GS 2010 art 156

GS 2010 Article 156 – ICRC

1.         Material

Report from the CRCA re: ICRC (Agenda 8.2.m).

2.         Observations

  • 2.1        Synod Smithers 2007 (Article 132, Recommendation 4.3) decided:
    • [4.3.1] To continue the participation of the Canadian Reformed Churches in the ICRC and send two voting delegates and two advisory members to New Zealand in 2009.
    • [4.3.2] To convey synod’s decision on Article IV.1.a. of the Constitution to the corresponding secretary of the ICRC.
    • [4.3.3] To use the opportunities presented at the conference to interact with and gather information from delegates of other churches.
    • [4.3.4] To submit a report of the 2009 ICRC to the next synod with an evaluation and recommendations.
  • 2.2        In October 2009 a conference was held at Christchurch, New Zealand under the theme, “The Vitality of the Reformed Faith.” The Reformed Churches of New Zealand very hospitably hosted this conference.
  • 2.3        Given the convenience of this venue for arranging many meetings with sister churches from around the world, the CRCA did not ask two professors from the Theological College to attend this time. Instead it ensured that the delegation of four consisted entirely from CRCA members. Unfortunately only three were able to attend since one of the delegates became sick.
  • 2.4        Highlights from the conference:
    • 2.4.1     Four very worthwhile presentations were made.
    • 2.4.2     Five more churches became members: the Reformed Churches of Brazil, the Heritage Reformed Congregations, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of India, the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), the Independent Church in Korea. This brings the total membership to 30. The membership of the Reformed Churches of Brazil was sponsored by the CRCA. At the previous conference the FCC was denied membership in the ICRC since it had initiated legal action against the Free Church of Scotland (FCS), but this legal action had ceased and the FCS was not opposed to the FCC becoming a member.
    • 2.4.5     The conference, upon recommendation from the CRCA and without any dissenting voice, appointed a committee to review all aspects of the Conference. The CRCA decided to make this proposal since in its view the ICRC will soon have been in existence for 25 years. This marks an opportune time to assess whether or not the ICRC has lived up to its potential, and to improve the usefulness of the Conference. Two members of the CRCA, Dr. John Vanderstoep and Dr. James Visscher were appointed to this eight member committee, and Dr. Visscher was appointed its chairman.
    • 2.4.6     An extensive report on the mission activities of the member churches was received. The CRCA intends to make this report available to all our mission sending and supporting churches. It cannot be made generally available since a part of the report is confidential in nature. The report recommended calling a meeting of representatives of the world mission agencies of the ICRC member churches to exchange information and explore ways for possible multilateral cooperation. It recommended the gathering of information on short term theological teachers to promote awareness regarding existing resources. The report also highlighted that regional mission conferences were held in various parts of the world except North America. The CRCA finds this regrettable: “there is much to discuss from missions to theology, from diaconal aid to theological education.”
    • 2.4.7     Regarding the proposed change of Article IV.1.a of the constitution, procedural difficulties led the Conference to refer the matter to the Review Committee for further study and recommendation. As per the instruction of Synod Smithers 2007, the CRCA delegates voted against the amendment.
    • 2.4.8     Rev. Cornelius VanSpronsen was re-appointed as the Corresponding Secretary, and br. Henk Berends was reappointed as the Treasurer.
    • 2.4.9     The Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales was appointed to host the next conference in September 2013 in Cardiff, Wales.
    • 2.4.10 The Conference clearly manifested the catholic character of the Church of our Lord.
  • 2.5        While attending the ICRC at Christchurch, members of the CRCA met with delegates from the Calvinist Reformed Churches in Indonesia (CRCI), the Reformed Churches of India, the FCS, the FCC, the Independent Reformed Church in Korea (IRCK), the Presbyterian Church in Korea (PCK), and the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (RCN). The CRCA plans to recommend that more time be made available at future conferences for this purpose. Informal contacts were had with delegates from nearly all the member churches.
  • 2.6        The CRCA found the conference very worthwhile to attend. It states that the benefits for the Canadian Reformed Churches are increasing: “Our churches are becoming more and more active in the area of missions and we are convinced that the help, advice and assistance of other member churches will prove invaluable for us in the future.”
  • 2.7        The CRCA highlights that neither the FRCA nor the ERQ are members of the ICRC, and urge Synod Burlington-Ebenezer to go on record as encouraging these churches either to re-join (FRCA) or join (ERQ) at this time, given how all the decisions of the ICRC are advisory, how we are small churches in a large world, how we need each other’s prayers, counsel, and resources, and how the Conference serves as one way to spread the Reformed faith.
  • 2.8        The CRCA recommends that Synod Burlington-Ebenezer 2010 decide:
    • [1.]          To continue the membership of the Canadian Reformed Churches in the International Conference of Reformed Churches.
    • [2.]          To instruct the CRCA to send a delegation to the next Conference scheduled to meet, the Lord willing, in Cardiff, Wales in 2013.
    • [3.]          To seek ways to organize regular regional conferences of the ICRC members in North America, doing this, if possible, in co-operation with the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC).
    • [4.]          To encourage both the Free Reformed Churches in Australia and the Reformed Churches in Quebec to apply for membership in the ICRC.

3.          Considerations

  • 3.1        We may note with gratitude that the ICRC was able to have another worthwhile conference and to serve as a good venue for meetings/contacts with many other Reformed Churches around the world.
  • 3.2        That the committee sent a full delegation of its members to the conference was prudent.
  • 3.3        We may note with gratitude that the federation of Reformed Churches of Brazil now also has membership in the ICRC.
  • 3.4        The CRCA’s recommendation that the ICRC undergo a review appears to have been warranted, given how its recommendation was adopted without opposition from any of the member churches. Hopefully this review will serve to make the ICRC more beneficial to the churches.
  • 3.5        Regarding the lack of regional ICRC mission conferences in North America, it should be kept in mind that NAPARC meetings are also held.
  • 3.6        Regarding Article IV.1.a of the Constitution, no further action is needed until the review committee comes with recommendations.
  • 3.7        Though it would be desirable from our perspective to have the FRCA and the ERQ as member churches of the ICRC, to go on record as encouraging this could come across as insensitive to both the FRCA and the ERQ. The FRCA had its own reasons for leaving the ICRC and the ERQ is a very small federation with limited resources.

4.         Recommendation

That Synod decide:

  • 4.1       To thank the CRCA for all its work.
  • 4.2       To mandate the committee to:
    • 4.2.1     Continue the membership of the CanRC in the ICRC.
    • 4.2.2     Instruct the CRCA to send a delegation to the next Conference scheduled to meet in Cardiff, Wales, in 2013.