17 May GS 2001 art 101
GS 2001 Article 101 – Women’s Voting
Committee 4 presented its report on the matter of women’s voting.
- 1.1. Overture of Regional Synod East,Nov.8,2000.
- 1.2. Letters from the Churches at Elora, Lincoln, London, and Orangeville.
- 1.3. Overture from the Church at Langley.
- 1.4. Letter from br. N. van Weerden.
- 2.1. The overture of Regional Synod East is declared admissible on the basis of CO Article 30. The letters from various churches that interact with this overture are also declared admissible.
- 2.2. The letter from br. N. van Weerden makes reference to the matter of women’s voting. The Acts of Regional Synod East were sent to the churches and not to individual members. Individual members must first address their consistories. Therefore, this letter is declared inadmissible (CO Article 30 ).
- 2.3. The Church at Langley brought its overture to a classis; however, it was defeated. Therefore, this overture is declared inadmissible on the basis of CO Article 30.
- 3.1. Regional Synod East requests “General Synod to appoint a committee to revisit the matter of women’s voting rights and serve the churches with a complete report, taking into account reports and decisions from 1977-1998.”
- 3.2. The grounds for this request are:
- 1. The matter of women’s voting rights has been dealt with as a matter of the churches in common (Synods 1980, 1983, 1986, 1995,1998);
- 2. Subsequent developments since 1983, outlined in a letter from Burlington South to Classis Central Ontario of March 10, 2000, especially in our sister churches, necessitate a revisiting of the matter to examine the grounds which have now been presented;
- 3. The matter of women’s voting rights does “live in the churches” since it keeps coming back to ecclesiastical assemblies.
- 3.3. The Church at London does not consider it necessary to appoint a committee to revisit the matter of women’s voting rights. Instead, they have written a letter to General Synod requesting that the CRCA be mandated to appeal to the GKN urging them to rescind their decision allowing communicant women to vote (Agenda Item 22.214.171.124.1). London’s letter contains their “Biblical, Confessional and church political argumentation against women voting.” They note that many members of their congregation “are greatly concerned about women’s voting rights.” Moreover, they state, “it is not helpful to point at what is happening in sister churches in order to implement the same practice in the CanRC.”
- 3.4. The Church at Elora writes that they have perused the overture of Regional Synod East and have not found any new grounds that would necessitate revisiting this matter. Thus, they recommend that Synod declare this overture inadmissible on the basis of CO Article 33.
- 3.5. The Church at Lincoln asks that Synod would “not accede to the request of Regional Synod East 2000 to appoint a committee to revisit the matter of women’s voting rights on the basis of Article 33 CO.” Lincoln considers that “Article 33 CO is pertinent for Synod 2001 because Synod 1983 specifically decided not to appoint a new committee.” Like the Church at Elora, Lincoln has perused the overture and has not found any “substantially new grounds.”
- 3.6. The Church at Orangeville asks Synod to consider carefully the overture with respect to CO Article 33.
- 4.1. Synod 1983 decided, “not to appoint a new Committee on this matter” (Art. 140 D.3). CO Article 33 applies here for “matters once decided upon may not be proposed again unless they are substantiated by new grounds.” The churches of Elora, Lincoln and Orangeville are correct in pointing Synod to this article of the church order. Therefore, Synod evaluates the grounds presented by Regional Synod (see Observation 3.2).
- 4.2. The first ground that Regional Synod presents is that “the matter of women’s voting rights has been dealt with as a matter of the churches in common.” This is true. However, this in itself does not constitute a “new ground.” It only confirms that this request is at the right address, namely, General Synod.
- 4.3. The second ground concerns the subsequent developments since 1983 as outlined in a letter from Burlington South to Classis Central Ontario. From this letter we glean two major developments since 1983:
- 4.3.1. In 1992 our churches established ecclesiastical fellowship with the FCS, which does allow all members to vote.
- 4.3.2. At Synod Ommen 1993 our sister churches in the Netherlands have “established the conclusion that voting is not an exercise of authority or a matter of headship, but is an important task of all believers, male or female.”
- 4.4. Synod evaluates these developments as follows:
- 4.4.1. The fact that the FCS allows women to vote does not in itself “necessitate a revisiting of the matter.” Sister churches may have different practices than we do on certain matters, but this does not necessarily mean that we must revisit these matters.
- 4.4.2. Essentially the same applies to our Dutch sister churches. It is true that the decision of Synod Ommen 1993 affects one of the grounds of Synod Cloverdale 1983 (Art. 160 C3). However, it has not been proven that Synod Ommen brings to the fore any new grounds which were not already presented to Synod Smithville 1980 and Synod Cloverdale 1983.
- 4.5. The third ground which Regional Synod presents is that the matter of women’s voting rights does “live in the churches” since it keeps coming back to the ecclesiastical assemblies. After the decision of 1983 and one appeal in 1986, this matter has come up again at Synods 1995 and 1998. Synod 2001 is the first time that a general synod has received a request from a regional synod to appoint a committee on this matter. However, the overture of Langley was recently defeated at classis (cf. under Admissibility). To say whether or not this matter lives in the churches remains a subjective, debatable matter.
- 4.6. In sum, there have been subsequent developments since 1983, but it has not been proven that these developments have brought any new grounds to the fore.
- 4.7. The Church at London has done research regarding the decision in the GKN about who should vote in the selection of office bearers. It is appropriate for them to pass their work and recommendation on to the CRCA in order to assist them in the discussions about this matter.(Cf. Article 80,Consideration 4.5).
- 5.1. To deny the request of Regional Synod East.
- 5.2. To respond to the Church at London with consideration 4.7.
Two notices of motion were given. The chairman discussed one motion before declaring it out of order. This ruling was challenged from the floor. Recess was called. After recess the chairman publicly apologized. After further discussion the proposal was put to a vote and adopted.