GS 1992 art 121

GS 1992 ARTICLE 121Letter from the Church at Langley, BC re Synodical Decisions

Committee III presents:

  • Agenda item VIII D4

The following motion is made and defeated:

  • To add to Consideration D: according to Art. 31 C.O., a decision is considered settled and binding when agreed upon by majority vote unless it is proved to be in conflict with the Word of God or with the Church Order.


Letter from church of Langley, BC re synodical decisions e.g. Acts Winnipeg 1989 Art. 161, 91 & 108.


  • A. The church at Langley, BC expresses its concern with regard to decisions made by a number of Synods which were not substantiated by proper grounds and considerations.
  • B. By way of this letter they appeal two particular synodical decisions and at the same time warn against a wrong synodical procedure which they say is becoming more and more common at our broadest assembly.
  • C. The first example the church at Langley, BC uses to demonstrate what they call improper decision making is found in the Acts of Synod 1989 Art. 161. They argue that there were never any grounds or compelling reasons given to change the statements of the forms for baptism and public profession of faith from “summarized in the articles of the Christian faith” to “summarized in the confessions.”
  • D. The second example concerns Acts 1989 Art. 108. The church at Langley, BC refers to the fact that consideration D.3 of the aforementioned article did not give any reason explaining why Synod 1983 changed the formulation of the answer for the ordination of elders and deacons “I do” to “ I do with all my heart” when answering the appeal of br. J. VanderMeulen. The church at Langley points out that Synod 1983 did not publish any reason for this change.
  • E. The church at Langley, BC requests “those who propose or make the changes to our Confessions, Forms or Church Order have the duty to supply the grounds or the ‘compelling reasons’ for doing so.” It also requests “Seeing that in the case of Art. 108 and 161, Acts 1989 this was not done…to declare these changes null and void and to return to the original wording.”


  • A. The Committee for Liturgical Forms was given the mandate by General Synod 1977 (Article 60, Recommendation 4) to “update the language” of the forms. This indicates linguistic changes, and not changes in meaning. The example of a change in wording in the forms for baptism and public profession of faith from “summarized in the articles of the Christian faith” to “summarized in the confessions,” as raised by the church at Langley, BC, was judged by General Synod 1989 to be a linguistic change and not one in meaning (Article 161 C1; compare Acts of Synod 1986, Article 144 C1,2,3).
  • B. As to the second example, the church at Langley, BC is not correct that no grounds were given when the wording of the answer to the questions in the Form for the Ordination was changed from “I do” to “I do with all my heart.” Even though Synod 1983 did not provide reasons for the change in the Form for Ordination of Elders and Deacons, Synod 1980 did so when it revised the Form for Ordination/Installation of Ministers of the Word. It was argued that since the first question asked of those ordained to office reads “Do you feel in your hearts that God Himself … has called you to these offices?” this should be reflected in the answer given, “I do with all my heart.” (see Acts of Synod 1980, Art.139 C.4).
  • C. In his letter br. VanderMeulen asked Synod 1989 to give scriptural reasons for the addition “with all my heart.” The addition of the words “with all my heart” do not change the meaning of the answer given by the elders and deacons. It is not always possible or necessary to give scriptural grounds for a linguistic change. General Synod 1989 was correct when it answered the appellant that General Synod 1983 did not need to give any special scriptural reasons for this addition (Acts 1989, Art. 108 D.3).
  • D. Synod agrees with the principle that decisions of broader assemblies should be based on proper grounds and considerations. However, the two examples cited by the church at Langley were not made without grounds.


Synod decide:

  • A. that the examples given by the church of Langley, BC do not support the contention that Synods have made decisions without giving proper grounds and considerations.
  • B. not to accede to the church at Langley’s request to declare the particular changes to which they refer “null and void.”


Rev. J. Visscher and elder P. VanderPol abstain from voting in accordance with Art. 32 C.O.