GS 1986 art 177

GS 1986 ARTICLE 177

Contact with Churches Abroad

Committee 3 presents:



  • – Agenda, VIII, G, 3a Report of the CCCA.
  • 3b Appendices to the Report of the CCCA.


  • 1.    The Committee on Correspondence with Churches Abroad proposes to change its name to “Committee on Inter-Church Relations” for the following reasons: the word correspondence does not “convey properly the true nature of the work” of this committee. This word means very little and does not naturally allude to relations between churches.
  • 2.    The General Synod of Cloverdale (Acts, Art. 110, D, 1, 2) decided to mandate the Committee on Correspondence with Churches Abroad “that whenever a discussion with the sister-churches on rules to cover ecclesiastical relationships is initiated, to urge the sister churches to maintain ” correspondence ” accor­ding to adopted rules as the only form of permanent ecclesiastical relationship” and “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.”
  • 3.    The Committee on Correspondence with Churches Abroad reports that the matter of rules for ecclesiastical relationships (The General Synod of Cloverdale, Acts, Art. 110) ··remains unresolved. The committee of the GKN is at the moment busy studying the rules for correspondence” for the purpose of revision. The Australian sister churches “maintain that a temporary relationship can be used if it would further the goal of a sister church-status.” The South African sister-churches are considering an unofficial “second type of relationship in addition to cor­respondence.”
  • 4.    The Committee on Correspondence with Churches Abroad recommends,
    • a.     to change the name of the committee as indicated above;
    • b.    to continue discussion with the sister-churches regarding a common ap­proach to inter-church relations.


  • 1.    The proposed name, “The Committee on Inter-Church Relations,” does not describe the purpose of the committee well, since it does not show that we are dealing with churches abroad. Therefore the name, “The Committee on Rela­tions with Churches Abroad,” is better, and is in line with the names chosen by our sister-churches.
  • 2.    From the information supplied by the committee it can be noted that:
    • a.    our sister churches were informed about the decisions made by the General Synod of Cloverdale of 1983;
    • b.    not all sister-churches think alike on the need of one type of church relation­ ships;
    • c.    especially the Dutch sister-churches appear to favour  other  relationships in addition to the sister-church relationship;
    • d.    from the mandate given by the General Synod of Cloverdale of 1983 (Acts, Art. 110, D, 1, 2) it becomes evident that this Synod is concerned about,
      • i)    establishing third party relationships without consultation;
      • ii)    possible interference by a foreign church in the internal ecclesiastical affairs of a given country;
      • iii)   the introduction of different types of permanent relationships;
    • e.    they request a new mandate, instructing them to consult with the sister­ churches in the hope that a common approach to Inter-Church relations might yet be developed.
  • 3.    The Genera! Synod of Smithville of 1980 (Acts, Art. 154, D, I, 2) concluded that “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.”
    • “These rules can be applied realistically according to the circumstances”
  • 4.    The request  from the committee  to receive the new  mandate mentioned  in  2, f  above resulted  from the mandate given by the General Synod of Cloverdale of 1983 (Acts, Ari. 99, D, 5, a) which urges consultation and coordination con­cerning third-party relationships between churches.


Synod decides,

  • 1.    to change the name of this committee to “The Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad;”
  • 2.    to charge this committee:
    • a.    to continue to address the sister-churches on the matter of church-relations, setting forth the decisions and concerns of the Canadian Reformed Church­es, as outlined by the General Synods of Smithville (Acts, Art. 154, D, 1, 2) and Cloverdale (Acts, Art. 110, D, 1);
    • b.    to evaluate the reactions of the sister-churches in these matters with respect to a possible common approach;
  • c.    to report to the next general synod with suitable recommendations.

The recommendations are ADOPTED.