25 Jun GS 1998 art 131
GS 1998 Article 131 – Appeals from Barrhead, Coaldale and Taber re Article 115, Synod 1995
Committee III presents Committee III presents Agenda items II D, III C, III I.
Submissions from the churches at Barrhead, Coaldale, and Taber appealing Acts 1995, Article 115 wherein Synod responds to “Appeals against Regional Synod West 1993, Art. 11,” from (among others) the Churches at Barrhead, Coaldale, and Taber.
Synod declares the submissions of the churches at Barrhead, Coaldale, and Taber admissible since they are appeals regarding a decision made by General Synod Abbotsford 1995.
- A. The church at Barrhead “judges Synod to have given wrong consideration in coming to its decision to deny the appeals. Barrhead’s difficulty in particular is with Consideration IV.A. paragraph 2 and 3.”
- B. The church at Coaldale asks General Synod Fergus, 1998 to rescind Article 115 of General Synod Abbotsford, 1995, “since it is our conviction that this decision contradicts what we confess in article 27-29 of the Belgic Confession, and is not in accordance with what we, as churches, agreed upon in our adopted church order.” Coaldale submits objections to Considerations IV. A, B, and C, and states that “the grounds adduced by Synod for the rejection of Coaldale’s appeal are untenable in the light of the Confession, the Church Order and the apparent meaning to the considerations of the decision of Regional Synod West, 1993, article 11.”
- C. The church at Taber “requests General Synod Fergus, 1998 to rescind Article 115 of General Synod Abbotsford, 1995 … in light of the following confessional and church orderly concerns.” Taber expresses “Confessional Concern Re IV Consideration A…, and Church Orderly Concern Re IV Consideration B of article 115 General Synod Abbotsford, 1995.” Taber also requests Synod “to state that, although it would not now be kind nor even-handed to expel the American Reformed Church of Denver from the federation, the admission of the American Reformed Church of Denver was in violation of the Confession and the Church Order
- A. The churches at Barrhead and Taber, in their confessional objections against the admission of the church of Denver correctly adduce the normative character of the articles 27-29 BC. Synod Lincoln 1992 already articulated the same when it considered “these admitted churches are therefore under obligation to pursue, together with the Canadian Reformed Churches, unity with the OPC. This remains, in any case, the striving of the Canadian Reformed Churches and the CCOPC” (Art. 72,IV,2,iv, p.51/52). Article 28 of the Belgic Confession shows the dynamic character of the call to join the true church. In the midst of the difficulties that had developed in the local OPC church (Acts 1995, Art. 115, IV, C,5.), the church at Denver sought to be obedient to the norm of Article 28 by joining a federation of churches they considered true and faithful to the Word of the Lord. Obedience to Articles 27-29 was being sought in the whole process.
- B. The appellants take issue with the interim situation in the relationship between the Canadian Reformed Churches and the OPC. The interim situation had come about because Synod 1977 acknowledged the OPC to be a true church without entering a relationship of Ecclesiastical Fellowship. Synod offered the OPC a temporary relationship called “ecclesiastical contact”. Special rules were devised (Acts Synod 1977 Article 91), acknowledging a relationship of “full correspondence” could not be entered into at that time because of identified divergencies. It was this temporary relationship and the subsequent developments (e.g. fencing and confessional membership) that complicated the situation.
- C. In regard to the “Church Order Concern” about Consideration B, adduced by the churches at Coaldale and Taber, Synod 1995 noted that Coaldale and Taber did not appeal this decision in the minor assemblies, so that it “can be concluded that appellants accepted the March 1993 decision as settled and binding.” Hence, Synod considered “Art. 33 C.O. is not relevant at Classis AB/MB Oct. 1993.” Furthermore, Synod explained that “the matter of Denver’s requests had been reopened at the Classis March 1993 with as ground the decision of General Synod 1992. General Synod’s decision constitutes the new ground according to Art. 33 C.O.” Coaldale and Taber seek to prove a discrepancy in the interpretation of the process by suggesting that Synod “confuses ‘reopening’ a matter with ‘proposing’ to change a decision without new grounds.” Making such distinctions, however, only confuses the issue. Synod maintains the 1992 decision itself was the new ground, leading to the investigation.
- D. From the material presented it can be concluded that more consultation and communication between the OPC and the CanRC’s in the process of admitting Denver into the federation would have been helpful. It is evident that the evaluation of the process of admission of the church at Denver into the federation of Canadian Reformed Churches hinges on the evaluation of the history of our contact with the OPC since 1977. This appears from the interpretation of and interaction with the considerations of Regional Synod 1993 as submitted by Coaldale and as dealt with by Abbotsford 1995.
Synod decide to submit the above considerations as its answer to the appeals of the churches at Barrhead, Coaldale, and Taber.