GS 2013 art 119

GS 2013 Article 119 – Letter from Kerwood re: Ecclesiastical Fellowship Categories

Committee 4 presented its second draft and with a minor change, this was the result:

1.         Material:

Letter from the church at Kerwood (8.1.16)

2.         Observations:

  • 2.1.      Kerwood feels that there is a need for a clearer and more consistent approach in establishing relationships with other churches. Kerwood refers to an apparent confusion of the terms “sister churches” and “ecclesiastical fellowship,” whether there is actually a difference between them.
  • 2.2.      Kerwood notes that the CRCA previously made a proposal of a “step procedure” for establishing inter-church relationships and opines that there is some merit in this approach, pointing to the “step procedure” in use by the URCNA. Kerwood also observes that the CanRC has different kinds of relationships with various churches, whether that of initial contact (e.g., RPCNA), that of ecclesiastical fellowship but not full unity (e.g., URCNA), or that of full and complete recognition in a close bond of fellowship (e.g., FRCA).
  • 2.3.      Kerwood requests a more structured and consistent approach to our inter-church relationships, so that the ideal of full federative unity is always kept in view. In particular, Kerwood would like a clear definition of the terms “ecclesiastical fellowship” and “sister church,” and also the implementation of a “step procedure to relationships,” namely, Step 1 (contact), Step 2 (Ecclesiastical Fellowship) and Step 3 (federative unity or sister church relationship).

3.         Considerations:

  • 3.1.      Synod Smithers 2007 was asked to clarify whether “sister church” was synonymous with “ecclesiastical fellowship,” and noted that in fact it was, “the former being the official name and the latter being the popular or common name” (Article 142).
  • 3.2.      Kerwood is incorrect to distinguish between relationships of “ecclesiastical fellowship but not full unity” and “full and complete recognition in a close bond of fellowship.” As federation, we either have EF with another bond of churches, or we do not.
  • 3.3.      If Kerwood desires clearer categories for our ecclesiastical relationships, it could bring a proposal from the minor assemblies to the broader, where it may be placed on the agenda of the CRCA and CCCNA for their attention.

4.         Recommendation:

That Synod decide that the above considerations serve as an answer to Kerwood’s letter.