GS 2004 art 75

GS 2004 Article 75 – CPEU re: the Theological Education Committee

Committee 2 again presented its proposal on the report of the CPEU re: the Theological Education Committee.  The following was adopted:

1.    Material

  • 1.1.   Report of the CPEU re: the Theological Education Committee, including its supplementary report
  • 1.2.   Letter from the church at Grand Rapids
  • 1.3.   Letter from the church at Grand Valley
  • 1.4.   Letter from the church at Burlington-East

2.    Admissibility

The letters from the churches are admissible since they interact with the report of the CPEU.

3.    Observations

  • 3.1.   The CPEU reports to Synod 2004 that:
    • 3.1.1. The committee is not able as yet to supply you with a “proposal concerning theological education within the new federation.”
    • 3.1.2. The committee asks “for serious consideration to continue their mandate with the hope that we will be able to serve the next General Synod, and the churches, with a finalized report.”
  • 3.2.   From the report it is noted that the United Reformed Churches have given their committee for Theological Education for Ministers the following mandate:
    • That this committee work together with the Canadian Reformed committee to draft proposals for theological education to our respective synods in preparation for an eventual plan of union. (Article XLV, Acts of Synod Escondido 2001).
  • 3.3.   The committee reports that Br. W. Smouter was unable to serve on the committee due to a large number of commitments. The committee appointed Prof. Dr. N.H. Gootjes and Mr. K.J. Veldkamp, a former governor, to augment the ranks of the committee. It was the opinion of the existing members that the workload warranted these additional appointments and that these brothers would strengthen the ability of the committee to do its work.
  • 3.4.   The committee of the URCNA requested information on the necessity and benefit of “a synodically-controlled seminary.” The committee responded with a paper entitled: “Why Do the Canadian Reformed Churches Have Their Own Seminary?”
  • 3.5.   The committee reports on a combined meeting with the URCNA, held on January 13, 2004. In this meeting a discussion was held on two papers: “Why Do the Canadian Reformed Churches Have Their Own Seminary?” and “Theological Education in the United Reformed Churches.” The following Statements of Agreement could be formulated and later accepted:
    • It is the task of the churches to train ministers;
    • Ministers of the churches must receive sound reformed theological training;
    • As a principle, the training of ministers should be done by ministers;
    • Such training is best accomplished in the context of institutional theological education;
    • It is acknowledged that active involvement of the churches is required for the training of ministers and to protect the confessional integrity of such training; and
    • The churches, i.e., the URCNA and CanRC, should work towards theological education that is properly accountable to the churches.
  • 3.6.   The next joint meeting is scheduled to take place on June 15, 2004 in Calgary, Alberta.  
  • 3.7.   The church at Grand Rapids expresses its appreciation for the committee’s paper entitled: “Why Do the Canadian Reformed Churches Have Their Own Seminary?” They hope that it will demonstrate to the URCNA the “wisdom and value of having federational as opposed to independent seminaries.”
  • 3.8.   The church at Grand Valley asks that the mandate for the committee be expanded to ensure that adequate instruction is also provided in the field of Reformed Homiletics.
  • 3.9.   The church at Burlington-East finds it regrettable that no face-to-face meetings were held between the committees of URCNA and CanRC. Concern is also expressed that the Theological Education committee is interpreting their mandate too restrictively.

4.    Considerations

  • 4.1.   Synod notes with appreciation that the committees from both federations have a similar mandate. As the mandate has not been fulfilled, the committee is encouraged to continue its work in completing this task.
  • 4.2.   Because of the committee’s workload and the scope of its mandate, Synod acknowledges that, in this particular case, the committee acted prudently in appointing an additional member.
  • 4.3.   Synod is encouraged that Statements of Agreement were formulated and accepted at the January 13, 2004 meeting, and considers it good progress in the fulfillment of the committee’s mandate.
  • 4.4.   Synod agrees with the church at Grand Rapids that the paper entitled: “Why Do the Canadian Reformed Churches Have Their Own Seminary?” is a valuable document in explaining the importance of having a federational theological college. This document reflects what the churches have agreed upon in Article 19 of the Church Order.
  • 4.5.   The church at Grand Valley is correct when it stresses the importance of Reformed Homiletics as “an independent branch of study for the students for the ministry of the gospel.” Synod agrees that, in practical terms, Reformed Homiletics can be a key area of ecumenical concern and worthy of inclusion in the mandate.
  • 4.6.   Synod agrees with the church at Burlington-East and the Theological Education Committee that it is regrettable that face-to-face meetings could not be scheduled prior to Synod’s reporting deadline. In spite of this, the committee was able to have written and verbal contact during this period and was able to meet on January 13, 2004 and have already scheduled the next meeting for June 15, 2004.
  • 4.7.   The mandate clearly states, “the new federation should retain at least one federational theological school” (emphasis added).  This would allow for the possibility of one federational college in Canada and the USA, as stated by the committee. However, the mandate should not be solely restricted to this interpretation. This addresses the concern of the church at Burlington-East.

5.    Recommendations

Synod decide:

  • 5.1.   To thank the Theological Education Committee for its work.
  • 5.2.   To give the Theological Education Committee the following mandate:
    • 5.2.1. To continue working closely with the committee re: theological education appointed by the URCNA synods;
    • 5.2.2. To continue the evaluation of the current situation as to theological education within the CanRC and URCNA;
    • 5.2.3. To develop a proposal concerning theological education within the new federation keeping in mind that:
      • The new federation should retain at least one federational theological school at which the board of governors, the professors and teaching staff are appointed by synod;
      • Attention should be given as to what to do in the case of an aspiring candidate to the ministry who does not have adequate instruction in significant courses in Reformed Doctrine, in Reformed Church Polity, or in Reformed Church History, as well as Reformed Homiletics;
    • 5.2.4. To keep the CPEU updated on the progress;
    • 5.2.5. To provide the CPEU with a report in sufficient time for it to produce the comprehensive report for Synod in a timely fashion.