27 Oct GS 2007 art 150
GS 2007 Article 150 – Gereja-Gereja Reformasi Calvinis in Nusa Tengarra Timur (GGRC-NTT)
The advisory committee presented its proposal:
- 1.1 CRCA Report 7B
- 1.2-3 Letters from Smithville and Edmonton Immanuel
The report and letters from the churches are admissible.
- 3.1 The report of the CRCA, which is included as an appendix to the Acts, serves as Observations.
- 3.2 The CRCA recommends that:
- 3.2.1 [7.10.1] Synod Smithers delay entering into a sister church relationship until the legal proceedings have been resolved and unqualified support can be obtained for ecclesiastical fellowship from our Australian sister churches.
- 3.2.2 [7.10.2] Synod mandate the committee to maintain close contact with this federation:
- 220.127.116.11 [18.104.22.168] To encourage the GGRC to resolve its dispute with the GGRM.
- 22.214.171.124 [126.96.36.199] To promote efforts towards federative unity with the GGRI.
- 188.8.131.52 [184.108.40.206] To encourage the GGRC to cooperate with the FRCAus, GKN and GGRI in the establishment of joint theological training with the GGRC.
- 3.2.3 Synod encourage our churches to work together in supporting the mission efforts of Smithville and channel support which is needed to clear the way to establish ecclesiastical fellowship with the GGRC.
- 3.3 Smithville informs synod that they have “a mission field in Timor and [have] regular contact with the GGRC through [their] missionary, Rev. Edwer Dethan and through visits of several members of the Mission Board of Smithville to Timor.” Smithville objects to the CRCA’s recommendation 7.10.1 and instead recommends that “Synod decide to enter into a sister church relationship with the GGRC.” Smithville points to Art. 50 CO and to Article 29 of the Belgic Confession to conclude that it is the “task of Synod to judge whether the GGRC are true (‘Reformed’) churches or not, and based on that judgment a decision shall be made regarding a sister church relationship.” According to Smithville, “the only reason to postpone a decision can be that there is not sufficient information to make this judgment.” Pertaining to the specific arguments presented by the CRCA for delaying entering into ecclesiastical fellowship, Smithville counters as follows:
- 3.3.1 Re: Legal proceedings – From Smithville’s close knowledge of the situation they advise synod that these proceedings arise from one minister and his church taking the GGRC to court over a name-change (to the federation) adopted by the GGRC in 2002. Instead of following the ecclesiastical way, they continue to pursue the matter in the courts. Meanwhile, “this minister and his church have in fact left the federation of the GGRC and they go their own ways.” Smithville opines that such a situation is no proper impediment to ecclesiastical fellowship.
- 3.3.2 Re: Unqualified support from the FRCA – Smithville notes that Rule #3 for Ecclesiastical Fellowship mandates consultation with sister churches but not unqualified support from them. They conclude that to do so could even mean that we “ask the Australian churches to lord it over us.” Moreover, Smithville believes the FRCA have implied that the GGRC are true churches when the FRCA encouraged the GGRC to “fully put into practice the unity they already recognize” with the GGRI (Art. 58 III B4, Acts of Synod West Kelmscott, 2006).
- 3.4 Edmonton Immanuel informs synod of their support for Rev. Yonson Dethan in Timor “so that he can give seminars to ministers, office bearers and society leaders about various topics.” Rev. Yonson Dethan is a minister in the GGRC which has ecclesiastical fellowship with the GGRI. Edmonton Immanuel submits that synod should consider how its actions towards the one federation will affect the other. They state that entering into relations with the one and not the other (at the same time) may well have negative ramifications on relations between the Indonesian federations. They plead for a tandem approach where the CanRC would enter into ecclesiastical fellowship with both federations and in that context encourage them to cooperate in joint theological training and work towards federative unity.
- 4.1 While the committee gives an encouraging report about the Reformed character of the GGRC, it is not yet complete. Rule #3 for Ecclesiastical Fellowship mandates our federation to consult with sister churches prior to entering into ecclesiastical fellowship. This has been done with respect to the FRCA but there is no evidence that it has been done with the GKN who presently maintain ecclesiastical fellowship with both the GGRC and GGRI. Rule #3 obligates us to do so before making a final decision on entering into ecclesiastical fellowship with the GGRC. Their input may prove to be quite helpful in gaining clarity into the GGRC and its circumstances.
- 4.2 The need to consult still with the GKN and the other sister churches is highlighted all the more when it is noted that another sister church, the FRCA, have as yet refrained from entering into ecclesiastical fellowship with the GGRC, though they have ecclesiastical fellowship with the GGRI. The CRCA has not reported on the reason for this. This should give us pause before hurrying into ecclesiastical fellowship with the GGRC without all the facts and concerns clearly understood and evaluated by ourselves. The reasons why the FRCA refrains from ecclesiastical fellowship with the GGRC should be probed and evaluated.
- 4.3 Smithville’s point about the legal proceedings and the unqualified support of a sister church being improper impediments to ecclesiastical fellowship is in itself correct. On their own, neither one of these things can be an impediment to ecclesiastical fellowship. Both of these matters, however, only demonstrate that the committee does not yet have clarity on all the pertinent facts surrounding the GGRC and that more consultation is needed with the parties involved and the churches with whom we have fellowship before a decision can be made.
- 4.4 From the information provided by both Edmonton Immanuel and Smithville, it is clear that entering into ecclesiastical fellowship with the GGRC would be quite beneficial for them and, by implication, for the churches which support them in their endeavours in Indonesia. The CRCA should make a concerted effort to work toward this goal using also information that can be garnered from these two churches.
- 5.1 To thank the committee for the work done re the GGRC.
- 5.2 To delay entering into a sister church relationship until:
- 5.2.1 Proper consultation with other churches in ecclesiastical fellowship has taken place according to Rule #3.
- 5.2.2 The reasons why the FRCA have not as yet entered into ecclesiastical fellowship are understood and evaluated.
- 5.2.3 It is clear that there are no obstacles to entering into ecclesiastical fellowship with the GGRC.
- 5.3 To mandate the CRCA to maintain close contact with this federation and:
- 5.3.1 To consult with all sister churches as per Rule #3 bearing in mind Considerations 4.2-4.4 and Recommendation 5.2.
- 5.3.2 To seek clarity into the situation of the GGRC using also information solicited from the churches at Smithville and Edmonton Immanuel.
- 5.3.3 To promote efforts towards federative unity with the GGRI.
- 5.3.4 To encourage the GGRC to cooperate with the FRCA, GKN and GGRI in the establishment of joint theological training.