GS 2007 art 96

GS 2007 Article 96 – Overture from Regional Synod West 2006 re administration of Lord’s Supper to shut-ins.

The advisory committee presented its proposal. After a round of discussion it was moved and seconded to amend the Consideration and Recommendation to read:

Consideration: The Church Order cannot cover every situation that arises and has never included a clause about Lord’s Supper to shut-ins,

Recommendation: Synod decide that there is no need to change the Church Order. The amendment was defeated.

1.      Material

  • 1.1     Overture from Regional Synod West 2006 regarding the administration of Lord’s Supper to shut-ins.

2.      Observations

  • 2.1     Regional Synod West overtures general synod to consider Smithers’ overture and classis’ decision together with regional synod’s considerations regarding the administration of the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins.
  • 2.2     Smithers requests a revision of the Church Order regarding the administration of the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins, because this issue is living in the churches, but is not clearly dealt with in the Church Order.
  • 2.3     Smithers suggests that Articles 56, 60 and 61 of the Church Order be revised as follows:
    • 2.3.1    Article 56: The sacraments shall be administered only under the authority of the consistory, in a public worship service, by a minister of the Word, with the use of the adopted forms. When administering Lord’s Supper to shut-ins, these guidelines shall be maintained as much as possible.
    • 2.3.2    Article 60: The Lord’s Supper shall be celebrated at least once every three months. The regulations concerning the administration of the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins shall be decided upon locally.
    • 2.3.3    Article 61: The consistory shall admit to the Lord’s Supper only those who have made public profession of the Reformed faith and lead a godly life. Members of sister churches shall be admitted on the ground of a good attestation concerning their doctrine and conduct. This same care and caution must be exercised when administering Lord’s Supper to shut-ins.
  • 2.4     Classis Pacific West (October 10-11, 2006) acceded to the request of Smithers and noted that attention should be paid to the first sentence of Article 33 of the Belgic Confession (“We believe that our gracious God, mindful of our insensitivity and weakness, has ordained sacraments to seal His promises to us and to be pledges of His good will and grace towards us”) and the first sentence of the last paragraph of Art. 35 BC (“Finally, we receive this holy sacrament in the congregation of the people of God with humility and reverence as we together commemorate the death of Christ our Saviour.”)
  • 2.5     Regional Synod West (November 14, 2006) observed:
    • 2.5.1    The churches have agreed in Art. 56 CO that “the sacraments shall be administered only… in a public worship service.”
    • 2.5.2    Smithers seeks an amendment to the Church Order to allow space for administering the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins, on the assumption that the CO does not currently allow it.
    • 2.5.3    Smithers has supplied valuable historical data that demonstrates the line of thinking in the past.
    • 2.5.4    Already the churches recognize that the consistory can summon the congregation together in multiple places. This happens when a congregation is too big for one auditorium, or when part of the congregation lives too far away from the majority (socalled house congregations).
  • 2.6     Regional Synod West (November 14, 2006) considered:
    • 2.6.1    It is not the numbers of attendees nor the venue that constitutes a “public worship service,” but the presence of office bearers together with congregation members (the ‘form of the church’).
    • 2.6.2    The current recognition of the form of the church in multiple places can by extension be applied to extraordinary circumstances in the congregation, in the sense that the consistory could have a worship service for those who cannot come to the normal gathering. In principle this does not differ from a consistory calling the congregation together at two times (e.g., because the building is too small, necessitating two services back to back) or calling the congregation together at two locations (e.g., because members live too far apart).
    • 2.6.3    Consistories are responsible for the pastoral care of the members. If in consistory’s judgment a shut-in member requires the encouragement contained in the Lord’s Supper, consistory ought to do what it can to provide that encouragement.
    • 2.6.4    While the administration of the Lord’s Supper does belong to the churches in common, it remains debatable whether or not a revision of certain Church Order articles is needed.
    • 2.6.5    Even if an alteration to the Church Order is not deemed necessary, a decision on the topic by synod may be beneficial for the churches.

3.      Consideration

  • 3.1     Synod takes note of the observations of Regional Synod West 2006 and agrees with the first four considerations of Regional Synod West which means that there is no need for a revision of the Church Order to make the administration of the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins possible.

4.      Recommendation

Synod decide:

  • 4.1     There is no need to make special provisions in the Church Order for the administration of the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins.