12 Jun GS 1998 art 52
GS 1998 Article 52 – Committee for Contact with Churches Abroad: ICRC
The discussion continues on Committee III’s proposal re the ICRC
- A. Report of the Committee for Relations with Churches Abroad regarding the ICRC (I.D)
- B. Letter from the church at Yarrow (II.O)
The Committee for Relations with Churches Abroad received from Synod 1995 the following mandate:
- 1. That the Canadian Reformed Churches continue to participate in the ICRC and report to Synod 1998 its findings and evaluation.
- 2. That the Canadian Reformed Churches be represented at the next meeting of the conference scheduled to take place in Korea during the month of August in the year of our Lord 1997.
- 3. That the Rev. C. VanSpronsen and Dr. N.H. Gootjes be sent as voting delegates.
The CRCA reports:
- A. The Conference took place October 15-23, 1997, in Seoul, South Korea. Rev. C. VanSpronsen and Dr. N.H. Gootjes attended as voting delegates.
- B. The following churches were received as new members: The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (North America), The Christian Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Christelijk Gereformeerd), the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of England and Wales, the Gereja Gereja Masehi Musyafir N.T.T. (Indonesia), the Reformed Churches of New Zealand, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, and the United Reformed Churches in North America. The Free Reformed Churches of Australia withdrew their membership. This brings the membership in the ICRC to twenty-one.
- C. The main themes of the Conference were the matter of expressing our unity in the Lord and the execution of the great commission to preach the gospel to all nations.
- D. The next meeting of the Conference has been scheduled for 2001, to be held in the USA. The hosting church will be the OPC.
- E. The number of presentations should be limited to four so as to make more time available for the delegations to have informal meetings.
- F. The CRCA recommends:
- 1. that the Canadian Reformed Churches continue to participate in the ICRC.
- 2. that Synod give a mandate to the CRCA to recommend to the ICRC that the next meeting of the Conference limit its speeches to four and allow for meeting time between delegations.
- 3. That Synod give a mandate to the CRCA to send a normal sized delegation of two voting delegates and two advisors to the next meeting of the Conference to be held in the Northern USA.
- G. Synod observes appendix 3 (Report on the Fourth meeting of the ICRC held in Seoul, Korea from October 15-23, 1997) mentions a change in the Constitution of the ICRC. Article IV, 1 which used to read “Those Churches shall be admitted as members which: a. adhere and are faithful to the confessional standards stated in the Basis” now reads: “Those churches shall be admitted as members: a. which faithfully adhere to the Reformed Faith stated in the confessional documents listed in the Basis, and whose confessional standards agree with the said Reformed faith.” The rationale adduced for this change is that “this defines the faith shared by the member churches as the Reformed Faith expressed in the Three Forms of Unity and several versions of the Westminster Confession of Faith, thus making clearer the intent of the original wording.”
- H. The church at Yarrow places an overture before Synod, since they “believe that our membership in the ICRC can usurp the authority of our ecclesiastical bodies, thereby challenging the integrity of our church federation.” They overture Synod
- 1. To mandate the CRCA not to make any membership recommendations at the ICRC for churches with which we do not have official sister church relations.
- 2. To mandate the CRCA to express to the next ICRC that we can no longer accept the basis of the ICRC as per Article III.1 in the current ICRC Constitution, and mandate the CRCA to propose the following constitutional changes:
- a. That Art.III. 1 of the ICRC Constitution be changed to read: “to seek and promote unity of faith with member churches of the Reformed confession.”
- b. That Art.IV.1.c be changed so that churches shall be admitted as member to the ICRC which “are accepted by an unanimous vote.” This would replace the current two-thirds majority vote.
- 4. To terminate our participation in the ICRC if the proposed changes to the ICRC Constitution are rejected.
- A. An Interim Committee establishes the agenda of the next Conference (see Proceedings of The International Conference of Reformed Churches Seoul,1997 Article 84, point 7, p.38). Limiting the number of presentations at the Conference should be taken up with them.
- B. Article V of the Regulations of the ICRC states that “each member Church shall be entitled to send two voting delegates to the meeting.” Concerning advisory delegates the same article states, “Each member church may appoint two advisors…”. This article does not speak about a “normal sized delegation”. Synod also takes note of the fact that at the last ICRC ten member churches out of fourteen sent voting delegates only.
- C. The CRCA should have highlighted and evaluated in its Report the “significant move” of the Conference (ICRC 1997 Press Release) to revise Article IV. 1. a of the Constitution. The notes of the Proceedings explain the change on page 78, “This does not require any applicant church to subscribe to all of the six documents, or even to any of them, thus leaving open the possibility of admission of churches who subscribe other Reformed Confessions than those listed. Such churches and their confessions would have to be in agreement with the Reformed Faith as summarized in the six documents.”
- D. The new reading of the Constitution makes an unnecessary distinction between the Reformed Faith and the confessional standards contained in the Basis. It leaves open the question “What is the Reformed faith?” The concept of “the Reformed Faith” could be perceived as the lowest common denominator in confessional unity and takes away from the need for a confessional basis. It has the potential of opening membership in the ICRC to churches whose confessions, upon examination, are found wanting.
- E. What Yarrow proposes in their first recommendation is in line with what Synod Abbotsford expressed in Article 101, IV, B. 3, “that the CRCA should not have supported the request of the FRCNA and the RCUS. The letters of support state more than our Synods have decided with regard to these churches.” It should be made part of the mandate given to the CRCA that they make and support membership recommendations at ICRC for those churches only with which we have official sister-church relations.
- F. The church at Yarrow fails to show how their proposed change to the purpose of the Constitution is substantially different from the present wording. The words “express and promote” can refer to two types of members of the ICRC, that is, those with whom we have Ecclesiastical Fellowship and those with whom we do not. Therefore Synod Lincoln 1992 could state, “the integrity of our churches is not jeopardized by our being members of the ICRC.”
- G. The church at Yarrow does not provide grounds why unanimity would be required for admittance to the ICRC.
- A. To thank the CRCA for the work done with regard to the ICRC.
- B. That the CanRC continue to participate in the ICRC and that the CRCA submit a report to General Synod 2001 on the activities of the Conference, along with an evaluation.
- C. That the Canadian Reformed Churches be represented at the next meeting of the Conference scheduled to take place in the USA in 2001 by two voting delegates.
- D. To mandate the CRCA to make and support membership recommendations at ICRC for those churches only with which we have official sister-church relations.
- E. To mandate the CRCA to convey to the next meeting of the ICRC that the Canadian Reformed Churches disapprove of the change made in the Constitution Article IV.1.a. and to recommend that this Article be changed in such a way that the concerns of the CanRC are addressed.
It is moved to add the words “as outlined in Considerations. C and D above” to V.E.
It is moved to divide the vote re the five recommendations above.
The proposal of Committee III above is put to a vote.