25 Jun GS 1998 art 142
Article 142 – Regarding Acts of Closed Session Executive presents:
Agenda items III.E and III.Z
Letters from the churches at Burlington-East, Guelph
Both letters appeal the decision recorded in Article 117 of the Acts of General Synod Abbotsford 1995 and are declared admissible.
- A. The church at Burlington-East makes the following observations with respect to the past practices of Synod:
- 1. General Synod 1992 decided to print ‘confidential acts’ separate from the ‘general acts.’ (Article 109)
- 2. General Synod 1995 decided to “delete from the Acts all Articles dealing with discussion in closed or closed-restricted sessions, and to send two copies of these Articles dealing with discussion in closed or closed- restricted sessions, and to send two copies of these Articles to each Consistory.”
- B. The church at Burlington East observes that the matters addressed in the acts of closed sessions include:
- 1. Appeals regarding interpretation of Scripture or doctrine.
- 2. Appeals regarding procedure and Church Order at prior ecclesiastical assemblies.
- 3. Appointments to offices or committees.
- C. The church at Burlington-East considers that:
- 1. It is the duty of individual members of the congregation as well as the consistories to review the Acts of Synod and to appeal if the articles are not in accordance with Scripture and Church Order. Past synods have admitted appeals from members even if they are not directly involved in the original case.
- 2. The decisions of synods establish precedents, doctrinal statements and guildelines by which members of the churches and ecclesiastical assemblies direct their lives in the service of the Lord.
- 3. The General Synod is the broadest and therefore final court of appeal in the churches, and therefore it is necessary that justice should not only be done, but also appear to be done. In this way the churches will be edified
- 4. There is nothing in the confidential acts of Synod Abbotsford that “contained anything that could be detrimental to anyone’s reputation in any way.
- D. The church at Guelph appeals the decision recorded in Article 117 of the Acts of Synod Abbotsford 1995 on these two grounds:
- 1. The practice of deleting all articles dealing with discussions in closed or closed-restricted session is a significant change from the long standing practice of including all business conducted by synods in the published Acts. As such, a decision to delete certain items is a matter of principle on which the churches should first be heard.
- 2. When all the articles are published in the Acts, all church members can judge the action of synod in light of Scripture, and they can benefit from the judgments made concerning specific issues involved. When honour and reputation is at stake, names can be omitted. It is also possible that honour and reputation are not upheld precisely because an article has been deleted from the Acts.
- E. The church at Guelph requests Synod 98:
- 1. To judge that the churches will be better served when all business conducted is included in the published Acts of Synod. When honour and reputation is at stake, names can be left out.
- 2. To decide that changes to the long standing practice of including all business conducted by Synods to be included in the published Acts of Synod should not be made without input from the churches.
- A. The question of what is published in the Acts of Synod is not regulated by Scripture or Church Order.
- B. The Regulations of General Synod do not make any provision for ‘public acts’ and ‘confidential acts.’
- C. All ecclesiastical assemblies retain the right to decide for themselves what should be made public and what should be kept confidential. Thus it would be inappropriate to make a general rule that all Acts of Synod must be included in the ‘general acts.’ Instead it is the responsibility of every synod to decide for itself whether or not a particular Act should be kept confidential.
Synod decide not to accede to the request of the churches at Burlington-East and Guelph.