23 Jul GS 2013 art 48
GS 2013 Article 48 – Appeal of Dunnville re: Literal Understanding of the Church Order
Committee 2 presents a second draft of its proposal. After a minor change, this was the result:
Letter of appeal from the church at Dunnville (8.5.8)
- 2.1. The church at Dunnville appeals Article 170 and 171 of Synod Burlington 2010 which dealt with an appeal from a brother (170) and from a church (171) on the same issue. General Synod denied both appeals which had challenged the decision of Regional Synod West 2009 regarding the application of Article 55 of the CO. The matter concerned the use in worship services of revised psalms which had not yet been approved by a general synod.
- 2.2. Synod Burlington 2010 agreed with Regional Synod West 2009 when it stated that “This matter is not just about the exact wording of Article 55, but also about how it is applied” (Consideration 3.1, Article 170). Synod Burlington 2010 also stated, “…the diligent observation of the articles of the CO … frequently requires that their provisions be interpreted and their true intent discerned, so that they can be properly applied. In principle, therefore, it was not wrong for Regional Synod West 2009 to speak about ‘the intent’ of Article 55.”
- 2.3. The church at Dunnville disputes this interpretation of Synod Burlington 2010 regarding Article 55 CO. Dunnville states, “This [i.e., Article 55] is the rule which provides consistency throughout the federation. Interpretation of the Article must be literal, for that would also provide the intent of the Article. To argue that Article 55’s literal interpretation and its intent are not the same is contradictory.”
- 2.4. The report of the SCBP to Synod Smithers 2007 stated: “It may be left in the freedom of the churches to make use of the revised Psalms in different ways. For example, either by having the congregation sing them before or during the worship services” (15.2.12, Report, p.199).
- 2.5. The church at Dunnville requests Synod Carman 2013 to:
- 2.5.1. “Rescind the decision” of Synod Burlington 2010, Article 170;
- 2.5.2. “Instruct the SCBP to provide a clear mandate for the testing procedure when introducing new or significantly revised Psalms and Hymns to the federation”;
- 2.5.3. “Provide leadership to the federation of churches by supporting a distinct and clear interpretation of the Church Order.”
- 3.1. It is important that the churches maintain what has been agreed upon in the CO and not move away from the literal reading of its articles by distinguishing between the plain or literal reading and the intent or spirit of the CO. The literal reading expresses the intent of the articles.
- 3.2. Synod Smithers 2007 did not provide an explicit directive to the churches to test the psalms in the worship services when it gave the mandate to the SCBP to “solicit input from the churches at all stages of the process.” However, such testing was suggested by the SCBP in its report received by Synod Smithers 2007 in which it stated, “It may be left in the freedom of the churches to make use of the revised Psalms in different ways. For example, either by having the congregation sing them before or during the worship services.” Synod Smithers 2007 did not reject this suggestion of the SCBP, which led to the assumption of a local church that it was approved by general synod to test these revised psalms in the worship services. Synod Smithers 2007 should have provided an explicit directive to the churches as to how the revised psalms should be tested by the churches.
- 3.3. It is not the SCBP’s responsibility to mandate the churches’ testing procedures when introducing new or significantly revised psalms and hymns.
That Synod decide that Synod Burlington 2010 erred when approving Regional Synod West 2009’s distinction between the literal reading and the intent of the CO in the application of Article 55.