06 Aug GS 2010 art 81
GS 2010 Article 81 – Free Church of Scotland (FCS) and Free Church of Scotland Continuing (FCC)
- 1.1 Report from the CRCA.
- 1.2 Letters from the churches of Toronto (8.3.M.1), Grand Valley (8.3.M.4), Coaldale (8.3.M.8), Fergus-Maranatha, (8.3.M.15) Attercliffe (8.3.M.26), Taber (8.3.M.27), Burlington-Ebenezer (8.3.M.29), Glanbrook (8.3.M.33), Abbotsford (8.3.M.35), Lincoln (8.3.M.36), and Cloverdale (8.3.M.38).
- 2.1 T he CRCA recommends that Synod Burlington-Ebenezer 2010 decide:
- 2.1.1 To continue the relationship of ecclesiastical fellowship (EF) with the FCS under the adopted rules.
- 2.1.2 To rescind the decision of Synod Smithers 2007 with respect to FCC and to reinstate the relationship of EF with that church.
- 2.1.3 To use its good offices to exhort the FCS and the FCC to work earnestly at reconciliation and reunion.
- 2.1.4 To charge the CRCA to send two committee members to the FCS and FCC with a view to encouraging them, also when it comes to the unity of the church.
- 2.2 Synod Smithers 2007 decided, among other things, to acknowledge that Synod Chatham 2004 erred by “continuing” a relationship of EF with the FCC which, in fact, did not exist. Since then the CRCA received several letters from the FCC expressing sadness that Synod Smithers decided to discontinue a relationship of EF with the FCC. The FCC suggests this decision was based on inaccurate information. According to the FCC the division between them and the FCS was more than a matter of polity but “comes down to a question of practical acceptance of the doctrine that Christ is the Head of the Church.” Furthermore, “the Free Church Continuing would strongly challenge any suggestion that they have ‘seceded.’” They “did not want a division and do not want division and from the beginning have worked toward reconciliation.” In a letter to the CRCA the FCC expresses the following wish: “We most sincerely pray that your Committee will be able to correct at as early a date as possible the errors of fact which seem to underlie the findings of Synod Smithers.” After hearing the comments of the FCC, the CRCA concludes that Synod Smithers erred in some of its assumptions and conclusions.
- 2.3 Most of the churches who responded to the report encourage synod to accept all four recommendations of the committee and as such reinstate the relationships with the FCC under the adopted rules. The suggestion is made by one of the churches that the CRCA should as yet pursue a study of the history of this separation in order to come to a well-founded decision regarding this legitimacy. One church cautions Synod to make the decision to rescind the decision of Smithers 2007 on the basis of errors made and not simply as a means to re-establish communication.
- 2.4 Two churches recommend Synod “uphold the decision of Synod Smithers 2007 with respect to the FCC and to encourage the FCS and FCC to work earnestly at reconciliation and reunion” since, as one church wrote “Synod Smithers decision is consistent with past decisions which rejected the idea of the pluriformity of the church.”
- 2.5 Several of the churches who wrote to synod expressed concern about the fact that the Free Church of Scotland entered into a formal relationship with the Church of Scotland (a denomination that is a member of the World Council of Churches).
- 2.6 The CRCA reports on a meeting with two ministers of the FCS in which the status of the Joint Statement was discussed. These ministers explained that the Joint Statement was meant to form a basis for discussion and did not purport to be either a covenant or agreement. In the meantime the discussions with the Church of Scotland have run stuck over matters of how to view and interpret Scripture, as well as over the matter of the ordaining of homosexuals to the ministry in the Church of Scotland. The CRCA sees no need to delve further into this matter.
- 2.7 One of the churches laments the fact that the report makes no mention that the committee took any action to exhort the FCS and FCC to continue their efforts towards reconciliation.
- 3.1 The CRCA correctly recommends that the decision of Synod Smithers 2007 be rescinded. It is clear from the CRCA report that the decision was made on the basis of incorrect information. To reinstate a relationship of EF allows the CRCA to deal with both churches in a fair and just manner.
- 3.2 It would be redundant to mandate CRCA as yet to study the history of the separation of these churches. The Acts of Synod 2001 and 2004 testify that such an investigation has already taken place. The CRCA should keep in mind, however, the mandate given by Synod 2004 which instructed the CRCA “to continue monitoring the situation in the hope of gaining clarity.”
- 3.3 The Joint Statement between the Free Church of Scotland and the Church of Scotland is a cause of concern not only to some of our own churches but to the FCC as well. The CRCA report indicates recent developments would suggest the Joint Statement no longer functions and that, therefore, the matter needs no further attention. However, the CRCA should receive confirmation from the FCS that their evaluation and conclusions are correct.
That Synod decide:
- 4.1 To continue the relationship of EF with the FCS under the adopted rules.
- 4.2 To rescind the decision of Synod Smithers 2007 with respect to the FCC and to reinstate the relationship of EF with the FCC.
- 4.3 To provide the CRCA with the following mandate:
- 4.3.1 To give due diligence to the Rules for EF and in the context of these rules to monitor the relationship the FCS has with the Church of Scotland.
- 4.3.2 To encourage the FCS and the FCC to work earnestly at reconciliation and reunion.
- 4.3.2 To send two committee members to the FCS and FCC with a view to encouraging them, also when it comes to the topic of the unity of the church.