07 Sep GS 2007 art 107
GS 2007 Article 107 – Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS)
The advisory committee submitted its proposal:
- 1.1 CCCA Report 4
- 1.2-6 Letters from the following five churches: Carman East, Elora, Fergus Maranatha, London, Yarrow
- 1.7 Letter from the Interchurch Relations Committee of the RCUS
- 2.1 In a letter to General Synod of the Canadian Reformed Churches dated May 9, 2007, the Interchurch Relations Committee of the RCUS expresses regret that no delegate from the RCUS can be present at this synod. The ICR expresses gratitude “for the way that our relationship has developed, and trust that we will continue to seek out ways that we may further engage in working together.” The RCUS extend their “hearty and warm greetings in the name of our Saviour Christ!”
- 2.2 Synod Chatham had continued ecclesiastical fellowship with the RCUS, and mandated the CCCA to speak with their RCUS counterparts on the topics of
- – Lord’s Day observance
- – Fencing of the Lord’s table
- – Lord’s Supper to shut-ins
- – RCUS Church Unity Paper
- – Promotion of our Theological College
- – Promotion of contact between classes
- – Promotion of contact between churches in our respective federations 2.3 The CCCA reports that CanRC delegates have attended the last three RCUS synods.
- 2.4 The CCCA has studied and discussed the seven points mentioned in their mandate:
- 2.2.1 Lord’s Day observance: Though there remain differences in history and practice, the RCUS honours the Lord’s Day. “The committee is of the opinion that the matter of Lord’s Day observance has been addressed sufficiently. It takes note of positive developments and sees no reason to pursue specific issues further.”
- 2.2.2 Fencing of the Lord’s table: “It is clear that the practice of the RCUS in regard to admission to the Lord’s Supper is not identical to ours. The brothers are aware of the need to maintain the sanctity of the celebration with regard to their own members and guests from outside their church and are endeavouring to do this. The committee has voiced its position and notes that the brothers are also open to reflection on our input in regard to this matter.” The CCCA recommends that synod consider this topic to be sufficiently discussed.
- 2.2.3 Lord’s Supper to shut-ins: after supplying a lengthy discussion as to what Scripture, history and Church Order may teach on the subject, the CCCA concludes, “Given the fact that the RCUS maintains that the sacrament is indeed a sacrament of the church and that they ensure that even in a ‘home’ setting the character of this sacrament is preserved, our committee does not see the need to pursue this further.”
- 2.2.4 RCUS Church Unity Paper: CCCA members have spoken with their counterparts on the topic, and report positive direction in regard to the Church Unity Paper.
- 2.2.5 Theological College: the CCCA has taken up contact with the proper authorities at the Theological College to advertise our College in RCUS circles. “The committee considers that its mandate concerning the Theological College has been fulfilled.”
- 2.2.6 Promotion of contact between classes: the CCCA reports that this has been done.
- 2.2.7 Promotion of contact between churches in our respective federations: the CCCA reports that this has been done.
- 2.5 On other matters relevant to our relations with the RCUS, the CCCA reports that:
- 2.5.1 The RCUS now has fraternal relations with the URCNA (Phase 2), but without entering into extensive unity discussions at this time.
- 2.5.2 The RCUS has taken a firm stand rejecting the teachings of Rev. Norman Shepherd, and would like to know the CanRC position on this matter. The CCCA comments that we need simply to keep to the confessions and make no statements beyond them. The RCUS has also officially warned against the New Perspectives of Paul Theology.
- 2.6 The CCCA recommends that synod decide:
- 2.6.1 To express gratitude to the Lord for the positive developments within our contacts with the RCUS.
- 2.6.2 To conclude that the matter of Lord’s Day observance has been addressed sufficiently.
- 2.6.3 To take note of the discussions concerning admission to the Lord’s Supper and conclude that the matter has been addressed sufficiently.
- 2.6.4 To take note of the explanation given by the RCUS and the CCCA concerning the administration of the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins and conclude that the matter has been addressed sufficiently.
- 2.6.5 To await a further report from the CCCA on the RCUS Church Unity Paper.
- 2.6.6 To consider the mandate in regard to the Theological College and the report on theological education fulfilled.
- 2.6.7 To thank the committee for its work in fulfilling its mandate re the RCUS.
- 2.6.8 To continue the Relationship of Ecclesiastical Fellowship with the RCUS under the adopted rules.
- 2.7 Carman East writes a detailed submission interacting with the CCCA’s material on Lord’s Supper celebration for shut-ins. They request synod to instruct the committee “to further dialogue with the RCUS about their practice in light of the confession of having both sacraments administered within the congregation (Belgic Confession Art. 35 and Lord’s Day 27, Q/A 74) as well as in light of the concern that the sacraments not be elevated above the preached Word (Lord’s Day 25, Q/A 65).”
- 2.8 Elora recommends “continuing the discussions with RCUS on fencing the Lord’s table and confession al membership, so that we might come to mutually agreed conclusions, especially since they are still open to our input into these matters.”
- 2.9 Fergus Maranatha feels that we should continue to pursue the matter of the Lord’s Day observance. Fergus argues that if we leave the matter as is, we “may give to our own churches the impression that having two worship services is not so important.”
- 2.10 London is concerned that the topics Chatham mandated the CCCA to investigate (see Obs. 2.2) “do not disappear off the radar.” Consequently, London recommends that the CCCA “be given the mandate to monitor these points.”
- 2.11 Yarrow recommends that synod instruct the CCCA to continue to discuss and study the topics of Lord’s Day observance and fencing of the Lord’s table with the RCUS. Yarrow notes that under the Rules for Ecclesiastical Fellowship there is both room and need to continue to assist each other in understanding better the will of God in these matters.
- 3.1 The CCCA has addressed the topics mandated to them by Synod Chatham, and requests that synod consider their work complete in relation to each topic. The churches that wrote to synod about the RCUS request that the topics not yet be considered closed.
- 3.2 It is not necessary to state that discussion on particular topics is completed. In the dynamic of church life, opportunities to speak about differences between our federations will remain beneficial.
- 3.3 As churches in ecclesiastical fellowship, we are obliged to “assist each other in the maintenance, defence and promotion of the Reformed faith in doctrine, church polity, discipline, and liturgy, and to be watchful for deviation” (Rule 1). As the CCCA carries out the CanRC’s responsibility towards the RCUS according to this rule, attention can continue to be given to the topics mentioned by the churches when necessary and appropriate.
- 4.1 To thank the CCCA for its work in our contact with the RCUS.
- 4.2 To continue the Relationship of Ecclesiastical Fellowship with the RCUS under the adopted rules. As the CCCA fulfils its mandate according to these rules, matters of concern raised by the churches (see Obs. 2.7-2.11) may continue to be raised when appropriate.
- 4.3 To endeavour to meet with the RCUS Interchurch Relations Committee at least once a year.
A letter of greeting from the Interchurch Relations Committee of the RCUS was read.