GS 1983 art 179

GS 1983 ARTICLE 179Closing of Synod

The vice-chairman, Rev. J. Geertsema, speaks some words of gratitude to the chair­ man, Rev. W. W. J. VanOene. He specially notes that the chairman was of great service to Synod by the manner in which he chaired the meetings. He expresses the gratitude of the members of Synod for the cordial leadership given. He mentions that this will be the last Synod which the Rev. W.W.J. VanOene will be attending as member, since he will soon be retiring, and wishes Rev. VanOene also for the future the blessing of the Lord.

The chairman addresses Synod with the following words:

The recently adopted Guidelines for Synodical Meetings provide that it is the task of the chairman to close Synod “with appropriate remarks and with prayer” Thus it is my task to do so now that we have arrived at the point at which we can say that the task has been completed: all the points of the agenda have been dealt with and in this manner we have outlived our usefulness. so to speak.

This is a reason for great gratitude. The Lord kept and sustained us during these past weeks. Not only were we all brought here safely. but also this was experienced: that no one was prevented from taking part in the work at any time: we received health and strength. Except for brother George Ladder – who had to return because of the sudden death of an infant grandson – no one had to miss even one session because of illness or worse. For this we are very grateful.

Another reason for gratitude is the unity which became evident in everything. Even when unanimity could not be reached in each and every instance. we were together and worked together in one mind and in one spirit. Is this not a great gift. bestowed upon us by our heavenly Father through His Holy Spirit? All around us people seek that which 1s their own; we were allowed to seek that which is our Lord’s and there in we sought the well-being of His Church. In this manner we were allowed to benefit from it ourselves. To a certain extent this Synod brought the conclusion of matters which were con­sidered for many years

Among these matters the Book of Praise takes not the least place.

This enormous undertaking, begun in 1954. of’ providing the Churches with a com­plete Psalter in the English language. with preservation of the Genevan tunes. at times seemed to be a hopeless undertaking. At this Synod. twenty-nine years after its begin­ning, the work was brought to its conclusion: Both Psalms and Hymns were scrutinized: the former as far as their rhyming is concerned, the latter as to rhyming and contents From now on our children can learn the songs without having to be afraid that the words will be replaced by others.

Our Confessions have not necessarily received their final redaction: parts of their English text have been provisionally adopted. This does not mean that things are still uncertain or that another major revision of the English translation can be expected : it only means that it may appear necessary to change a word here. to replace a word there. If no such need becomes evident, the form in which they have now been adopted will be the definitive one. The new Book of Praise will no longer contain the text which has become so familiar to our Catechism students and to all others who made it their habit to acquaint themselves thoroughly with what we confess. This will be a small inconven­ience when compared to the updated text which has been adopted. This updating refers only to the language as such, not to the contents. The contents have remained the same and will remain the same, for the truth of God does not change.

Our Book of Praise will also contain a revised Church Order. Already at the first Synod of the Canadian Reformed Churches it was realized that such a revision was necessary. Various general synods dealt with this matter, but it took until now to adopt an English text. Until the very moment of the adoption of our revised Church Order the only official text we had was the Dutch one, except for the odd article which general synods adopted in specific instances. Hereby we have cut one more of the apron strings

That the bond with our Netherlands sister Churches was not weakened thereby was evident from the presence of two of our brothers from The Netherlands. We thank the Lord for His grace in the bonds we may have and practise. Being small when compared to the large ecclesiastical bodies all around us. we are the more grateful for proofs of true unity and relations which express the oneness in faith.

Speaking of delegates from The Netherlands, we think especially of Dr. K. Ded­dens. our fourth full-time professor. It was good to have him in our midst and to become acquainted with him. It was good for him to be here and to taste the climate within the Canadian Reformed Churches in whose midst he will be working.

The Rev. J. J. Peterson was in our midst as well. Upon his return to his place and Church he will have been able to make known our will and desire to have bonds with others. as well as our conviction and determination to have only such bonds as permis­sible ties which are the bonds of faith and of faithfulness to our King and Saviour. Wherever we find such faith and faithfulness we shall gladly and wholeheartedly extend our hand of fellowship and clasp the one that is offered to us.

This desire is also expressed in the decision to Join the International Conference of Reformed Churches.

