08 Apr GS 1983 art 61
GS 1983 ARTICLE 61 – Response Rev. J. Visscher to Dutch delegates
On behalf of Synod the Rev. J. Visscher responds to the words spoken by Dr. K. Deddens (who addressed Synod the day before on behalf of the Dutch sister Churches) as follows:
“Mr. Chairman. you have asked me to say a few words in response to the address given yesterday evening by the Rev. Dr. K. Deddens, one of the representatives of De Gere formeerde Kerken in Nederland. the other being the Rev. J. de Gelder. Now, to this re quest I will gladly comply.
I say “gladly” for a number of reasons. The first is that the relationship between the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland and the Canadian Reformed Churches is in many ways a unique one. By and large our Churches and their members trace their origin back to the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland. Some would say that we are really a daughter Church of the GKN. I, however, being somewhat of an ecclesiastical nationalist would say that if we are a daughter, then at least it should be remarked that we consider ourselves a full-grown daughter who has severed the apron strings, but not the bond of love, respect. and a common faith.
In addition, I may also remark that the relationship between our Churches is influenced not only by matters of origin, but also by constantly rendering assistance to each other. Now it is true that this has for years been a rather one-sided affair. We have received from you many members, ministers (witness the fact that six of the ministers sitting here as members of Synod were trained in The Netherlands) as well as professors (Dr. J. Faber, Ors. H. M. Ohmann, and now you as well, Dr. K. Deddens). With all of this we are truly grateful, for this influx has made our existence possible in a sense and has enriched us immensely. For our part we have given you less in the way of concrete assistance, although we are so bold as to consider one of your professors, Ors. H. M. Ohmann, as almost one of our own and hence a Canadian export. Perhaps in the future, if our Theological College continues to supply graduates in numbers greater than we can assimilate, it may be possible to return the favour more fully.
Still, as Churches we have more in common than just origin and assistance. We also seem to be concerned with many of the same issues. You are busy revising your Church Book and so are we. You have adopted a revised Church Order, and hopefully, we will be able to do the same. You have had to deal with the issue of women’s voting rights, and we are called upon to deal with it as well. You have shown great interest in spreading the Reformed witness abroad and in making contacts with other Churches around the world that share the Reformed faith, and we share much of that same interest – although it should be pointed out that our interest is on a lesser scale and that we do not involve ourselves in quite so many international Reformed “fishing expeditions” (some would add here, “alas” ).
In connection with this subject, the International Conference of Reformed Churches (ICRC) was mentioned last night as well. We were made aware of the fact that your Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad has recommended to Synod Heemse 1984 that the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland should send delegates to the First Assembly of the ICRC that will meet, the Lord willing, in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1985. You express the hope that our Churches will precede yours in terms of membership in the ICRC. Now. it is too early to say what this General Synod will decide with respect to the ICRC, although the fact that no local Church in our federation has written this Synod to object to the recommendation of the Committee for Correspondence with Churches Abroad to join will hopefully count for something. On a personal note, also on behalf of the Rev. M. VanBeveren. I would like as yet to thank your Churches officially for the hospitality that you extended to us as delegates to the Constituent Assembly of the ICRC held in Groningen, The Netherlands. We would also like to express our appreciation here for the fact that your Churches were so kind as to host that Assembly, with all the preparations and the expenses that this entailed.
Finally, you have remarked that your Churches constitute only a small minority in your land. Well, our situation in this regard is that we are an even smaller minority here in Canada. In addition, we have a church life that is in several respects not nearly as developed and mature as yours. Nevertheless, with you we are convinced that numbers are of little consequence if the Lord is on our side. Our respective calling as Churches is to live faithfully, fully and humbly according to the will of God as expressed in the Scriptures and in the subordinate standards of our Churches, namely, the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort. If we do that then truly our Churches will receive His blessing, for He is faithful.
May the Lord be with your Churches. May He work in you continually with His Word and Spirit. And may we always be a hand and a foot to each other. Churches united together in the bond of the true faith and under the only Lord and Sovereign, Jesus Christ, the King of the Church. To Him be all praise and glory. “