09 Aug GS 1992 79
GS 1992 ARTICLE 79 – Relations with Churches Abroad re RCUS
Committee I presents:
Agenda item VIII G1,a,2,3,4
- A. Report of the Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad (CRCA) re The Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS).
- B. Letter of the church at Attercliffe, ON.
- C. Letter of the church at Carman, MB.
- D. Letter of the church at Guelph, ON.
- A. From the CRCA report we note that on Jan. 11, 1991, the InterChurch Relations Committee of the RCUS invited an observer to be sent to the 1991 Synod that was scheduled to meet in Garner, Iowa, from April 2-5, 1991.
- B. The CRCA report records that on July 23, 1991, we received a letter from the RCUS deputies informing us that Synod 1991 of the RCUS would like to establish fraternal relations with our churches and will be sending an observer to Synod Lincoln 1992. The letter was accompanied by various documents: the Constitution of the RCUS, a brochure entitled “The Reformed Church in the United States” and a copy of the 1991 Abstract of the Minutes of the 245th Synod.
- C. The Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (RCN) informed CRCA that Synod Leeuwarden, 1990, decided to offer the RCUS a sister church relationship.
- D. The CRCA recommends that Synod 1992 respond to the requests of the RCUS for an official relationship by mandating the CRCA to investigate the RCUS with a view to entering into a relationship of ecclesiastical fellowship with it and to report its findings to the next General Synod (see CRCA Report: Section IX, 4)
- E. The church at Carman, MB has had contact with the RCUS since 1986.
- F. The church at Carman, MB requests Synod to judge that:
- 1. “The church at Carman, MB was correct to initiate such contact on the local level and to encourage her to continue it.
- 2. That Synod does not appoint a committee with a mandate for contact with the RCUS while local investigation and study is incomplete.”
- G. The church at Carman, MB maintains that “the Canadian Reformed Churches are a federation of local autonomous churches” therefore the initiative to enter into relations with other churches should come as a matter of “principle of Reformed polity” from a local church. In addition, the church at Carman, MB finds “it unnecessary and wrong for work already being done on a local level to be placed in the hands of a committee.”
- H. The church at Carman, MB does not consider the RCUS to be a church “abroad” and therefore states that we should come to full ecclesiastical unity, without leaving room for Ecclesiastical Fellowship according to the adopted rules.
- I. The church at Guelph, ON suggests that the CRCA should not be involved with the RCUS until the church at Carman requests its involvement (Art. 30 C.O.).
- J. The church at Attercliffe, ON is of the opinion that the request for seeking contact with the RCUS must come from a local church, and be brought to Synod via Classis and Regional Synod.
- K. The church of Carman, MB notes that more discussion with the RCUS is necessary concerning a number of points including:
- 1. “the method and use of church discipline (including erasure)
- 2. diversity in and among the local congregations
- 3. participants at the celebration of the Lord’s Supper
- 4. (unofficial, but practical) contact with the Christian Reformed Churches (eg. involvement with MARS and Dort College, combined worship services)
- 5. keeping the day of rest (we have received conflicting reports about this matter)
- 6. giving and receiving of attestations from other ‘conservative’ denominations.”
- The report of the CRCA also mentions the matter of theonomy as a possible discussion point.
- A. According to the Word of God and the Confessions (John 17:11, 17,20,21; Eph. 3:14-4:16; 2 Tim. 3:15, 16; L.D. 21, H.C. and Art. 27-29 B.C.), true believers and churches have the calling to seek ecclesiastical fellowship with all those who with them confess the same faith and maintain and practice it in preaching, worship, discipline and government.
- B. The following up of this calling lawfully belongs to the jurisdiction of the combined churches, on the ground that this calling has been accepted by the churches together in their confession (Art. 27, B.C.; Art. 50, C.O.), and should therefore not be made dependent on the initiative of a local church only.
- C. The church at Carman, MB is to be commended for the contact initiated with the RCUS and should not be discouraged to continue this contact. The church at Carman for its part and in its situation understood its calling to pursue unity with the RCUS. That does not exclude the federation’s own task and responsibility (in its Synods) regarding this calling especially because it is the Federation of the RCUS, and not a local church, which requests contact with our Federation. The church at Guelph, ON is not correct when it sees here a conflict with Art. 30, C.O.
- D. The desire of the RCUS to seek unity and establish a “fraternal relationship” with the CanRC is a reason for thankfulness. The documentation provided by the CRCA warrants seeking further contact with the RCUS.
- E. The aim of contact with the RCUS as a Federation of churches abroad is to come to Ecclesiastical Fellowship according to the adopted rules.
- A. to thank the church at Carman, MB and the CRCA for their work done with regard to the RCUS and express our appreciation for the desire of the RCUS to establish fraternal relations with our churches.
- B. to mandate the CRCA to investigate the RCUS with a view to entering into a relationship of Ecclesiastical Fellowship, making use of the findings of the church at Carman, MB.
- C. to send this decision to the churches at Attercliffe, ON, Carman, MB and Guelph, ON as an answer to their letters.