17 Aug GS 2010 art 155
GS 2010 Article 155 – Reformed Churches – Restored (RCR)
- 1.1 Report from the CRCA re: the RCR (8.2 m).
- 1.2 Overtures from the churches of Edmonton-Immanuel (8.3.M.11) and Fergus-Maranatha (8.3.M.20).
- 2.1 The report of the CRCA regarding the RCR is as follows: “Synod 2007 decided not to accept the request of the RCR to acknowledge them as sister churches. Synod also decided to admonish the RCR in a brotherly manner for its unlawful separation. In accordance with the instruction of Synod, a letter of admonishment was sent in June 2007. Since that time, there has been no response from the RCR.
- The CRCA did receive a copy of a new publication entitled Continua (Vol. I, January 2009). This publication contains part 1 of a projected four part series critiquing the decision of Synod 2007 not to enter into ecclesiastical fellowship with the RCR.”
- 2.2 The CRCA gives no recommendations to Synod regarding the RCR.
- 2.3 Since Synod Smithers 2007, some congregations have left the RCR.
- 2.4 Edmonton-Immanuel recommends that Synod Burlington-Ebenezer 2010 decide:
- [1.] To renew contact with the RCR;
- [2.] To acknowledge the RCR desire to remain faithful;
- [3.] To remain informed about the development in the RCR;
- [4.] To encourage the RCR to discuss the issues and struggles of concern with the RCN in humility and love;
- [5.] To make a recommendation to Synod 2013 that the RCR be recognized as a sister church.
- 2.5 Edmonton-Immanuel comes to these recommendations in light of the following considerations:
- 2.5.1 In light of how the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands continue to occupy a unique place in the life and history of the Canadian Reformed Churches the CRCA should have contacted the RCR and discussed its lack of response to the letter of admonition and the RCR’s critique of the decision of Synod Smithers to not enter into ecclesiastical fellowship with the RCR.
- 2.5.2 Synod Legana of the Free Reformed Churches of Australia (FRCA) decided the following with respect to the RCR:
- a) To acknowledge the RCR desire to remain reformed.
- b) To remain informed about the development in the RCR.
- c) To continue contact and encourage the RCR to discuss the issues and struggles of concern with the RCN in humility and love (p. 91 of the decisions of Synod Legana 2009).
- 2.5.3 CanRC concerns regarding the RCN, as shared by the FRCA and the RCR, continue and increase.
- 2.6 Fergus-Maranatha recommends that Synod Burlington-Ebenezer 2010 decide:
- 2.6.1 To express regret over the lack of effort taken to encourage reconciliation between the RCN and RCR;
- 2.6.2 To mandate the CRCA to have face-to-face meetings with the RCR to understand their documented concerns and provide a documented response;
- 2.6.3 To rescind the decision of Synod 2007 to declare the RCR schismatic.
- 2.7 Fergus-Maranatha comes to these recommendations in light of the following considerations:
- 2.7.1 The CRCA report gives no evidence that the mandate of Synod Smithers 2007 to “seek ways to facilitate reconciliation between the RCN and RCR” was fulfilled, and the CRCA does not recommend to renew this mandate.
- 2.7.2 The CRCA did not respond in detail to the documentation submitted by the RCR to Synod Smithers 2007.
- 2.7.3 Just as the decision by Synod 2007 not to maintain ecclesiastical fellowship with the Free Church of Scotland Continuing (FCC) hindered reconciliation efforts with the Free Church of Scotland (FCS), the decision to declare the RCR schismatic can certainly be expected to hinder efforts towards reconciliation with the RCN.
- 2.7.4 The CRCA report indicates that it is difficult to gain a clear perspective on how the decisions of synod are being implemented in the RCN. By more diligently investigating the concerns raised by the RCR about the RCN, the CRCA may be able to engage in real dialogue with the RCN on the outstanding matters.
- 2.7.5 Synod 2007 should have had face-to-face contact with representatives of the RCR prior to declaring the church schismatic. Discipline allows time for a party to explain their actions and react to instruction or admonishment.
- 3.1 The report of the CRCA is indeed very brief. In light of the mandate of Synod Smithers 2007 not only to refuse ecclesiastical fellowship with the RCR, but also to admonish the RCR in a brotherly manner for its unlawful separation, one could have expected the CRCA to have pursued contact also after it became apparent that no response to the letter of admonition was forthcoming. If the committee in fact did so, this action did not get reported. In any case efforts should continue to facilitate reconciliation between the RCR and RCN as mandated by Synod Smithers 2007.
- 3.2 The CRCA has received the first part of a four part series critiquing the decision of Synod 2007 not to enter into ecclesiastical fellowship with the RCR. It is not clear if this is an official response from the RCR. If it is, then hopefully a response can be composed and there can yet be dialogue with the RCR on this matter.
- 3.3 Given how the RCR has arisen in connection with developments in the RCN, it would be prudent at this time to entrust the new temporary sub-committee of the CRCA also with the matter of contact with the RCR.
- 3.4 To acknowledge the RCR’s desire to remain faithful and to speak of entering ecclesiastical fellowship with the RCR would at this time be premature in light of the decision of Synod Smithers regarding the RCR (Synod Smithers, Article 143), and in light of fragmentation occurring in the RCR.
- 3.5 It would be prudent to monitor developments in the RCR in close consultation with other sister churches that are also seeking to help. 3.6 While there are points of comparison between the schism in Scotland and the schism in the Netherlands, there are also significant differences. Most importantly, the RCR clearly indicated that it saw the RCN as a false church. Fergus-Maranatha’s assertion that “the decision to declare the RCR schismatic can certainly be expected to hinder efforts towards reconciliation with the RCN” assumes that Synod Smithers 2007 erred in its decision to declare the RCR schismatic. Fergus-Maranatha, therefore, should have appealed Article 143 of Synod Smithers.
That Synod decide:
- 4.1 To give the matter of contact with the RCR to the responsibility of the temporary sub-committee of the CRCA to deal with the RCN.
- 4.2 To mandate this sub-committee of the CRCA:
- 4.2.1 To dialogue with the RCR in order to come to a comprehensive understanding of their concerns and actions.
- 4.2.2 To continue to seek ways to facilitate reconciliation between the RCR and RCN.
- 4.2.3 To do all this in close contact with the FRCA and the OPC.
- 4.2.4 To submit a comprehensive report of its activities to the churches six months prior to the next general synod.