24 Jul GS 2013 art 127
GS 2013 Article 127 – Gereja-Gereja Calvini Reformasi di Indonesia (GGRC)
Committee 3 presented a proposal. With a few changes, this was the result:
Report from the CRCA (8.2.1) and the CRCA Supplementary Report (188.8.131.52)
- 2.1. Synod Burlington 2010 decided the following in regard to the Calvinist Reformed Churches in Indonesia (Acts, Article 108, Recommendation 4.1-3):
- [4.1.] To not at this time offer a relationship of ecclesiastical fellowship to the CRCI;
- [4.2.] To mandate the CRCA to continue contact with the CRCI with a view to improving official communications and to gain more insight in the character and direction of the CRCI;
- [4.3.] To acknowledge that unity between the CRCI and the RCI should not be a prerequisite for ecclesiastical fellowship with either of these church federations.
- 2.2. These Calvinist Reformed Churches are referred to in their own language as the Gereja-Gereja Reformasi Calvinis (GGRC). The CRCA reports that it now uses the acronym GGRC to refer to these churches.
- 2.3. A matter of concern noted in the Acts of Synod 2010, Article 108, Observation 2.5 was the “problems between the CRCI (=GGRC) and the GGRM (the Pilgrim Reformed Churches), originally one federation together with the CRCI.” In May 2011 Dr. A.J. Pol accompanied Rev. A. Souman on a visit to the GGRC on the islands of Timor and Rote. The CRCA reports with thankfulness that the visit could be instrumental in bringing the GGRM back together with the GGRC after they had been separated from each other for some time. “Delegates from both groups of churches came together and signed an agreement of reconciliation during this visit. In July 2011 a synod was convened where this reconciliation was confirmed. One of the decisions was to use the name GGRC for the federation. Another decision was that the churches which previously were called GGRM would discontinue the practice of ordaining women as deacons.”
- 2.4. During his visit in July 2012, it became apparent to Rev. Souman that “not all the decisions made in the agreement of reconciliation have been implemented yet.” Also, although progress has been made in regard to ensuring that ecclesiastical assemblies take place, such meetings are not yet regular “and the synod did not finish its work properly.”
- 2.5. The CRCA notes that “the churches depend too much on one person, who has a lot of influence in the churches and several of the delegates were extremely hesitant to commit to anything without his approval.”
- 2.6. The CRCA does however see slow movement “in the right direction.” “Help, encouragement and from time to time also admonition from sister churches” is needed on a regular basis. The Canadian Reformed Churches have been the most involved in this situation even though there is no ecclesiastical fellowship with these churches yet.
- 2.7. Synod notes that “the CRCA is convinced that we do have a responsibility towards the GGRC, even if we cannot decide to enter into ecclesiastical fellowship with them. There is still too much uncertainty about the direction of the GGRC” (see Recommendation 4.2 of Article 108, page 189 of the Acts of Synod 2010).
- 2.8. Regular visits are important to continue to encourage ecclesiastical cooperation and the pursuit of ecclesiastical unity between the GGRC and the GGRI-NTT, which have already been sister churches of each other for about twenty years. During his visit in July 2012 Rev. Souman observed that “the GGRI(NTT) showed willingness to work on this unity, while the GGRC also expressed willingness but was a bit more reluctant.”
- 2.9. The pursuit of unity is also important since “the mission churches established through the mission work of Smithville indicated that they intend to join the new federation once the GGRI(NTT) and GGRC decide to unite.”
- 2.10. The CRCA has stayed in touch with the deputies of the FRCA in regard to the GGRC and has the impression “that the deputies of the FRCA and the CRCA agree on most of the issues regarding the relationship between the GGRI and GGRC.”
- 2.11. Given the uncertainty in regard to the direction of the GGRC, the CRCA stresses the responsibility of the Canadian Reformed Churches “to send someone to Timor on a regular basis to encourage the GGRC to become more Reformed and apply the Reformed doctrine and church order in their church life.” This is all the more important since “the Canadian Reformed Churches are in a better position to assist the GGRC to maintain, defend and promote the Reformed faith in doctrine, church polity, discipline and liturgy and to be watchful for deviations than any other church federation with which the GGRC has contact.”
- 3.1. Faithfulness to Scripture as we confess in the Three Forms of Unity as well as loyal observance of the Reformed Church Order is essential for ecclesiastical fellowship between Reformed church federations. There are no indications that in the GGRC there is a lack of faithfulness to Scripture. The weaknesses seem to lie in the realm of a proper understanding and implementation of the Reformed Church Order.
- 3.2. The CRCA should give special attention to finding out what obstacles the GGRC are experiencing in understanding and implementing the articles of the Reformed Church order and how to help the GGRC to remedy the situation. Education given through the Reformed Theological School in Kupang (established by the church in Smithville) can also be helpful in consolidating the GGRC in Reformed doctrine and church polity.
- 3.3. It is good to note with thankfulness to the Lord that the visit of Dr. A.J. Pol and Rev. A. Souman could be instrumental in bringing about reconciliation between the GGRC and the GGRM. The CRCA should be requested to continue to monitor developments to see if the decisions made at that time are implemented.
- 3.4. Since the GGRC are receptive to input from the Canadian Reformed Churches and are willing to work with this, efforts should be made to continue to assist them in their development. This will help to lay the basis for a future relationship of ecclesiastical fellowship in which we as churches help each other “to maintain, defend and promote the Reformed faith in doctrine, church polity, discipline and liturgy.”
- 3.5. Given the fact that the FRCA are in close geographical proximity to the churches in Indonesia, it is important to stay in contact with their deputies to ensure a harmonious and fruitful approach in dealing with the GGRC.
That Synod decide:
- 4.1. At this time not to offer a relationship of ecclesiastical fellowship to the GGRC, but to work toward that goal;
- 4.2. To note with gratitude to the Lord that the work of the Canadian Reformed Churches has borne fruit, also in the reconciliation that could take place between the GGRC and the GGRM;
- 4.3 To mandate the CRCA:
- 4.3.1. To continue contact with the GGRC to encourage these churches to be faithful to the Reformed doctrine and church order;
- 4.3.2. When possible to send someone from or delegated by the CRCA to help and encourage these churches to grow in Reformed character, giving priority to finding out what obstacles the GGRC are experiencing in understanding and implementing the articles of the Reformed Church Order and how to help the GGRC to remedy the situation;
- 4.3.3. To work in consultation and cooperation with the deputies of the FRCA, with the church of Smithville and the church of Edmonton-Immanuel and as much as possible and desirable with other organizations involved in the work among the Reformed churches in the province of NTT;
- 4.3.4 To encourage the GGRC to make use of the Reformed Theological School in Kupang (established by the church in Smithville) for the training for the ministry in their churches.