26 Aug GS 2007 art 66
GS 2007 Article 66 – Reformed Churches of New Zealand (RCNZ)
The advisory committee presented its proposal. After some discussion it was moved and seconded to delete from Consideration 4.2:
He explained that with respect to the matter of women in office in the CRCAus, this involves women being ordained as deacons only. At this point, the CRCAus limits women in the office of deacon. It has specified that churches that have women deacons should not allow them to be part of the ruling body of the church.
The amendment was defeated.
It was moved and seconded to delete from Consideration 4.4:
The RCNZ have adopted the Westminster Confession of Faith beside the Three Forms of Unity. The observer from the RCNZ stated that the latter are more prominent in usage. The polity is continental. This amendment was also defeated.
- 1.1 CRCA Report 9
- 1.2-17 Letters from the following sixteen churches:
- Willoughby Heights, Spring Creek, Surrey, Owen Sound, Chilliwack, Ottawa, London, Coaldale, Chatham, Grand Rapids, Edmonton Immanuel, Lincoln, Fergus North, Lynden, Carman East, Burlington Ebenezer
- 2.1 All submissions are admissible.
- 3.1 Section 9 of the CRCA Report re the RCNZ serves as observation.
- 3.2 The CRCA recommends in 9.5:
- 3.2.1 [9.5.1] That Synod recognize that the RCNZ is a faithful church of God and accept the invitation of the RCNZ to enter into sister church relations according to the established rules.
- 3.2.2 [9.5.2] That Synod mandate the CRCA to:
- 22.214.171.124 [126.96.36.199] Communicate to the RCNZ Synod’s decision under 9.5.1.
- 188.8.131.52 [184.108.40.206] Visit the next Synod of the RCNZ in order to formalize relations and visit the churches.
- 3.3 Willoughby Heights states: “If it becomes the CanRC position to acquiesce with the desires of its CRCA to merely apprise ourselves of differences in other federations but not to encourage them in Scriptural obedience as we have learned it by God’s grace over our history, then we ought not to enter into EF with the RCNZ with the promise to do as our sister churches in Australia (FRCA) ask of us.”
- 3.4 Spring Creek overtures not to enter into ecclesiastical fellowship with the RCNZ because they cannot see how this would be a “meaningful relationship.” Should synod decide to enter into ecclesiastical fellowship, they overture synod to include in the mandate of the CRCA that the CRCA “encourage the RCNZ to take seriously and act upon the FRCA’s concerns and objections about… the RCNZ’s relationship with the Christian Reformed Church in Australia.”
- 3.5 Surrey wonders whether it is meaningful to establish a relationship with the RCNZ given the limited resources we have.
- 3.6 Owen Sound wonders whether it is premature to enter into Ecclesiastical Fellowship because the relationship with the Christian Reformed Churches of Australia has not been clarified.
- 3.7 Chilliwack implies the CRCA is inconsistent in recommending that we do not enter into ecclesiastical fellowship with the PCEA because the FRCA do not recognize them, yet recommending to recognize the RCNZ while the FRCA also does not recognize them.
- 3.8 Ottawa agrees with the CRCA, but thinks the point of contact with the Christian Reformed Churches of Australia should be emphasized.
- 3.9 London, Coaldale, Grand Rapids, Carman East and Lincoln think it is premature to enter into ecclesiastical fellowship with the RCNZ. They should first terminate their contact with the CRC of Australia. This approach would be consistent with the way the OPC was treated.
- 3.10 Chatham asks synod not to proceed with ecclesiastical fellowship till the FRCA have achieved that relationship with the RCNZ.
- 3.11 Edmonton Immanuel request that synod not enter into ecclesiastical fellowship with the RCNZ based on the “good principle that we allow the sister churches in various parts of the world to do their work as it pertains to the churches in their region.” Since the FRCA has not come to ecclesiastical fellowship, the CanRC should wait for them. The church at Fergus North has a similar sentiment.
