GS 2010 art 75

GS 2010 Article 75 – Appeal from Fergus-Maranatha re: Committee on Women’s Voting

1.         Material

Appeal from Fergus-Maranatha re: Article 136 of Synod Smithers 2007 (8.5.i).

2.         Observations

  • 2.1       The church at Fergus-Maranatha recommends that, “Synod Burlington 2010 rescind the decision to appoint a committee to study the matter of ‘Women’s Voting’ on the basis that no new grounds were provided in accordance with Article 33 CO.”
  • 2.2       F ergus-Maranatha observes a number of things, summarized as follows:
    • 2.2.1    The basic history of how two committees were appointed by two successive synods to study the issue of women’s voting culminating in the decision of Synod 1983 not to appoint another committee.
    • 2.2.2    Synod 1983 “thanked the committee for the work done, indicating that the committee fulfilled its mandate. Synod [2007] provides no evidence to the contrary.”
    • 2.2.3    Synod 2007 took note that “despite requests from various churches and also by Regional Synod East, subsequent Synods (1986, 1995, and 2001) have decided not to appoint study committees on the basis that there were no ‘new grounds’ that would warrant revisiting the decision of 1983.”
    • 2.2.4     Synod 2007 observed that “The Cornerstone Council is asking synod to appoint a committee with the mandate to examine biblical teaching on headship and to determine how this teaching impacts voting in the church.”
    • 2.2.5     The topic of “headship” is extensively covered in the reports brought to synod by the committees formed by Synod 1980 (see pages 206 – 207, 211) and 1983 (see pages 114-117). Among other references to headship, the committee report to Synod 1980 begins the topic of “Women in the Old Testament” by saying “the matter of the rulership of the male over the female in marriage is further developed in the Old Testament after the fall.” Among other references to “headship,” the conclusions of the committee report to Synod 1983 refer to Gen 3:16 when saying that “Man’s rule over the woman is not an ordinance of God, but part of the curse of sin.” It also refers to Eph 5:21-33 when stating that man is the head (Greek: ‘kephale’) of the woman.”
  • 2.3       Fergus-Maranatha considers a number of things:
    • [i  .]      …Consideration 4.3 of the Acts of Synod 2007 erred by stating “the agenda set by a previous synod (1983) has not been completed.” Synod 1983 thanked the committee for their work, indicating that their mandate was fulfilled.
    • [ii .]      Synod may not continue agenda items from a synod 24 years earlier on the simple basis that a conclusive decision was not made. Article 30 CO, clearly states that new grounds must be presented and the synods 1986, 1995, 1998, and 2001 faithfully upheld this principle.
    • [iii .]      Re: Observation 3.7 of the Acts of Synod 2007: A new topic of study does not equate to new grounds. New grounds arise out of further study of scripture and need to be presented as such to be in compliance with Article 30 CO. The Cornerstone Church at Hamilton may have brought new questions to the matter and successfully argued that there was not a decisive conclusion regarding women’s voting, but this is not sufficient to support a motion to reopen a matter. To reopen a matter they must give an indication of new grounds (preferably biblical) as decided by synods 1986, 1995, 1998, and 2001.”
    • [iv .]       Re: Consideration 4.3 of the Acts of Synod 2007: The new elements brought forward by the Church at Hamilton are not clearly specified neither are they clearly referenced in the Observations or Considerations of Synod 2007.
    • [v .]      Assuming that the new “element” referenced in the Acts of 2007, Consideration 4.3, is the topic of “headship,” this topic has already been extensively studied and included in the reports brought to synod by the committees formed by Synod 1980 and 1983.
    • [vi .]       Since no legitimate grounds were presented, Synod 2007 has allowed the Cornerstone Church at Hamilton to re-package previously studied topics and to have another vote in another time where there may be different sociological perspectives on a matter where no new and relevant biblical grounds have been clearly identified. Article 33 CO is intended to prevent this disorderly persistence.

3.         Considerations

  • 3.1      It is true that Synod 1983 thanked the Committee on Women’s Voting Rights “for the work done,” but this does not prove that the Committee had “fulfilled its mandate.” This says nothing more than that Synod appreciated the efforts of the Committee in providing their report. It says nothing about whether the mandate was fulfilled or not.
  • 3.2      Fergus-Maranatha acknowledges that a conclusive decision was not made in 1983. Fergus-Maranatha does not prove that subsequent synods denied either to admit the matter or to appoint a new committee on the basis that a conclusive decision was never made on this issue. The Acts of Synods 1986, 1995, 1998 and 2001 indicate that other reasons were brought forward as rationale to re-open this issue but were all found not to be “new grounds.” However, when Hamilton approached Synod 2007, this rationale served as a legitimate new ground to reconsider the matter, having not been presented as a ground to a general synod in the time since 1983.
  • 3.3      It is a matter of public record that the churches have struggled with the issue of women’s voting since Synod 1974 and yet no conclusive decision was ever reached on the matter despite two extensive committee reports. Thus Synod 2007 was correct in stating that “The agenda set by a previous synod (1980) has not been completed.”

4.         Recommendation

That Synod decide to deny the appeal of Fergus-Maranatha.


One member of Synod abstained from voting.