Initially I had quite some doubts about this venture. but what I heard at this Synod both from our own Committee on Correspondence and from the Dutch delegates has convinced me that we should not stay away from this international effort. I am happy that we could decide to partake. The proposals which have been adopted regarding this matter are sufficient indication that broadening the circle of contacts is not intended to be a broadening – and thus a narrowing – of the basis on which we stand.

It was with this basis that we busied ourselves. When saying this, I refer not only to the examination and adoption of new translations of our Confessional Forms. but also to the need to judge certain statements made and to do so by what we say in our Con­fessions.

This Synod had to deal with appeals – is there ever a Reformed Synod which does not find any appeals on its agenda?? – appeals which concerned that which we con­ fess concerning the Church.

Not every one will be happy with the decisions made. If one wishes to make every one feel happy for a limited time. the solution is easy: say to the one that he is right and say the same thing to the other; and if someone criticizes you for doing this, say to him that he is right in his criticism. However: in this manner no questions are answered, no difficulties solved. no directions pointed out.

We have, I am convinced, refrained from making extra- or super-confessional state­ments. We simply have examined certain statements and asked whether these are in agreement with what we confess. We did not judge persons, much less did we condemn them. Our discussions and findings were factual, not personal. If our decisions are abused. this is not our responsibility but the responsibility of the one doing so.

This brings me to the discussions as such.

Everyone who spoke about this Synod remarked that there was such an excellent harmony and cooperation. We ourselves experienced this as well. We thank our God who. by His Holy Spirit, so ruled our hearts and minds that this harmony was a reality among us. Then it does not matter that not all decisions were made unanimously. It still is so, as one of the brothers remarked during a discussion, that it is a good Reformed practice to accept a decision once it has been made and that there is no need for taking a second vote to make it unanimous.

As your chairman I wish to thank you all, brothers. for the manner in which you cooperated in working efficiently. speedily. thoroughly. yet without rushing or being super­ficial in preparation as well as in discussion and decision-making.

Our work was greatly facilitated by the excellent preparation by the convening Church. the Church at Cloverdale I must admit that. when I did not receive any document prior to the opening of Synod, I was quite critical of the preparations. Then we came here, saw the orderly way in which everything was presented. heard that most of the material had come in during the last two weeks – why. O why??? – and criticism had to yield to great admiration. Thank you. brothers. for it is also thanks to you that Synod can be closed four weeks to the day after its opening.

Also in some other ways we experienced the good care and concern of the Clover­ dale congregation We were wined and dined – so to speak – daily. One of us said today, “I know what the first thing will be my wife says when she sees me: ‘You have put on weight’ That’s what you get from all that eating and drinking. “He said it in the dialect of Drenthe, and in the original, authorized text it sounds even better

I would do injustice to many of our sisters if I tried to mention all the names of those who took part in this care. Many of our sisters were engaged in the preparation of our meals and desserts. We do not know where everything came from but we can assure you that it was prepared with care and dedication in an almost endless variety.

We wish to honour all these sisters in mentioning the two who had the supervision: sister Audrey Mostert and sister Effie Sikma. They watched over us like mothers and it was a correct statement when I sometimes answered a question with, “Yes, Mom,” or “No, Mom.” To show our appreciation to all who cooperated we present each of you with a plant, honouring all in you. Thank you both, thank you all.

At the same time we wish to show our appreciation to the Church at Cloverdale as a whole. I may therefore present you. Rev. Visscher. with a copper pot filled with dried flowers which – we hope – will be a lasting reminder of our gratitude.

Synod Cloverdale 1983 draws to a close. The Lord has been with us and has used us.

It is not up to us to judge our work. We did it, as Rev. VanderBoom correctly pointed out in his sermon on the eve of Synod, without asking for praise and without fearing blame.

The future will show what it will be. The LORD may bless us and keep us.

The LORD may make His face to shine upon us and be gracious to us. The LORD may lift up His countenance upon us and give us peace.

Thank You.

He requests to sing Psalm 150, and leads in thanksgiving to the Lord. Synod Cloverdale 1983 is closed.

By order of Synod,

  • W.W.J. VanOene, chairman
  • J. Geertsema, vice-chairman
  • Cl. Stam, first clerk
  • W. Pouwelse, second clerk