GS 2010 art 107

GS 2010 Article 107 – Appeal from Kerwood re: Article 143 of Synod Smithers 2007

1.         Material

Appeal from the Church of Kerwood (8.5.x).

2.         Observations

  • 2.1       The CRCA in its report to Synod Smithers 2007 (Acts, Article 143, paragraph 3.2) recommended that Synod 2007:
    • []           Express sadness over the schism in the RCN which began in 2003.
    • []           Urge the federation to pray for the restoration of unity between the Reformed Churches – Restored (RCR) [1] and the RCN.
    • []           Not accept the RCR request to acknowledge these churches as sister churches.
    • []           Mandate the CRCA to communicate,, and to the Deputies BBK of the RCR and maintain contact with them.
  • 2.2       Synod Smithers 2007 adopted the following Considerations (Article 143 of the Acts):
    • [4.1]     It is true that the CRCA does not give details in their report lead ing to their conclusions. However, all the issues raised by the RCR, as listed at 3.5, have had the attention of the CRCA over the years. The CRCA has been aware of the critiques of the decis ions and studied them (see Acts of previous synods and the most recent CRCA Report). They have been able to conclude that the RCN has remained faithful. The documents provided by the RCR did not lead the CRCA to change their assessment as presented in their Report (see Addendum). In this respect, it is good to refer to the comment of the CRCA in which they express concern that “the RCR is in danger of not carefully examining what has actually been decided by RCN Synod” (p. 66).
    • [4.2]     The RCR clearly indicates that they consider the RCN a false church. This shows in the way that they consider themselves the “lawful continuation of the Reformed Churches in the Nether lands” (Report 5.6.4). Further, they are unwilling to consider reco nciliation unless the RCN would see “the need to return to the Scriptures, Confession and Church Order” (Report 5.6.5). For this reason, synod agrees with the CRCA when it speaks of the separ ation that occurred as “schism.” The CRCA should be instructed to admonish the RCR in a brotherly manner on this matter as this action is not scripturally valid according to Belgic Confession Ar ticle 28 where we confess that “all therefore who draw away from the church or fail to join it act contrary to the ordinance of God.” At the same time, the CRCA should continue to look for ways to facilitate reconciliation.
  • 2.3       Synod Smithers 2007 adopted the following Recommendations (Article 143 of the Acts):
    • [5.1]     To express sadness over the separation in the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (RCN) that began in 2003.
    • [5.2]     Not to accept the RCR’s request to acknowledge these churches as sister churches.
    • [5.3]     To urge the churches to pray for the restoration of unity between the RCR and RCN.
    • [5.4]     To mandate the CRCA:
      • [5.4.1] To admonish the RCR in a brotherly manner for its unlawful separation as outlined in Consideration 4.2 (see in Observation 2.2 above).
      • [5.4.2] To communicate 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 to the Deputies BBK of the RCR and to continue to seek ways to facilitate reconcili ation between the RCR and RCN.
  • 2.4       Kerwood appeals the decision to Synod Smithers to admonish the RCR (Article 143, 5.4.1), and recommends that Synod Burlington-Ebenezer 2010 “apologize to the RCR for our hasty judgment and invite them to our synods from this point forward to continue our discussion with them, in order to gain greater understanding and make honest judgments.”
  • 2.5       In support of this appeal Kerwood gives the following considerations:
    • [1.]          Many of the concerns that have been raised here in Canada concerning the RCN have also been raised by the RCR and yet at synod level we judge the RCR divisive without due consideration of local circumstances.
    • [2.]          How can we make strong judgments on the RCR, calling them schismatic, while making no judgments about the RCN and its path of decline?
    • [3.]          In the process of the separation of local RCR churches there may have been sin involved, but can the sin of those that left be greater than those in the RCN that are not reprimanded? Can we call those to repentance who have locally used all means possible for a period of 5-10 years to appeal and change the direction of the churches?
    • [4.]          It is always a difficult question what is too early to step out and some freedom must be given here. The RCR shows a clear desire to uphold the Truth of the Word of God and the Three Forms of Unity and felt they needed to ‘come out from her and be separate.’
    • [5.]          If in the future it becomes even more clear to us that the RCN has fully deviated from Scripture and the Confessions, we may be seeking a relationship with the RCR over time, while at this moment we criticize them of being too hasty and too extreme.
    • [6.]          We can learn from the Free Reformed Churches in Australia who took a much more balanced approach to their relationship with the RCN and RCR,because they did not want to be hasty in laying judgment.

3.         Considerations

  • 3.1       It is true that the RCR has raised similar concerns as the CanRC regarding the RCN. In and of itself, however, this does not justify the RCR’s judgment of the RCN as a false church (cf. Synod Smithers, Article 143, Consideration 4.2). Kerwood itself agrees that on the part of the RCR there may have been sin involved.
  • 3.2       Contrary to Kerwood, Synod Smithers had made judgments regarding the RCN, concluding that in spite of concerning developments it had remained faithful (Synod Smithers, Article 143, Consideration 4.1).
  • 3.2       It is true, particularly given the rise of concerning developments in the RCN, that one could question whether Synod Smithers was perhaps too hasty in deciding not only to deny the request of the RCR for EF (as per the original recommendation of the CRCA), but even to proceed with admonishing the RCR. It is also true that other churches with which we maintain EF did not proceed in this way. Synod Smithers, however, felt that such a judgment call was warranted given how it had concluded that the RCN at that time, in spite of concerning developments that needed addressing, had remained faithful. Meanwhile the RCR had indicated that it deemed the RCN to be false. Kerwood does not prove this judgment call of Synod Smithers to be wrong.

4.         Recommendation

That Synod decide to deny the appeal of Kerwood.


[1] The Reformed Churches – Restored (RCR), known in Dutch as the Gereformeerde Kerken [hersteld]. This group of churches was formed in 2003 and 2004. In quotes from various documents, the Dutch name is abbreviated by the initials of the English equivalent: RCR.