GS 2010 art 170

GS 2010 Article 170 – Appeal from br. H. Voorhorst re: A Decision of Regional Synod West 2009

1.         Material

Letter from Br H. Voorhorst dated May 11 2010 (8.5.y).

2.         Observations

  • 2.1       On Sept. 24, 2007, the Cloverdale consistory decided to “introduce the revised versification of the Genevan Psalms into the worship services as they become available.” Brother Voorhorst appealed this decision at Classis Pacific West October 7, 2008. His appeal was denied, and he subsequently appealed the matter at Regional Synod West, November 3, 2009, where his appeal was again denied. He now appeals this decision of RSW November 3, 2009.
  • 2.2       Several Considerations of RSW which provided the grounds for the denial of the brother’s appeal are:
    • 2.2.1 “Br. Voorhorst is working with a strict and literal interpretation of Article 55 of the Church Order. However, it is important not to separate the words of Article 55 from its intent.”
    • 2.2.2 “Understood in the context of past practice, it is fair to assume that ‘soliciting input’ could involve testing in public worship.”
    • 2.2.3 “Close analysis shows that there is no significant difference between the Church Order prior to and after 1983.” “Both the older Article 69 and the present Article 55 clearly limit the churches singing to synodically adopted songs.”
  • 2.3        The brother points out that CO Article 55 about Psalms and Hymns clearly states: “The metrical Psalms adopted by general synod as well as the Hymns approved by general synod shall be sung in the worship services.”
  • 2.4        Br. Voorhorst states that “rather than take Article 55 of the CO literally, Regional Synod West took it upon itself to redefine the article when it stated that ‘The intent of this article is to prevent independentism in the worship services of the local churches of the confederation.’” He further asserts that “It’s no longer enough to prove that a decision is in conflict with the Church Order, one must also prove that it’s in conflict with the intent of said Article.” He adds that such an intent is fluid and hard to prove or disprove.
  • 2.5        Finally, the brother quotes Article 76 CO where it states that churches “shall endeavour diligently to observe the Articles of the Church Order as long as they have not been changed by a general synod.” He believes that churches are bound therefore to maintain what they have agreed upon (Matt.5:37, Eccl.5:2-6, Deut.23:21-23, Num.30).

3.         Considerations

  • 3.1        R SW November 3, 2009 stated in its first consideration that the intent of Article 55 is to prevent independentism and that this means that “the churches have agreed that they will not introduce into worship songs chosen by themselves at a local level. Using versification produced by the Standing Committee for the Book of Praise as mandated by General Synod does not constitute independentism.” We agree that this matter is not just about the exact wording of Article 55, but also about how it is applied.
  • 3.2        Synod Smithers mandated the SCBP (Article 148):
    • [4.1.1] To initiate a thorough review of all 150 Psalms in the 1984 text of Anglo-Genevan Psalter in the Book of Praise.
    • [4.1.2] To prepare and present an updated psalm section in the anticipation of being included in the common songbook.
    • [4.1.4] To solicit input from the churches at all stages of the process.
    • [4.1.5] To publish revised and updated psalm versions as they become available on a website linked to the official website of the Canadian Reformed Churches (
    •  [4.1.6] To report to General Synod 2010 on the progress of the work..
  • 3.3         The above shows that the instructions of Synod 2007 concerning the Psalms did not involve completely new songs, but was a Synodmandated revision and updating of the existing versification of the Psalter as already adopted by Synod 1983.
  • 3.4        This is why Synod 2007 did not make a specific decision to have the revised Psalms sung in the worship services, but only about provisionally adopting the 28 new hymns.
  • 3.5        RSW therefore did not err in its decision.

4.          Recommendation

That Synod decide to deny the appeal of brother Voorhorst.