GS 1983 art 111

GS 1983 ARTICLE 110Correspondence with sister Churches Abroad

The discussion on the Report of Committee IV re Church Relations is continued after some changes in the Report are noted.

The Recommendations under D are adopted. Committee IV presents :

A.  MATERIAL –    Agenda VIII, H, 1   

Report of the Committee for Correspondence with Churches Abroad (and additional report).

H, 2 Letter from the Church at Smithville.


  • 1.  The Rules for Ecclesiastical Fellowship. referred to in the Committee’s man­ date, are:
    • a.   To take mutual heed that the corresponding Churches do not deviate from the Reformed Confession in doctrine. liturgy. church government and discipline.
    • b.   To forward to each other the agenda and decisions of the broader assemblies and to admit each other’ s delegates to these assemblies as advisors.
    • c.   To inform each other concerning changes of. or additions to, the Confes­sion. Church Order and Liturgical Forms, while the corresponding Churches pledge to express themselves on the question whether such changes or ad­ditions are considered acceptable.
    • d.   To accept each others attestations and to permit each other’s ministers to preach the Word and to administer the Sacraments.
    • e. To give account to each other regarding correspondence with third parties (Acts 1962. Art. 139).
  • 2.  The Rules for Temporary Ecclesiastical Contact with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church are:
    • a.   To invite delegates to each other’s General Assemblies or General Synods and to accord such delegate s privileges of the floor in the Assembly or General Synod, but no vote.
    • b.   To exchange Minutes and Acts of each others Genera l Assemblies and General Synods as well as communications on major issues of mutual con­cern, and to solicit comments on these documents.
    • c.   To be diligent by means of continued discussions to use the contact for the purpose of reaching full correspondence
  • 3.   The Committee for Correspondence requests to receive the mandate to initiate a discussion with the sister  Churches on the rules of correspondence in light of the fact that all kinds of additional rules have either been accepted or are being considered. (See main report, p. 12, 5, d.)
  • 4.  Synod Kelmscott of the Free Reformed Churches of Australia has instructed the Deputies ” to formulate rules for temporary contact wit h Churches which do not belong as yet to the sister Churches…
  • 5.  Synod Johannesburg of Die Vrije Gere formeerde Kerke in Suid-Afrika has re­jected the model of “temporary ecclesiastical contact” as it has been adopted in both Canada and The Netherlands, because it did not want “two levels of correspondence.”
  • 6.  Synod Johannesburg decided to instruct Deputies to investigate to what extent the language differences would be an impediment for the exercise of cor­respondence in accordance with the adopted rules and to look for a different kind of relationship that is Scripturally responsible.
  • 7.  Synod Smithville, in answer to the Church of Surrey ‘s request to have another, less comprehensive relationship. stated :
    • a.   ” There is no reason to establish a different form of permanent ecclesiastical relationship with other Churches in the world than as regulated in the rules for correspondence.
    • b.   These rules can be applied realistically according to the circumstances. like the lesser or greater degree of difference between the Churches·· (Acts 1980. Art. 154).
  • 8.  The Church at Smithville expresses its concern about the trend of ecclesiastical relationships.
  • It concludes that there could be essentially four different kinds of official “ec­clesiastical relationships”:
    • a.   correspondence (according to the existing rules)
    • b.   correspondence “in revised form” (with Koryu-Pa)
    • c. temporary ecclesiastical contact relationship (with the OPC)
    • d. ” alternative relationships” (see Report VII. 4 and 5 d)

This Church sees no reason why a discussion concerning “alternative relation­ships” should be initiated by our Committee, and furthermore (with reference to the decisions of Synod 1980 in this regard) considers “alternative relation­ships” (i.e. necessarily less comprehensive relationships) as unwarranted by Scripture.


  • 1.  The Committee is correct in warning against all kinds of rules to cover different kinds of ecclesiastical relationships and in recommending one uniform set of rules for all the sister Churches.
  • 2.  The official temporary contact relationship with the Orthodox PresbY1erian Church was not designed to become a common practice to formalize relation s with Churches with which correspondence cannot yet be established. It was an ex­ceptional measure to accommodate specific concerns of the OPC.


Synod decides to instruct the Committee on Correspondence with Churches Abroad:

  • 1.  That whenever a discussion with the sister Churches on rules to cover ec­clesiastical relationships is initiated, to urge the sister Churches to maintain Cor­ respondence according to the adopted rules as the only for m of permanent ecclesiastical relationship.
  • 2.  To inform the sister Churches that the Canadian Reformed Churches have not made it a common practice to formalize ecclesiastical contacts with Churches with which correspondence cannot yet be established.