17 Aug GS 2010 art 154
GS 2010 Article 154 – Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ)
- 1.1 Report from the CRCA re: RCNZ (8.2.m).
- 1.2 Letters from Fergus-Maranatha (8.2 m.14), London (8.2.m.30), and Lincoln (8.2.m.36).
- 2.1 Synod Smithers, 2007 decided (Article 66, Recommendation 5):
- [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 (EF) 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 CRC-Australia.
- [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.
- 2.2 Our CRCA wrote a letter addressed to the 26th Synod of RCNZ communicating the decision of Synod Smithers to enter into a relationship of EF. This letter included a request that the RCNZ take note of and take seriously the concerns of the FRCA regarding the CRC-Australia.
- 2.3 Our CRCA also sent one delegate to the 26th Synod of the RCNZ, held in Hastings.
- 2.4 R egarding the relationship with CRC-Australia, Synod Hastings decided:
- [1.] To continue our sister-church relationship with the CRC-Australia.
- [2.] To continue the meetings between the CER (Committee for Ecumenical Relations) of the CRC-Australia and our IRC (Interchurch Relations Committee).
- [3.] To send two delegates to the next synod of the CRCAustralia.
- 2.5. Regarding the CRC-Australia, Synod Hastings decided: “That Synod convey to the CRC-Australia through the Interchurch Relations Committee that our sister-church relationship continues under strain due to their approval of the practice of ordaining women to the office of deacon.”
- 2.6 Regarding relations with the FRCA Synod Hastings decided:
- [1.] To acknowledge with sadness that we have been unable to make progress towards a sister-church relationship with the FRCA.
- [2.] To inform the FRCA that we cannot accept that our -church relationship with the CRC-Australia should be an impediment to the FRCA accepting our offer.
- [3.] To continue our offer of sister-church relations with the FRCA.
- [4.] To convey these decisions to the FRCA by correspondence.
- [5.] To send a delegate to the next synod of the FRCA.
- 2.7 Regarding theological education, it is clear that the RCNA has less confidence than it previously did in the program of study at the Reformed Theological College in Geelong. For this reason, our CRCA writes that the “CanRC might more explicitly offer the services of the Theological College in Hamilton as a possible alternative for the theological education of the RCNZ students for the ministry.”
- 2.8 Regarding the CanRC, Synod Hastings decided:
- [1.] To express our appreciation to the CanRC for their acceptance of our invitation to enter a sister-church relationship with them.
- [2.] To continue to work closely with the CanRC in connection with the mission work in PNG.
- [3.] To send a delegate to the next synod of the CanRC.
- 2.9 The church at Fergus-Maranatha submits that in observance of Rule 3 of EF, more consideration should have been given to the FRCA and their ongoing dialogue with the RCNZ before entering into EF with the RCNZ. Because of the relationship between the RCNZ and the CRC-Australia, which ordains women as deacons, Fergus considers that EF was premature and should be rescinded.
- 2.10 The church at London submits that the decision to enter into a relationship of EF with RCNZ is inconsistent with the manner in which the OPC was dealt with when they had a relationship with the CRC in North America. London also asks that Synod mandate our CRCA to include in their communications with the RCNZ a “note of encouragement to continue with their admonishments of the CRCAustralia regarding the issue of women in office and consider ending the relationship if there is no progress.”
- 2.11 The church at Lincoln indicates that it agrees with the recommendations of the CRCA in regard to the RCNZ.
- 3.1 The CRCA has been diligent in implementing and maintaining the relationship of EF with the RCNZ.
- 3.2 It is true that the relation between the RCNZ and the CRC-Australia remains a matter of concern as long as the latter churches maintain the practice of ordaining women as deacons. Even though the CRCAustralia does not consider deacons to be part of the session, the Bible does speak of deacons as men in passages such as 1 Tim. 3:8-12. For these reasons, it is important that the CRCA would continue to encourage the RCNZ to break off relations with the CRC-Australia if that federation is unwilling to end the practice of ordaining women as deacons.
- 3.3 It is important to recognize that one cannot equate the CRC-Australia with the CRC-North America. While the CRC-North America has also opened the office of elder to women, the CRC-Australia only allows this in the case of deacons and specifies clearly that the deacons are not part of the ruling body of the church (Acts Smithers 2007, Article 66, Consideration 4.2). Because of the significant differences between these churches, London is incorrect when it says that the establishment of EF with the RCNZ was inconsistent with the manner in which the OPC was dealt with when they had a relationship with the CRC in North America.
That Synod decide:
- 4.1 To continue the relation of EF with the RCNZ under the adopted rules.
- 4.2 To continue to monitor the relation between the RCNZ and the CRC-Australia and encourage the RCNZ to seriously re-evaluate its relationship with the CRC-Australia in light of its continuing practice of ordaining women to the office of deacon.
- 4.3 T o encourage the RCNZ to keep seeking ways to grow closer towards the FRCA.
- 4.4 To invite the RCNZ to become better acquainted with the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary in Hamilton.