GS 2010 art 88

GS 2010 Article 88 – Liturgical Forms and Confessions

1.         Material

  • 1.1       Report from the Liturgical Forms and Confessions Subcommittee of the Committee for Church Unity (8.2.d).
  • 1.2       Letters from Hamilton-Providence (8.3.D.1), Edmonton-Immanuel (8.3.D.2), Owen Sound (8.3.D.3), Flamborough (8.3.D.4), Neerlandia (8.3.D.5), Carman West (8.3.D.6), and Lincoln (8.3.D.7).

2.         Observations

  • 2.1       According to the Acts of Synod Smithers, Article 104, the recommendation was made “to appoint a Liturgical Forms and Confessions Committee with the mandate to meet with their counterparts in the URCNA to come with a unified text for creeds, confessions, and liturgical forms and prayers, for the proposed prose section for the Common Songbook.”
  • 2.2       The Committee never met with URCNA Committee. They did communicate by means of letters. In their October 27, 2008 letter of response, the URCNA Committee noted that they were mandated to prepare liturgical forms and confessions for a URCNA songbook. They went on to state, “Therefore we do not see our mandate as entailing the production of a ‘unified text’ for all future liturgical forms as does yours.” In the reply they also appended a copy of all their completed work to date on their revised liturgical forms and prayers. The URCNA brothers requested our Committee’s thoughts on these forms and prayers. The Committee responded with some suggestions of improvements, but they have not received any official response.
  • 2.3       The Committee notes that if it is to function there needs to be clarity from the URCNA as to the mandate of their Committee regarding our Committee. The Committees cannot function together if the mandate of the URCNA Committee does not include direction to work with the CanRC Committee towards unified texts for a joint songbook. The Committee questions whether the URCNA is sincerely interested in unity with the CanRC.
  • 2.4       In the course of their discussions the Committee noted that several issues arose with regards to our existing creeds, confessions, liturgical forms and prayers. They are listed in section 4.2 of their report.
    • [a.]       In the future, the committee will need to discuss the Three Forms of Unity. Must we insist on our editions of the Three Forms? Are the URCNA editions acceptable to us? What are we to say if the URCNA wishes to adopt editions from another church federation? Is it within the mandate of the committee to produce new editions of the Three Forms of Unity in collaboration with our URCNA counterparts?
    • [b.]          Is our committee to entertain the production of new liturgical forms, such as a Form for the Reception of New Families? Are we also to consider multiple forms such as found in the URCNA (Blue) Psalter Hymnal?
    • [c .]       With regards to the prayers, the present mandate does not address whether the committee has the freedom to or is expected to propose additions to or emendations of the prayers. Other related questions arise such as: What is the purpose of the prayers? Are they teaching models or intended to be used on a regular basis? Do we envision a common songbook with a small number of prayers or are we open to the possibility of multiple prayers (i.e. having the URCNA prayers and traditional CanRC prayers both included)?
    • [d.]          Do we want Seasonal Collects in our joint song book?
  • 2.5           The Committee recommends in section 5.0 of their report that:
    • [1]        Synod Burlington-Ebenezer 2010 forthrightly address URCNA Synod London on the concerns raised in 4.1.
    • [2]        Synod 2010 clarify the mandate of the CanRC Liturgical Forms and Confessions Sub-Committee by providing guidance as to the questions posed above in 4.2.
    • [3]        Synod 2010 appoint Rev. J. Van Vliet to the Committee and use its own discretion as to where the Committee should be based and who should serve.
  • 2.6       The Committee also submits four appendices.
    • Appendix 1:     Comparative Study of Forms for Public Profession of Faith. This study provides background notes, a comparison table, and general impressions and evaluation.
    • Appendix 2:      Comparative Study of Forms for Readmission. This study provides background notes, a comparison table, and general impressions and evaluation.
    • Appendix 3:      Seasonal Collects.
    • Appendix 4:      Form for the Reception of New Families.
  • 2.7       Hamilton-Providence expresses regret that our Committee was only able to make limited progress in fulfilling its mandate because of an apparent lack of interest on the part of the URCNA.
  • 2.8       Hamilton-Providence and Edmonton-Immanuel agree with the Committee that Synod Burlington-Ebenezer address Synod London on whether or not the URCNA is serious about pursuing full federative unity with the CanRC. They also support the other recommendations of the Committee. Flamborough agrees with the Committee’s request that Synod 2010 find out the intention of the URCNA.
  • 2.9       Neerlandia proposes that no further work be carried out by the Liturgical Forms and Confessions Subcommittee until we as churches know what the desire of the URCNA is with respect to further unity, and then a mandate can be given to the Committee.
