04 Aug GS 1992 art 49
GS 1992 ARTICLE 49 – Relations with Churches Abroad re Sister Churches
Committee I presents: Agenda item VIII G1a
Report of the Committee for Relations with Churches Abroad re the Committee Mandate – Free Reformed Churches of Australia (FRCA), the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands [Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland (Vrijgemaakt)] (RCN) and the Free Reformed Churches in South Africa (FRCSA)
The Committee for Relations with Churches Abroad (CRCA) received from Synod 1989 the following mandate:
- A. To continue the Ecclesiastical Fellowship with the Free Reformed Churches of Australia, De Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland, and Die Vrije Gereformeerde Kerke in Suid-Afrika in accordance with the adopted rules.
- B. To charge the CRCA to send an invitation to sister churches abroad at least one year prior to the date the next General Synod is to convene and to have our churches represented by a delegate to General Synods of such churches abroad if invited and when feasible.
- C. To renew the mandate of the CRCA as given by Synod 1986 concerning the following points:
- 1. to request the churches abroad that in the matter of relationship or contact with third parties “there be consultation and coordination between sister churches.”
- 2. to request the churches abroad that contacts in countries where sister churches are already established be made not independently but in consultation with these sister churches.
- 3. 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).
- 4. to evaluate the reaction of the sister churches in these matters with respect to a possible common approach.
- 5. to report to the next General Synod with suitable recommendations (Acts 1989, Art. 102, E, 2,3,4).
- A. The Free Reformed Churches of Australia (FRCA) The CRCA notes:
- 1. Acts of Synods were exchanged with the FRCA of Australia. The CRCA sent best wishes of our churches to the FRCA on the occasion of their General Synod Armadale 1990 and Bedfordale 1992.
- 2. The FRCA appointed deputies for contact with the Reformed Churches of Australia (RCA).
- 3. Synod Bedfordale 1992, instructed its Deputies to continue to investigate the Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore (ERCS) with a view to establishing sister church relations. In its considerations Synod renewed its support for a policy which sees the Australian sister churches concentrating more on churches which are geographically close to them.
- 4. Synod Bedfordale 1992, decided to continue its sister church relationship with the Presbyterian Church in Korea (PCK). Synod also stated that recent additions to the Westminster Confession indicated that the PCK was obedient to the Scriptures.
- 5. Synod Bedfordale 1992, decided to continue to move in the direction of a sister church relationship with the Free Church of Scotland (FCS). Deputies of the FRCA for contact with the FCS were instructed to get clarification on whether or not their offer of Temporary Ecclesiastical Contact has been accepted by the FCS.
- 6. Synod Bedfordale 1992, instructed new deputies to deal with a list of concerns with respect to the ICRC, to consult the sister churches on these concerns, to publish the results and to state that the concerns raised may affect the FRCA’s continuing membership in the ICRC. The FRCA requests a special meeting of sister churches prior to or coinciding with the ICRC meeting in 1993 to discuss their concerns about the ICRC; our CRCA proposes that the Canadian Reformed Churches delegates be mandated to attend.
- 7. Under the heading of “Training for the Ministry,” Synod decided to continue its support for our Theological College in Hamilton and to request the churches to forward $37.50 per communicant member annually for this cause, starting July 1, 1992.
- 8. Synod Armadale 1990, declared that the NASB, NKJV and NIV are better Bible translations than the RSV. Synod Bedfordale 1992, recommended to the churches that the NKJV be used for study, instruction and family purposes but to withhold final endorsement for use in the worship services, until the churches have become more familiar with it and more study has been made of the NKJV in comparison to the NIV. Synod also decided to communicate this decision to the Canadian Reformed Churches “urging the brotherhood in Canada to reach a similar decision.”
- 9. The FRCA have adopted new “Rules for Exercising Sister Relations” (see CRCA Supplementary Report I,2,f) and they desire the CanRC to adopt their rules as “common rules” for all sister churches. The CRCA has reservations about the rules that the FRCA have adopted. The CRCA is of the opinion that:
- a. the rules should be as concise as possible.
- b. Rule # 1 & 2 adopted by the FCRA should be combined.
- c. in the matter of third party relationships the expression “to give account” should not be used. It is too intrusive and was not practised.
- B. The Reformed Churches in the Netherlands [Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland (Vrijgemaakt)] (RCN).
- The CRCA notes:
- 1. The Acts of Synods were exchanged with the RCN. Upon invitation, the Revs. Cl. Stam and J. Visscher were appointed to attend Synod Leeuwarden 1990. Although they could not attend this Synod before its agenda was completed, extensive discussions were held with the Dutch deputies (BBK) on September 20, 1990.
- 2. A letter was sent by the CRCA to the Dutch deputies (BBK) expressing our regret that more consultation had not taken place before Synod Leeuwarden 1990, entered into a sister church relation with the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).
- 3. Synod Leeuwarden 1990, decided to do away with the relationship known as “the temporary ecclesiastical contact relationship” and instead adopted newly-formulated “rules for sister church relationships.” The CRCA judges these rules do not indicate any significant change in the relationship maintained until now and may well be accepted.
- 4. The RCN have initiated and still maintain contact with several Reformed and Presbyterian Churches around the world (see CRCA Report V,2,g,iii-v).
- C. The Free Reformed Churches in South Africa (FRCSA) The CRCA notes:
- 1. Acts of Synod and fraternal greetings were exchanged with the FRCSA.
- 2. Synod Capetown 1990, decided not to go so far as to recognize the Reformed Churches of South Africa as a true church, but to ask for a clear memorandum on the main differences with the RCSA.
- 3. A new committee was appointed by Synod Capetown 1990, to review the liturgical forms.
- A. From the correspondence and Acts of the FRCA, RCN and the FRCSA we may gratefully conclude that these churches are faithful to the Word of God, the Confessions and the Church Order.
- B. The CRCA has fulfilled its mandate regarding our ecclesiastical fellowship with these churches.
- C. The FRCA are to be commended for the generous support they give to the Theological College in Hamilton.
- D. The nature of ecclesiastical fellowship includes that when a sister church asks for a meeting, our CRCA delegates should if possible attend.
- E. The mandate of the CRCA includes “to request the churches abroad that contacts in countries where sister churches are already established be made in consultation with the sister churches.” The CRCA was therefore correct in addressing the RCN regarding their contact with the RCUS.
- F. The reservations of the CRCA regarding the rules adopted by the FRCA are valid. The FRCA should be requested to consider our reservations.
- A. to thank the CRCA for the work done since 1989.
- B. to continue the Ecclesiastical Fellowship with the Free Reformed Churches of Australia, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands [Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland (Vrijgemaakt)] and the Free Reformed Churches in South Africa in accordance with the adopted rules.
- C. to request the CRCA to convey our appreciation for support given by the FRCA to our Theological College in Hamilton.
- D. to charge the CRCA to send an invitation to our sister churches abroad to attend the next General Synod as soon as its date has been established and published by the convening church and to have our churches represented by a delegate to General Synods of such churches abroad if invited and when feasible.
- E. to mandate the CRCA delegates to attend, if possible, the meeting organized by the FRCA to discuss their concerns regarding the ICRC and report about this to the next General Synod.
- F. to mandate the CRCA to convey our reservations about the rules for Ecclesiastical Fellowship adopted by the FRCA.