10 Aug GS 1992 art 127
GS 1992 ARTICLE 127 – Appeals of a Decision of Regional Synod West, June 16, 1992, (Art. 7a)
Committee IV presents:
- Agenda item VIII D6,7,8,10, F9
A motion is made which the chairman rules inadmissable. This ruling is challenged, but the chair is sustained by a vote.
- A. Letter from the church at Carman, MB re Acts Regional Synod West June 16, 1992, Art. 7.
- B. Letter from the church at Winnipeg, MB re same
- C. Letter from the church at Neerlandia, AB re same
- D. Letter from br. W. De Haan, Wardsville, ON re decisions of Regional Synod West, June 16, 1992.
- E. Overture from the church at Grand Rapids, USA re “Denver.”
- A. The submissions from the churches at Carman, MB, Neerlandia, AB and Winnipeg, MB, and from br. W. De Haan appeal a decision of Regional Synod West of June 16, 1992.
- B. The “overture” of the church at Denver, submitted by the church at Grand Rapids, USA, serves “as additional information.”
All of the letters appeal the decision by Regional Synod West in response to the appeals to the decision of Classis Alberta/Manitoba of March 17-19, 1992 not to grant the request from Christ American Reformed Church, Denver (CARC) for affiliation with the Federation of Canadian Reformed Churches.
- A. The church at Carman, MB requests “General Synod to judge that Regional Synod West erred in its judgment, Article 7 concerning the decision of Classis Alberta/Manitoba of March 17-19, 1992 and that therefore this Classis decision cannot stand,” on the following grounds:
- 1. A proper investigation should have been made, “including investigating the reasons for the CARC rescinding its first intention to join the OPC, before it can decide to advise the CARC that it should renew this intention.”
- 2. The judgment of Regional Synod West was “based entirely on previous decision of the Canadian Reformed Churches to recognize the OPC as true churches,” and not on other “material on the table of Classis and Regional Synod,” whether or not this material was sufficient.
- 3. The recognition of the OPC as true church in 1977 has “not been put into practice because serious divergencies remain.”
- 4. There are precedents in the Canadian Reformed Churches for admitting former OPC churches on the same points, which should have been investigated before deciding on the appeals re Denver.
- B. The church at Winnipeg, MB urges General Synod to rule “that the Regional Synod West 1992 has erred in upholding the decision of Classis AB/MB of March 1992 not to accede to the request of the church at Denver” and “that the Classis AB/MB should as yet examine the request at its own merits and deal with it accordingly.” The following grounds are advanced:
- 1. Regional Synod has taken part of the decision of Synod 1977 “out of context.”
- 2. Regional Synod fails to recognize “the temporary nature of the ecclesiastical contact.”
- 3. Regional Synod fails to read the decision of Coaldale 1977 “in its entirety.”
- 4. The arguments based on decisions of previous General Synods on similar matters were dismissed, and “continuity … will be impaired if an assembly can dismiss an argument in this manner.”
- 5. Regional Synod was wrong in stating that the church of Denver should “bring [their] concerns to the courts of the OPC and to request a judgment on these matters,” since “such requests for judgment had already been made by others.”
- 6. Regional Synod did not take into account that the CARC in Denver adopted the Three Forms of Unity as its standards, and thus “would have to imply that the formal acceptance of the Three Forms of Unity by the church of Denver was illegitimate.”
- C. The church at Neerlandia, AB regrets that its appeal was lumped “together with the appeals of the churches of Carman and Winnipeg, MB.” Neerlandia was not in favour of granting Denver its request, but wanted to have the matter addressed “within the larger context of our relationship as Canadian Reformed Churches with the OPC,” i.e. recognizing the OPC “as a true church” while not having “full correspondence expressing the unity of faith.”
- D. Brother De Haan appeals that Regional Synod West, in upholding the decision of Classis AB/MB of March 17-19, 1992 not to grant the request of the church at Denver to be admitted as a sister church, asking this church instead to seek affiliation with the Presbytery of the Dakotas of the OPC, “acted very careless in not taking into account”:
- 1. the existing divergencies.
