GS 2001 art 87

GS 2001 Article 87Appeals of the Church at Barrhead and Br. B. Wielenga: Article 51 of Synod Fergus 1998

Committee 1 presented its proposal on the appeals from the Church at Barrhead and br. B. Wielenga regarding Article 51 of Synod Fergus 1998. Synod adopted the following:

1. Material

  • 1.1. Appeal of the Church at Barrhead.
  • 1.2. Appeal of Br. Bill Wielenga.

2. Admissibility

  • 2.1. The appeal of the Church at Barrhead is declared admissible since this church interacts with a decision of a major assembly.
  • 2.2. The appeal of br. Bill Wielenga is declared inadmissible since the brother has not followed the ecclesiastical way by presenting his objections to the council of his church (CO Articles 30 & 31).

3. Observations

  • 3.1. The Church at Barrhead is concerned that Synod Fergus 1998 (in Article 51, III,b,1,d;V,E;V,D) elevated Canadian Reformed traditions and practices re: Sunday observance to definitive scriptural teaching.
  • 3.2. The Church at Barrhead asks Synod “to clarify for the committee (CCRCUS) which practices of our Lord’s Day observances are scriptural imperatives (and therefore to be binding as condition for unity) and which practices are there by way of historically evolved tradition.”
  • 3.3. The Church at Barrhead helpfully points out that the Constitution (Church Order) of the RCUS says the following about Sunday observance:
    • 3.3.1. Article 178. The essential parts of public worship are a call to worship, salutation, invocation, singing, prayer, reading of the Word, preaching a sermon, giving the offerings, the benediction, and the doxology. These elements of worship approved or recommended by the Synod shall be used in the regular Lord’s Day service.
    • 3.3.2. Article 180. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) shall be kept a holy day, devoted to the public worship of the Lord, to reading of the holy Scriptures, to private devotions, and to works of love and mercy.
  • 3.4. The RCUS subscribes to the Heidelberg Catechism, which speaks of Sunday as “a day of rest.”

4. Considerations

  • 4.1. In Article 51, IV.E, Synod Fergus 1998 was addressing the activities of individual members in some RCUS congregations. On the basis of that, Synod Fergus 1998 mandated the committee “To discuss the matter of Sunday observance.” Here Synod Fergus 1998 deduced that there was a problem with the principle of Sunday observance because of certain practices of individuals.
  • 4.2. Synod Fergus 1998 would have done better to speak in terms of Reformed churches needing to hold to their confessions and church order (re: the Sunday [the Lord’s Day is a holy day and a day of rest]) rather than listing in detail such matters as going out for dinner on Sunday and working due to economic pressure.
  • 4.3. Re: the matter of having only one worship service per Lord’s Day, Synod refers the Church at Barrhead to Article 59, Observations 3.3.1,3.3.4 and 3.3.8,Consideration 4.2 and Recommendation 5.4 (of these Acts).
  • 4.4. We must judge other churches by their confessions and church order (i.e., their official positions) and not by the practices of individual members.
  • 4.5. Synod is not called to produce a list of what one is and is not allowed to do on the Sunday; rather, Synod mandates committees to speak to churches with which they have contact about faithfulness to Scripture, Confessions and Church Order.

5. Recommendation

Synod decide that since the CCRCUS knows that it must discuss any and all matters on the basis of Scripture, Confessions and Church Order, it does not need any further instructions.