  • 2.10       Edmonton-Immanuel expresses disappointment that the mandate of the Committee could not be properly carried out due to a conflicting mandate from the URCNA for their Committee. They desire that this concern of conflicting committee mandates be passed on to Synod London. Owen Sound also expressed disappointment that the URCNA did not give their Committee a clear mandate and as a result the two Committees could not work together.
  • 2.11     Edmonton-Immanuel affirms the issues raised in 4.2. Carman West, Owen Sound and Edmonton-Immanuel gives the following suggestions to the Committee as it seeks clarification.
    • 2.11.1 Carman West suggests that the mandate is sufficiently clear. It is not necessary to define in advance everything the committee should be doing, but simply to encourage it where possible to enter into discussions to come up with a “unified text for creeds, confessions, and liturgical forms and prayers.” Obviously the intent in regard to the Three Forms of Unity is to come up with an edition that faithfully reflects the wording of the definitive documents in their original languages, that is understandable, and mutually acceptable to both federations. Whether this will ultimately be our edition, their edition, the edition of another church federation or one that seeks to build on the strengths of various versions is secondary to the objective “to come with a unified text.” With the questions given, it seems that the Committee is asking for clarification on areas that have been discussed already. Owen Sound believes that a common edition of the Three Forms of Unity should be the aim of the two Committees.
    • 2.11.2 Rather than broaden the existing mandate in such a way, Carman West indicates that it would be preferable to remain within the limits of working with forms already in use. It would be beneficial for the Committee to include further background information in regard to such forms. The Committee should include a discussion as to whether multiple forms are necessary. As council they would prefer to have single forms. Owen Sound believes that it would be best for the churches to have common liturgical forms. Even multiple forms as found in the Psalter Hymnal would be good, as long as they are acceptable to both. The Form for Reception of New Families would appear to them to be a useful form to include in respect to families with children joining the congregation. Edmonton-Immanuel considers that our forms for Baptism and Public Profession of Faith are certainly sufficient; they would question the necessity of such a redundant form.
    • 2.11.3 Carman West would prefer that the Committee mandate not be extended to include adding to existing prayers, but to refine what is in use. They would like to encourage the committee to discuss the proposed questions in order to come up with a final product that is workable and acceptable as a “unified text.” Owen Sound believes that the prayers in the Book of Praise and Hymnal are basically teaching models that can be used in the worship service. They envision a collection of prayers similar to that presently contained in the Book of Praise.
    • 2.11.4 Carman West suggests that season collects could be included. They like to note that some changes to the words of the Christmas prayer are necessary in order to reflect the present. We live in a time period after the ascension of the Lord. Owen Sound feels that it would be beneficial to include the seasonal collects in the collection of prayers as examples that could be used in special worship services.
  • 2.12     Lincoln feels that this Committee was not able to complete its task. They also note that in requesting for continuance, the Committee recommends in section 5.0, point 3, that they might “… use their own discretion…” as it relates to future decisions. Lincoln asks if that term refers to the Committee’s or Synod’s discretion? They recommend some clarification. Lincoln, also points out that some statements within the proposed URCNA liturgical forms require some clarity, specifically as that relates to the doctrine of covenant and of the impact of publicly professing one’s faith.

3.         Considerations

  • 3.1         It is regrettable that no progress could be made by this Committee.
  • 3.2       With the regard to the matter of a unified text, it would be beneficial for the Committee to work on this matter. A careful review of our existing editions of the creeds and confessions would prove beneficial for our federation and for a future united federation
  • 3.3       A careful review of our existing Forms as well as the production of a Form on the Reception of New Families also has merit.
  • 3.4       With respect to the prayers, the Committee asks a number of questions but gives no recommendations. Seeing that the prayers function both as teaching models and for liturgical use, it would be good to review them carefully as well and to suggest emendations as needed. The addition of more prayers and collects did not receive much support from the churches and thus requires no further work.

4.         Recommendation

That Synod decide:

  • 4.1       To retain the objective of working towards a unified text.
  • 4.2       To thank the Committee for Liturgical Forms and Confessions for the work done to date, and to reappoint it at this time.
  • 4.3       To give the committee the following mandate:
    • 4.3.1    To review and compare the Creeds, Confessions, Forms, and Prayers of the CanRC and URCNA with a view to merger, and to make itself available to the URCNA as needed.
    • 4.3.2    To report to the churches 6 months before the next General Synod.