GS 2010 art 44

GS 2010 Article 44 – Appeal from Coaldale re: NAPARC

1.         Material

Appeal from the church at Coaldale re: Article 140 of the Acts of Synod Smithers 2007 (8.5.t).

2.         Observations

  • 2.1       Coaldale appeals the decision of Synod Smithers to join the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council.
  • 2.2       Coaldale informs Synod that some months before March 12, 2010, it received from the CCCNA a document which set forth some of the implications of membership in NAPARC.
    • 2.2.1    In the first place, the CCCNA informed Coaldale that membership in NAPARC means agreement with a statement entitled “The Golden Rule Comity Agreement.”
      • Point 4 of this “Comity Agreement”
      • stipulates that member churches of NAPARC “will encourage our regional home missions leadership to develop good working relationships.”
      • Coaldale mentions that there is both a PCA and a FRCNA congregation in its geographical area. Both of these federations are members of NAPARC.
      • Coaldale goes on to write: “If we were to honour this agreement locally, this would mean that we have a duty to try to develop good working relationships with the home mission leadership of the local PCA and FRCNA. This implies that we ought to also work together. This seems odd to us since we do not have EF with the PCA nor the FRCNA. We have never heard anyone in our federation suggest that we ought to pursue EF with the PCA and our last synod specifically decided that we ‘Cease from pursuing discussions with the FRCNA’ (Synod Smithers 2007, Article 104, 4.1.).”
      • Coaldale also states: “We believe that prior to working together on the level of church planting, we ought to first establish EF with one another.”
    • 2.2.2    Coaldale also communicates to Synod that it was informed by the CCCNA that in becoming a member church of NAPARC the CanRC have also agreed to the “NAPARC Agreement on Transfer of Members and Congregations.”
      • This document stipulates “that in the regular transfer of membership between NAPARC churches, the session/consistory or presbytery/classis not receive a member until appropriate document of transfer is in the hands of the receiving church.”
      • Coaldale considers that the stipulation mentioned in amounts to an agreement to receive each other’s members on the basis of an attestation which Coaldale considers improper since some member churches of NAPARC are not in a relationship of EF with the CanRC.
      • Coaldale also points out that should it not receive a member of a NAPARC church on the basis of an appropriate “document of transfer,” or refuse to grant an attestation to a NAPARC-affiliated Church, the “NAPARC Agreement on Transfer of Members and Congregations” provides for a “Recourse and Appeal” under which NAPARC-affiliated churches could appeal to the CCCNA or to a classis or a Synod that Coaldale acted inappropriately.
  • 2.3       Coaldale expresses concern that the churches were not informed about the implications of membership in NAPARC until after Synod Smithers made the decision to join this body.
    • 2.3.1    Coaldale recognizes that the CCCNA report to Synod Chatham 2004 did inform the churches that one of the purposes and functions of NAPARC is to “promote cooperation wherever possible and feasible on the local and denominational level in such areas as missions, relief efforts, Christian schools and church education.” However Coaldale considers that the implications of this statement were not spelled out for the churches.
    • 2.3.2    Coaldale is concerned that the churches were never given any indication about the contents of the “NAPARC Agreement on Transfer of Members and Congregations” until after we had agreed to join NAPARC,” which means that the churches never had opportunity to discuss these documents prior to taking this decision.

3.         Consideration

The self-described “appeal” of Coaldale is more like an overture than an appeal in that it challenges the decision of Smithers 2007 not in terms of the stated grounds of that decision but in terms of information that came to light subsequent to Synod 2007. For this reason, the appeal should be denied but the content of Coaldale’s submission can be considered along with other letters from the churches relating to the CCCNA Report on NAPARC.

4.         Recommendation

That Synod decide to deny the appeal of Coaldale.