GS 1989 art 136

GS 1989 ARTICLE 136

Committee IV presents: Agenda Item VIII, D, 10


Letter from the Church at Coaldale, AB, re Acts Regional Synod West (Chilliwack, March 31 -April 3, 1987) art. 13, 14.



  • 1. The Church at Coaldale requests General Synod to judge that Regional Synod Chilliwack 1987 erred when it judged:
    • “1. The convening church was correct in constituting classis as it did and placing as first item on the agenda a request to approve the decision it made re the credentials. As such, the chairman of the convening church and his consistory did not lord it over the churches in conflict with art 74 C.O.
    • 2. Classis was correct in approving the action of the Church at Carman in constituting classis as it did.”
  • 2. Coaldale gives the following grounds:
    • a. Regional Synod 1987 misinterpreted the Classis Regulations against their obvious meaning as Regulations functioning under a Reformed Church Order.
    • b. Regional Synod 1987 based its judgment further on the untenable ground that an action is legitimate on the condition that the action after the fact will be submitted to the judges for approval.
  • 3. The Regulations of Classis AB/MB Art.4 — Convening Church — state it is the duty of the convening church among other things:
    • “F. To examine the credentials before the constitution of Classis and to assure that the delegates are seated in the alphabetical order of their churches.
    • G. To open the meeting of Classis delegates as per Art. 34 C.O. and when all the credentials have been found to be in good order to declare classis constituted.”


  • 1. The convening church does not itself constitute Classis, but only declares Classis constituted (Classical Regulations, Art. 4G).
  • 2. To declare a Classis constituted means that all who have been lawfully delegated partake with full rights in this Classis.
  • 3. The validity of credentials has to be established not by the Consistory of the convening church but by the meeting of delegates to Classis or by Classis itself. (Classical Regulations, Art.4G)
  • 4. The Church Order and the Classical Regulations AB/MB do not specify which procedure is to be followed when credentials are not found to be in good order. It is understandable that the Church at Carman took the initiative to come to a procedure, but the procedure itself should have been established by the meeting of delegates.
  • 5. It was therefore not in the province of the Church at Carman to decide which delegation from Immanuel Church should be accepted.
  • 6. An action is not necessarily illegitimate only because it has been approved “after the fact”, for the circumstances which led to such an action and the situation in which this action took place must also be duly considered.
  • 7. It goes too far to conclude from the Acts of Classis AB/MB, Jan 1987 that the Church at Carman lorded it over the other churches. The Acts indicate that right after the constitution of Classis the decision of Carman was accepted by Classis (Acts Classis AB/MB, January 1987, Art.V).
  • 8. The legal notice of suspension sent to the churches should not have functioned to determine the proper delegation to Classis because this very suspension was being appealed at this Classis.
  • 9. Regional Synod West 1987 states but does not prove that the convening church placed as first item on the agenda the approval of its action. Rather, it is evident that the Classis itself asked clarification.


Synod decide:

  • 1. the judgment of Regional Synod West 1987, regarding the appeal of Coaldale against the decisions of Classis AB/MB, Jan. 1987, was based on a misunderstanding of the Classical Regulations AB/MB regarding as to how Classis is properly constituted. However, given the lack of a specified procedure in the Regulations, Coaldale’s speaking of the “obvious meaning as Regulations functioning under a Reformed church order” is an overstatement.
  • 2. Regional Synod West 1987 should not have judged that the decision made by the Church at Carman and Classis’ approval of this decision was correct. While this procedure may rightly be questioned it is not evident, however, that there was any “lording it” of one church over the others. Classis did discuss and approve the decision of the Church at Carman.


Rev. P.K.A. de Boer and br. A. Poppe abstain from voting because this matter pertains to the Church at Carman.