- 3.12 Lynden cautions entering into ecclesiastical Fellowship with the RCNZ because “it is not clear how… ecclesiastical fellowship with the Reformed Churches of New Zealand is necessary or how it would benefit us.”
- 3.13 Burlington Ebenezer draws attention to the fact the CRCAus allows women in office and suggests we follow the example of the FRCA and see how the RCNZ deals with the matter.
- 3.14 According to Rule 3 for Ecclesiastical Fellowship, the advisory committee consulted with the delegates from the GKN and the OPC, both of whom have ecclesiastical fellowship with the RCNZ, and the observer from the RCNZ. According to Rule 7 for Ecclesiastical Fellowship, delegates have the privilege of participating in the deliberations of synod.
- 4.1 There is evidence that the CRCA contacted the FRCA but there is no evidence they consulted with the BBK of the GKN nor the CEIR of the OPC (Rule 3). This is regrettable. The delegates from the GKN and the OPC testify to the good relationship they have with the RCNZ and can endorse the recommendation of the CRCA.
- 4.2 With respect to the concern that the FRCA have not been able to enter into ecclesiastical fellowship with the RCNZ because the RCNZ still have contact with the Christian Reformed Churches of Australia, it should be noted that the FRCA did not see this as a problem. They spelled out that this prevented them from entering into ecclesiastical fellowship because it “presents a problem of triangular relations within Australia” (Report 9.4). The FRCA specifically stated: “we don’t believe we can extend that beyond one’s own country.” They simply request that upon entering ecclesiastical fellowship with the RCNZ, synod “encourage the RCNZ to take seriously and act upon the FRCA’s concerns and objections about the deformation in the CRCAus.” In his address to synod, the Rev. Bruce Hoyt, the observer from the RCNZ, offered the assurance that they do take seriously the concerns about the CRCAus and work with the concerns expressed by sister churches. He explained that with respect to the matter of women in office in the CRCAus, this involves women being ordained as deacons only. At this point, the CRCAus limits women to the office of deacon. It has specified that churches that have women deacons should not allow them to be part of the ruling body of the church. As an indication of their concern about the developments in the CRCAus, the synod of the RCNZ has put the relationship “under strain.”
- 4.3 To enter into ecclesiastical fellowship with the attitude that we must “encourage [the RCNZ] in Scriptural obedience as we have learned it by God’s grace over our history” (Obs. 3.3) could imply that the RCNZ is not faithful and that the Lord’s working in our history is the measure for evaluating other churches. The CRCA reports and the FRCA, the GKN, and the OPC confirm that the RCNZ is a faithful Reformed Church. Ecclesiastical fellowship is a relationship of equals before the Lord.
- 4.4 With respect to the meaningfulness of the relationship, it should be considered that Canadian Reformed Churches have vested interest in the region of South East Asia. The Church at Toronto is involved in mission work in Papua New Guinea, with the cooperation of the RCNZ. Further, the RCNZ already has had contact with churches in West Timor, where the church at Smithville is involved in mission work. Contact will enhance the opportunities for cooperation in mission. Further, it should be kept in mind that the RCNZ is rooted in the same historic continental tradition as the CanRC. The RCNZ have adopted the Westminster Confession of Faith beside the Three Forms of Unity. The observer from the RCNZ stated that the latter are more prominent in usage. The polity is continental. The OPC delegates testified that the relationship between the OPC and the RCNZ has been mutually beneficial.
- 5.1 To recognize that the RCNZ is a faithful church of God and accept the invitation of the RCNZ to enter into a Relationship of Ecclesiastical Fellowship according to the established rules.
- 5.2 To write a letter addressed to the next synod of the RCNZ communicating this decision and including the request that the RCNZ take note of and take seriously the concerns of the FRCA regarding the CRCAustralia.
- 5.3 To send a delegate (delegation) to the next synod of the RCNZ in order to present this letter to formalize relations and visit the churches.
The chairman addressed Rev. Hoyt and expressed thankfulness that we could enter into ecclesiastical fellowship with the RCNZ. The meeting sang Hymn 40:1 and Rev. Nederveen led in a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord.