GS 2010 art 59

GS 2010 Article 59 – Report from CRCA re: Reviewing Approach

1.         Material

  • 1.1       Report of CRCA (8.2.m).
  • 1.2       Letters from Churches at Guelph (8.3.M.2), Hamilton-Providence (8.3.M.3), Grand Valley (8.3.M.6), Coaldale (8.3.M.7 and 8), Grassie (8.3.M.10), Fergus-Maranatha (8.3.M.13), Neerlandia (8.3.M.23), Willoughby Heights (8.3.M.25), Taber (8.3.M.27), and BurlingtonEbenezer (8.3.M.29).

2.         Observations

  • 2.1       The Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad draws attention to the fact that in our relations with other churches we only have the relationship known as “Ecclesiastical Fellowship.” There is no designation or rules governing churches that are fellow members with us in the International Conference of Reformed Churches (ICRC) or in the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC). Also, there are no rules for dealing with churches in “Ecclesiastical Fellowship” which are departing from Scripture and the Reformed confessions. The CRCA proposes establishing four kinds of relationships:
    • 2.1.1     Contact Churches (Churches being considered for EF)
    • 2.1.2     Fellowship Churches (Churches in EF with us)
    • 2.1.3    Associate Churches (Churches that are fellow members with us in the ICRC and NAPARC)
    • 2.1.4    Churches Raising Concern (Churches currently in EF with us but who give reason for serious concern)
  • 2.2       The CRCA prefaces the above-mentioned recommendation with this comment: “The material below has been sent to the Committee for Contact with Churches in North America (CCCNA) for their reflection and input. The CCCNA has indicated that it will send a response to the CRCA. No later than February 1, 2010, the CRCA hopes to issue a Supplemental Report which will incorporate the viewpoint and suggestions of the CCCNA.” In the Supplemental Report that was subsequently sent to the churches there is no mention of a reaction by the CCCNA.

2.3       Of the ten churches that addressed the matter of “Reviewing Approach,” not one agrees with the CRCA’s proposal to establish four kinds of relationships. One church states it is inadvisable for Synod to deal with the CRCA’s proposal because the promised Supplemental Report dealing with this matter was not sent to the churches. Another church mentions it is unfortunate that there is no joint recommendation by the CRCA and the CCCNA. One church says the CRCA should consult with the ICRC to see if there is a standard convention for names of the committee and various relationship stages. Several churches express grave reservations about the category “Associate Churches” because it may lead to using the ICRC and NAPARC to form and maintain new official church contacts or relationships. There are also reservations about

the fourth category “Churches Raising Concern” since application of the Rules for EF should adequately address any problems that may arise within sister churches. One church proposes to work with only two groups: first, the churches with which the CanRC have EF, and second, the churches with which the CanRC have contact through ICRC and NAPARC. This church adds that if there are concerns with any of the church federations in either the first or the second group, that can be dealt with it appropriately either directly or through the ICRC or NAPARC.

3.         Considerations

  • 3.1       The CRCA would like to establish four new kinds of relationships in place of “Ecclesiastical Fellowship.” Unfortunately no response from the CCCNA has been forwarded to the churches. Since the proposal of the CRCA involves the CCCNA it is, as one church pointed out, inadvisable for Synod to make a decision on this matter.
  • 3.2       Not one of the churches expressed favour for the new structure of four kinds of relations; others disagreed with some of the categories.
  • 3.3       It is true that the category “Associate Churches,” which would include churches in the ICRC and NAPARC, may lead to using the ICRC and NAPARC to form and maintain new official church contacts or relationships and thereby neglect the responsibility to seek EF.
  • 3.4        It is also true that there is no need for the category “Churches Raising Concern” because churches raising concern are covered by the Rule 1 of EF: “The churches shall assist each other in the maintenance, defence and promotion of the Reformed faith in doctrine, church polity, discipline and liturgy, and be watchful for deviations.”

4.         Recommendation

That Synod decide not to accept the proposal of the CRCA