GS 2007 art 163

GS 2007 Article 163 – Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America

(RPCNA) The advisory committee presented its second proposal:

1.      Material

  • 1.1     CCCA Report 6
  • 1.2     CCCA supplementary report
  • 1.3-6  Letters from the following four churches: Carman East, Ottawa, Owen Sound, Spring Creek

2.      Observations

  • 2.1     The mandate to CCCA includes responding, if possible and feasible, to specific requests made to attend assemblies, synods, or meetings of other churches in the Americas. The CCCA received an invitation to attend the 2005 Synod of the RPCNA. The CCCA delegated a brother to attend this synod.
  • 2.2     The mandate to CCCA also includes reporting on its findings with suitable recommendations to the next general synod. In connection with reporting on the contact with the RPCNA, the CCCA has made initial study of the RPCNA, through attendance at its 2005 Synod, through study of material gleaned from the internet, through discussions with RPCNA officials at NAPARC and via email, etc. As a result the CCCA has supplied synod with extensive information about the RPCNA.
  • 2.3     The RPCNA maintains that organic union with other churches would involve “commitment to the Westminster Standards and the Testimony of the RP Church as being agreeable to and founded upon the Scriptures.” The CCCA is currently in communication with the RPCNA seeking clarification on various aspects of this Testimony.
  • 2.4     The RPCNA is committed to exclusive psalmody. Our CCCA notes that “this would be an obstacle in the process of pursuing full organic unity.”
  • 2.5     The initial conclusion of the CCCA is that the RPCNA exhibits the marks of the true church as listed in Article 28 of the Belgic Confession.
  • 2.6     The RPCNA is a member of NAPARC, and has established relationships with the RCUS and the URCNA.
  • 2.7     According to the Rules for Ecclesiastical Fellowship, the CCCA has solicited input from the OPC about our growing contact with the RPCNA. The OPC’s many contacts with the RPCNA have been very positive. The OPC recommends that we give attention to the RPCNA’s approach to the Kingship of Christ, the 1643 covenant, and the RPCNA’s view that women can serve as deacons.
  • 2.8     The CCCA recommends that synod decide to mandate the CCCA:
    • 2.8.1    To explore further what we have in common with the RPCNA and to assess if and when a decision can be made regarding ecclesiastical fellowship with this church.
    • 2.8.2    To keep the churches with which ecclesiastical fellowship has already been established informed of all progress made in this regard.
    • 2.8.3    To submit its report to the next general synod.
  • 2.9     Carman East is “in agreement with the basic recommendation of the CCCA but we also wish to express our alarm at the view of the covenant expressed by the RPCNA in their extraconfessional statement known as ‘The Testimony’.” Carman East hopes “Synod will impress this concern upon the CCCA to make it abundantly clear where we stand as a federation of churches.”
  • 2.10   Ottawa supports the committee’s recommendations “to further investigate the possibility of relations with the RPCNA.” The church at Ottawa has had good relations with RP Churches in the Ottawa area. Ottawa’s minister has also attended a presbytery meeting, and reported positively on his observations.
  • 2.11   Owen Sound notes that the “status and content of the Testimony has major implications for any recommendation to enter Ecclesiastical Fellowship with the RCPNA and we would recommend that this be reflected in the mandate given to the Committee.”
  • 2.12   Spring Creek overtures synod to establish ecclesiastical fellowship with the RPCNA. Spring Creek supports this overture with the observation that there are many favourable comments in the CCCA’s report, indicating that the RPCNA is a faithful church at Jesus Christ.

3.      Considerations

  • 3.1     Christ prayed that his followers would be one in faith. It is our duty to observe where the Lord Jesus Christ is busy gathering his church, and unite with those who are obedient to him.
  • 3.2     The initial conclusion of the CCCA is that the RPCNA exhibits the marks of the church. Therefore we are called to consider further whether one can in fact recognize the RPCNA as a church of the Lord, and if Yes, to pursue unity.
  • 3.3     Carman East’s concern and Ottawa’s recommendation are worthy of pursuit. The CCCA should be instructed to study the status and content of the Testimony in the RPCNA, including what it says about the covenant. This demonstrates that Spring Creek’s request to establish ecclesiastical fellowship with the RPCNA is premature.
  • 3.4     The CCCA’s concern about exclusive psalmody ought to be investigated further, as ought their views on ordaining women as deacons.

4.      Recommendation

Synod decide:

  • 4.1     To thank the CCCA for the extensive work they have done in researching the RPCNA.
  • 4.2     To mandate the CCCA:
    • 4.2.1    To confirm whether the marks of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ are evident in the RPCNA.
    • 4.2.2    To explore further whether the matters mentioned in Considerations 3.3 and 3.4 are a hindrance to the establishment of ecclesiastical fellowship.
    • 4.2.3    To submit its report to the next general synod.