- 2. difficulties encountered by the Denver church regarding the OPC.
- 3. the adoption of the Three Forms of Unity and Church Order of Dort.
- 4. the fact that the Canadian Reformed Churches do not have a sister church relationship with the OPC.
- He requests that the decisions of Regional Synod West and Classis AB/MB be rescinded “and so open the way that this church can be admitted into the Federation of American and Canadian Reformed Churches.”
- E. The church at Grand Rapids, USA supports an overture of the American Reformed Church at Denver as follows, “it is our conviction that the American Reformed Church Denver should have been accepted within the federation of the Canadian/American Reformed Churches. This church could not, and never did, join the OPC, as confirmed in the attached overture.”
- The overture of the church at Denver focuses on the question “how can a request by a church for affiliation be denied without hearing and weighing the motivation for that request from the church itself? The decision of classis was made without the benefit of further inquiry into our situation and contact with the OPC.”
- F. The objections by the appellants may be summarized as follows:
- 1. The decision of Regional Synod West was not based on the entire decision of Synod 1977 to recognize the OPC as a true church, but only on a part, and it was taken out of context.
- 2. The Christ American Reformed Church did not receive a fair hearing since no committee was appointed to investigate the situation.
- 3. There are precedents for admitting former OPC churches on the same points as advanced by Denver.
- 4. The request of the Christ American Reformed Church was a request of an independent church which had adopted the Three Forms of Unity and the Church Order of Dort and therefore should be accepted.
- A. General Synod considers that Regional Synod West attempted to place the admission of the church at Denver within the context of the history of the contact between the OPC and the Canadian Reformed Churches (Acts, article 7, II B-E). Regional Synod considered both the recognition as true church and the temporary contact relationship. Regional Synod did not provide clarification with respect to the manner in which to deal with congregations which withdraw from the OPC and seek affiliation with our churches before the resolution of this temporary relationship.
- The decision of Classis AB/MB of March 17-19, 1992 does not sufficiently reflect appreciation for the difficulties resulting from this temporary and undefined relationship. In this respect General Synod Lincoln refers to its considerations (Acts, Art. 72,IV,A,2,c,ii, and vi) which take into account “outstanding issues” as well as “proper procedures.”
- B. General Synod considers that no church specifically requested Regional Synod that further investigation be undertaken to examine the request from the church at Denver. The matter of “proper investigation” is now placed before General Synod. It is regrettable that a motion for such an investigation was defeated by Classis (Acts, Art.13). General Synod Lincoln refers in this connection to the consideration that such requests be dealt with “in open consultation with the ecclesiastical assemblies involved” (Acts, Art. 72,IV,A,2,b, and c,vi). This would imply that such consultation between Classis AB/MB, the Presbytery of the Dakotas, and the Christ American Reformed Church as yet may be beneficial.
- C. General Synod considers that earlier admissions of other churches from the OPC in other classical areas should not be unreservedly viewed as precedents, for each case must be judged on its own circumstances and merits. Regional Synod could have taken into account that there are overlapping issues in these cases, although it must also be kept in mind that the discussion of “the divergencies” takes place at the level of General Synod through its contact committee.
- D. General Synod considers that it is not evident from the material provided that the matter of the Christ American Reformed Church being an independent church which had adopted the Three Forms of Unity was placed before Regional Synod. Rather, the question was whether the position of the Denver church vis-a-vis the OPC had been legitimately resolved. Since Regional Synod did not have clarity on this matter it questioned the legitimacy of the request for affiliation, in order to preserve the integrity of our official ecclesiastical contact relationship with the OPC. General Synod Lincoln refers in this respect to the procedure outlined earlier (Acts, Art. 72,II,A,2,c,ii and vi).
- A. to send the above considerations as a response to the submissions of the churches at Carman, MB, Winnipeg, MB, Neerlandia, AB, Grand Rapids, USA and br. W. De Haan.
- B. to send a copy of this response to the Christ American Reformed Church and the convening church of the next Classis AB/MB and to the Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of the Dakotas of the OPC.