27 Oct GS 2007 art 156
GS 2007 Article 156 – Overture from Regional Synod East, Nov. 8 & Dec. 7, 2006 re Change to Art. 63 CO
- The advisory committee presented its proposal. It was moved and seconded to change Recommendation 4.1 into Consideration 3.2
- 4.1 That the proposed change to Article 63 of the Church Order suggested by Regional Synod East properly reflects the religious beliefs and practices of the Canadian Reformed Churches. This amendment was defeated.
- 1.1 Letter from Regional Synod East (Nov. 8 & Dec. 7, 2006) with attachments
- 2.1 In response to overtures from Classis Ontario West, June 14, 2006, and Classis Central Ontario, June 9, 2006, Regional Synod East 2006 overtures Synod Smithers to change Article 63 of the Church Order to read (changes italicized):
- The Word of God teaches that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. The consistory shall ensure that the members of the congregation marry only in the Lord, and that the ministers – as authorized by the consistory – solemnize only such marriages as are in accordance with the Word of God.
- The solemnization of a marriage may take place either in a private ceremony or in a public worship service. The adopted Form for Solemnization of Marriage shall be used.”
- 2.2 Regional Synod adopted as grounds, those provided by Classis Ontario West. These grounds are as follows:
- 2.2.1 The recent change to the definition of marriage. The Civil Marriage Act of Canada now defines marriage as “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.”
- 2.2.2 The recognition by both the Supreme Court of Canada as well as at least two provincial governments that there is a potential risk or liability on the part of ministers who refuse to solemnize a same-sex marriage. The relevant laws at both levels state that a refusal to solemnize a same-sex marriage must be based on the fact that such an action is contrary to one’s ‘religious beliefs’ or ‘doctrines, rites, usages or customs.’ In order to demonstrate clearly to a judge or human rights tribunal that solemnizing a same-sex marriage is against the beliefs and practices of the Canadian Reformed Churches a clear definition of marriage in Art. 63 CO is necessary since neither the present Article 63 nor our Form for the Solemnization of Marriage referred to therein do so explicitly. The lack of clarity may make it more difficult for ministers to prove that their objection is contrary to their religious beliefs or the teachings of the church.
- 2.2.3 This change will also assist a church in Ontario, and presumably in other places, in its lawful refusal to allow a ‘sacred place’ to be used for ‘solemnizing a marriage or for an event related to the solemnization of a marriage’ where that marriage is against the beliefs and practices of the church.
- 3.1 In light of the recent judicial developments in Canada regarding the definition of marriage, the overture of Regional Synod East 2006 proves that a change to the Church Order has become necessary.
- 4.1 That the proposed change to Article 63 of the Church Order suggested by Regional Synod East properly reflects the religious beliefs and practices of the Canadian Reformed Churches.
- 4.2 To adopt the proposal of Regional Synod East 2006 to change Article 63 of the Church Order to include the words, “The Word of God teaches that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.”