01 Feb GS 2004 art 24
GS 2004 Article 24 – CCCA re: The Reformed Church in the United States
Committee 1 again presented its proposal on the CCCA report re: the Reformed Church in the United States. The following was adopted:
- 1.1. Report of the CCCA re: the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS)
- 1.2. Letter from the church at Elora
- 1.3. Letter from the church at London
- 1.4. Letter from the church at Grand Rapids
- 1.5. Letter from the church at Orangeville
- 1.6. Letter from the church at Yarrow
The letters from the churches are declared admissible since they interact with the report submitted.
- 3.1. From the report it is clear that the CCCA has fulfilled the mandate given to it by Synod Neerlandia 2001 with respect to the RCUS.
- 3.2. The report indicates that contact is growing through fraternal delegates at broader assemblies and pulpit exchanges.
- 3.3. Re: Lord’s Day observance. The discussions resulted in a proposal to the RCUS Synod to appoint a study committee on this matter. The RCUS Synod 2003, however, defeated this proposal.
- 3.4. The Churches at Elora, London and Yarrow recommend that the discussion on the observance of the Lord’s Day be continued in order to come to uniformity between the two federations in this matter.
- 3.5. Re: Lord’s Supper to shut-ins. The committee reports that in some RCUS congregations the Lord’s Supper is celebrated with long-term shuts-ins under the supervision of the consistory. Office bearers, and often some members of the congregation, are in attendance and celebrate the Lord’s Supper with the shut-ins. The celebration usually occurs on the same Lord’s Day that the entire congregation partakes of the sacrament. The minister and at least one elder are always present, a brief exposition of the Word is given, and the Form in the Directory of Worship is used. In this way ‘sacramentalism’ is avoided. The committee considers that the manner in which the RCUS administers the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins is acceptable. It suggests that this issue may also warrant some consideration among the Canadian Reformed Churches.
- 3.6. The churches at Grand Rapids, Orangeville and Yarrow disagree with the opinion of the committee that this practice is “acceptable.” The church at Orangeville states that the committee expresses this opinion without having made a proper study of it, evaluating it in light of Scripture, and drawing on the practices and principles evident in our own history as Reformed churches.
- 3.7. The Interchurch Relations Committee (IRC) of the RCUS will pursue the task of fine-tuning the RCUS Church Unity Paper in order to align it more with the Three Forms of Unity.
- 3.8. The committee also reports on other matters which are already being, or could be, attended to within Ecclesiastical Fellowship. These include: admission of guests at the Lord’s Table, the use of attestations, the cooperation in youth/family camps, promoting the Theological College in Hamilton and pulpit exchanges. The church at London suggests that the CCCA promote our Theological College in its contact with the RCUS. The church at Yarrow observes a lack of information regarding the discussion about the fencing of the Lord’s Table.
- 3.9. The committee recommends that Synod:
- Express gratitude to the Lord for the positive development of our ecclesiastical fellowship with the RCU;.
- Take note of the extensive discussions with the RCUS re: the Lord’s Day observance, and if Synod deems it necessary, provide the CCCA with specific issues re: the Lord’s Day observance which still must be addressed; Take note of the practice of the RCUS to administer Lord’s Supper to shut-ins;
- Take note that the IRC of the RCUS is mandated to revise their Church Unity Paper, bringing the language of this paper more in line with the language of the Three Forms of Unity;
- Encourage our Classes to take/keep contact with the Classis of the RCUS bordering their area as proposed by the CCCA in December 2001;
- Recommend to the churches the desirability of actively pursuing our ecclesiastical fellowship with the RCUS via pulpit exchange, visiting RCUS churches, and invitations to youth camps/conferences held by the various churches.
- 4.1. The frequent interactions between our committee and the various assemblies and committees of the RCUS, show the positive effects which our relationship has for both federations. However, the matters discussed generate a need for further interaction, as suggested by the committee.
- 4.2. Re: Lord’s Day observance. As the IRC and our committee have agreed, Synod considers that there is a need to interact further on the application of the Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 103. It would be helpful and fruitful if our committees continue this interaction and speak together concretely about a scriptural and covenantal observance of the Lord’s Day, also bearing in mind the RCUS Constitution which stresses the need to keep the Lord’s Day holy (Arts. 113, 180). Synod agrees with the church at Yarrow that it would be beneficial for the churches if the committee could share more information concerning these discussions. The same applies to the discussion regarding the matter of the fencing of the Lord’s table. At the same time, the churches have information available on this matter in the Acts of Synod Neerlandia 2001 pp. 177-179.
- 4.3. Re: Lord’s Supper to shut-ins. In Art. 35 of the Belgic Confession we confess that “we receive this holy sacrament in the congregation of the people of God” (also see Art. 56 of the Church Order). Since both federations subscribe to the Belgic Confession, it would be beneficial to pursue further interaction on the practice of administration of the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins. This practice should be evaluated in light of Scripture and confessions, also drawing on the principles and practices evident in our own history as Reformed churches.
- 4.4. The CCCA should encourage the IRC to pursue the task of fine-tuning the RCUS Church Unity Paper since this is all part of the RCUS assimilating the Three Forms of Unity within their federation.
- 4.5. In its discussions with the IRC, our committee should promote our Theological College in Hamilton, share the report on theological education produced for our contact with the URCNA and recommend that the RCUS make use of both.
- 5.1. To thank the committee for its work in fulfilling its mandate re: the RCUS.
- 5.2. To express gratitude to the Lord for the positive developments within our contact with the RCUS.
- 5.3. To continue the relationship of Ecclesiastical Fellowship with the RCUS under the adopted rules.
- 5.4. To mandate the CCCA to continue the discussions as noted in the Considerations 4.2-5.
- 5.5. To encourage Classes to continue to develop contact with the Classis of the RCUS bordering their area.
- 5.6. To encourage the churches to pursue actively our Ecclesiastical Fellowship with the RCUS via pulpit exchanges, visiting RCUS churches, and invitations to youth camps/conferences held by the various churches.