationship;
          • d.    that it, therefore. has reservations about the manner of Synod Smithville’s response to the Church at Surrey (Acts 1980, Art. 154);
          • e.    that Synod Smithville’s charge “to make recommendations to the Synod regarding a future relationship with these (Korean) Churches” leaves room for different applications of the one relationship called ”correspondence.”
  • 3.   The Committee would like to add the words ” in so far as the circumstances will allow” to the first rule and to change “Church Order” in the third rule for cor­respondence to “Form of Government.”
  • On this basis the Committee recommends:
    • a.   that the Presbyterian Church in Korea (Koryu-Pa) be recognized as a true Church of our Lord Jesus Christ;
    • b.    that we offer to them the status of sister Church governed by the following rules of correspondence:
      • i To take mutual heed in so far as the circumstances will allow that the corresponding Churches do not deviate from the Reformed Confession in doctrine, liturgy, church government and discipline.
      • ii  To forward to each other the agenda and decisions of the broadest assemblies and to admit each other’s delegates to these assemblies as advisors.
      • iii  To inform each other concerning changes of, or additions to. the Con­fession. Form of Government and Liturgical Forms, while the corres­ponding Churches pledge to express themselves on the question whether such changes or additions are considered acceptable.
      • iv  To accept each other’s attestations and to permit each other’s ministers to preach the Word and to administer the Sacraments.
      • v  To give account to each other regarding correspondence with third parties.
    • c.    that we inform the Presbyterian Church in Korea about the regulations that govern visiting ministers, namely the need for a declaration of good stand­ing to be issued to the minister;
    • d.    that the Committee for Correspondence be charged to initiate a discussion with the sister Churches regarding the application of the rules of cor­respondence to various Churches and the creation of alternative relation­ ships. Furthermore, that an attempt be made to come to a uniform set of rules that would be flexible but also faithful to the principles of interchurch relations.
  • 4.  The Church at Smithville considers that there is no reason to specify in the case of the Koryu-Pa “in so far as the circumstances will allow,” for correspondence is always under that condition (as became evident e.g. in the second World War).


  • 1.  The Committee makes it clear that it was unable to give a proper evaluation of the Koryu-Pa ‘s Form of Government since it did not receive a copy of the entire Form of Government, but only a list of changes.
  • 2.   The Committee was unable to evaluate these changes in the context of the Form of Government as a whole.
  • 3.   It is not edifying to proceed with Ecclesiastical Fellowship at this time in view of
    • a.    the mandate given to the Committee for Contact with the OPC, namely: “to publish for the benefit of our Churches a detailed evaluation of the confes­sional and church-political divergencies, showing proof that these divergen­cies do not form an impediment in recognizing the OPC as a true Church of the Lord Jesus Chris t.” Acts Synod Cloverdale, 1983:
    • b.    the lack of clarity with respect to the present situation between the Koryu-Pa and the Hap-Dong.


Synod decide:

  • 1.   Not to accede to the Committee’s recommendations with respect to the Korean Presbyterian Church (Koryu-Pa).
  • 2   To express its gratitude to the Committee for all the work done.
  • 3.   To charge the Committee on Correspondence with Churches Abroad with the mandate:
    • a.   to obtain and evaluate the complete text of the Koryu-Pa’s Form of Government;
    • b.    to enquire into the grounds of the many changes made in this Form of Government;
    • c.    to seek an official evaluation from the Koryu-Pa of the confessional and church­ political divergencies as these have been discussed and are being discussed with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church;
    • d.    to seek information from the Koryu-Pa regarding its relations with the Hap­ Dong Churches so that the implications of establishing correspondence with the Koryu-Pa may become completely clear in this respect.