17 Aug GS 2010 art 177
GS 2010 Article 177 – Appeal Burlington-Fellowship re: A Decision of Regional Synod East 2008
Appeal from Burlington-Fellowship re: the decision of Regional Synod East 2008, Article 10 (8.5.d).
- 2.1 Burlington-Fellowship appeals the decision of Regional Synod East 2008, Article 10: “Broader assemblies have determined that the issue of women’s voting is a matter of the churches in common and a number of General Synods have admitted the issue to their agendas, evidencing the same.”
- 2.2 Burlington-Fellowship states that this is insufficient ground from which “to conclude that the churches have arrogated to its Synods the exclusive jurisdiction to regulate something left by the Church Order for local regulation.”
- 2.3 Burlington-Fellowship appeals to General Synod to judge that:
- [1.] Regional Synod East 2008, Article 10.1.C is not a valid ground.
- [2.] Article 3 of the Church Order allows local congregations to regulate eligibility standards for participation in election for office bearers.
- [3.] Therefore Regional Synod East 2008 erred in its decision to deny Fellowship’s appeal.
- 3.1 Burlington-Fellowship contests one of the four grounds of Regional Synod East 2008. This particular ground appears to be foundational to the decision of Regional Synod East as it is referred to on several occasions in this decision.
- 3.2 Regional Synod 2008 used a Consideration of Classis Central Ontario, June 13, 2008, referring to the Acts of General Synods 1974, 1977, 1986, 1995, 1998, and 2001 in order to prove “that broader assemblies have determined that the issue of women’s voting is a matter of the churches in common…” Careful scrutiny of these cited Acts of General Synod indicates the following:
- 3.2.1 Acts of General Synod 1974, Article 27, Consideration 2. This is a mistaken reference and Regional Synod East probably meant Article 84, which deals with women voting. Article 84 has no Consideration 2. No determination was made on the question of whether women voting belongs to the churches in common.
- 3.2.2 The Acts of General Synod 1977, Article 27, Consideration 2, supplies an interpretation of Synod 1974: “by not ad article 30 CO refusing to deal with women’s voting rights, Synod 1974 has in fact admitted that this is a matter of common concern.” Synod 1977 used this Consideration as part of its argument for appointing a committee to study the question of women’s voting rights. It assumed that this was a matter of the churches in common, but nowhere in its Acts does it provide a basis for this assumption.
- 3.2.3 The Acts of General Synod 1986, Article 120, Consideration 2 and 3, do not deal with the matter of the churches in common. This reference supplies no proof.
- 3.2.4 The Acts of General Synod 1995, Article 51, II, B, says nothing about the churches in common. This reference supplies no proof.
- 3.2.5 The Acts of General Synod 1998, Articles 111, 112, do not deal with the matter of the churches in common. This reference supplies no proof.
- 3.2.6 The Acts of General Synod 2001, Article 101, Consideration 4.2, says: The first ground that Regional Synod presents is that “the matter of women’s voting rights has been dealt with as a matter of the churches in common. This is true. However, this in itself does not constitute a ‘new ground.’ It only confirms that this request is at the right address, namely, General Synod.” This Synod is correct when it highlights that women voting “has been dealt with” as a matter of the churches in common, but it does not in its Acts defend its position.
- 3.2.7 The Acts of General Synod 2007, Article 136 says in point 2, dealing with admissibility: “This item is admissible because it comes from one of the churches and deals with a matter that has been perceived as one belonging to the churches in common.” Again, no determination is made about the question whether this belongs to the churches in common, but it is described as being a matter of perception.
- This past history of the Canadian Reformed Churches indicates that the question of whether or not women’s voting belongs to the churches in common has never been determined. Over time a perception has grown, based on common practice, but the question as to whether or not it belongs to the local church or to the churches in common has never been addressed as such.
- 3.3 While General Synod 1977, Article 27, Conclusion 1, stated that “since the unity of practice is desirable, the introduction of women’s voting by a particular church on its own would be regrettable,” it did not go on to state that such a decision would be contrary to Scripture, Confession, or Church Order.
That Synod decide to sustain the appeal of Burlington-Fellowship against Article 10, Appeal 1, Ground c of Regional Synod East 2008.
The chair ruled that by the fact that the Advisory Committee report was defeated, the appeal was denied.