GS 2004 art 88

GS 2004 Article 88 – CCCA re: the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC)

Committee 1 presented its proposal on the report of the CCCA re: the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC).  After several rounds of discussion, the following was adopted:

1.    Material

  • 1.1.   Report of the CCCA, including appendices, re: the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC)
  • 1.2.   Letter from the church at Fergus
  • 1.3.   Letter from the church at London
  • 1.4.   Letter from the church at Winnipeg (Grace)
  • 1.5.   Letter from the church at Lynden
  • 1.6.   Letter from the church at Brampton
  • 1.7.   Letter form the church at Yarrow
  • 1.8.   Letter from the church at Lincoln

2.    Admissibility

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

3.    Observations

  • 3.1.   The committee represented our churches at the 68th, 69th and 70th General Assemblies of the OPC.  In a letter to the Canadian Reformed Churches, the 68th General Assembly expressed gratitude and humility at the acceptance of the Ecclesiastical Fellowship established between our two churches. The General Assembly also asked the CCCA to arrange meetings in which to discuss the divergences.  The CCCA recommended that the discussion would focus on the two points of the joint agreement re: supervision of the Lord’s Table and confessional membership.
  • 3.2.   The only meeting between the CEIR and the CCCA took place on April 15, 2003. At that meeting the two points of the joint agreement were discussed. Although the committee states that a report of this meeting is appended, it was not included. The committee believes that there is no point in just a general discussion on divergences or differences. Many of the issues have been discussed.  Many position papers have been written and presented to the CEIR. The committee recommends that the discussions should focus first of all on the two points of the joint agreement.  Besides, the committee suggests that it might be helpful and clarifying to entertain a discussion as to how these principles are put into practice, or should be put into practice.  The committee also suggests promoting this discussion through articles in each other’s magazines, attending office bearers’ conferences and co-operation in mission and home mission. The CEIR has a rotating schedule of meeting annually with one of the churches in North America, with which the OPC is in Ecclesiastical Fellowship.  This policy is part of the reason for there being only one meeting.  However, the OPC brothers suggested that meetings beyond that minimum are feasible, as often as deemed necessary and beneficial.
  • 3.3.   The churches that interact with this report express disappointment at the fact that only one meeting with the CEIR was held, and recommend that General Synod Chatham 2004 be specific in the mandate given to the CCCA, regarding goals and items for discussion.

4.    Considerations

  • 4.1.   The committee may be correct in observing that over the past twenty years or so, many of the issues have been discussed and many position papers have been written and presented to the CEIR, yet in their letters the churches express a lack of knowledge about the discussions and papers. Past CCOPCs have not reported much regarding these discussions, beyond the summaries included in the Acts of Synod Burlington 1986. It would be beneficial for the churches to receive the evidence of these discussions and their outcome.
  • 4.2.   Both the committee and the churches are asking that a more specific goal be articulated for our discussions with the OPC. Synod Neerlandia 2001 also considered that the “existing differences do warrant continued discussion to grow in the unity of faith (Eph 4:3-6, 13)” (Article 45, Consideration 4.13). Concretely, the goal of these discussions should be to determine whether this unity of the faith regarding the church, the covenant and the sacraments is adequately and faithfully expressed in our confessional standards, as already implied in Article 45, Consideration 4.11 of the Acts Synod Neerlandia 2001.
  • 4.3.   The focus of the discussions should be two-fold: on the one hand, the scriptural faithfulness in the confessions and, on the other hand, the actual application in the reality of church-life, i.e. how the principles are put into practice, or should be put into practice.
  • 4.4.   With a view to the concerns expressed by the churches, the following matters remain crucial and should receive priority in the discussions with the OPC:
    • 4.4.1. The two points of the joint agreement, namely, the supervision of the Lord’s Table and confessional membership, as amended by Synod Fergus 1998;
    • 4.4.2. The way in which the doctrine regarding covenant and church relate to these matters.
  • 4.5.   Since more frequent meetings between the CCCA and the CEIR are feasible, the CCCA should attempt to arrange a meeting at least once a year.

5.    Recommendations

Synod decide:

  • 5.1.   To thank the CCCA for its work in our contact with the OPC.
  • 5.2.   To continue the relationship of Ecclesiastical Fellowship with the OPC under the adopted rules.
  • 5.3.   To continue the contact with the OPC by the CCCA with the mandate to continue the discussions on the existing differences in confession and church polity as noted in the Considerations 4.2-4.4.
  • 5.4.   To endeavour to meet with the CEIR at least once a year.
  • 5.5.   To publish a synopsis of the discussions on the various issues and of the position papers which have been written over the past twenty years.