GS 2013 art 91

GS 2013 Article 91 – Appeal of Winnipeg-Redeemer re: Centralizing Needy Students Fund

Committee 3 presented its second draft. This was the result:

1.         Material:

Letter of appeal from Winnipeg-Redeemer re: decision of Synod Burlington 2010 “to establish a Synod-appointed church for funding of theological students, ad CO Article 20.” (8.5.10)

2.         Observations:

  • 2.1.      Winnipeg-Redeemer claims that the decision of Synod Burlington 2010 to establish a central fund for needy theological students (Article 91) contradicts Article 151 in which the Proposed Joint Church Order (PJCO) was provisionally adopted. Article 4A of the PJCO states: “The consistory with the deacons shall help [every student] to ensure that his financial needs are met, if necessary with the assistance of the churches of classis” (emphasis added).
  • 2.2.      Winnipeg-Redeemer requests synod to rescind Synod Burlington 2010, Article 91 and endorse Article 151.
  • 2.3.      Winnipeg-Redeemer suggests that it would be best if responsibility for supporting needy students financially be given back to the home church. It argues that:
    • 2.3.1.     This would be more in line with church polity;
    • 2.3.2.     The local church is more cognizant of the financial situation of the student and his family than a synod-appointed church;
    • 2.3.3.     Appointing one church to oversee all requests could open the door to universal support for all students rather than an individual appraisal of the needs of each student;
    • 2.3.4.     It need not be the classis in which the student resides that gives support, but the classis from which the student comes;
    • 2.3.5.     Centralization involves a hierarchical tendency.
  • 2.4.      Winnipeg-Redeemer suggests that a student requesting financial assistance shall present his budget to his home consistory for its review and provide regular updates to his home consistory in regard to his studies and his financial situation. The home church shall be responsible to ensure that the student’s financial needs are met, if necessary with the assistance of the church’s home classis.

3.         Considerations:

  • 3.1.      Synod Burlington 2010 adopted the following Consideration 3.4 in Article 57: “From the letters received, it appears that the status of the PJCO needs to be clarified. Currently the Canadian Reformed Churches are governed by the Church Order adopted at General Synod 1983 and it will remain so until such time as a future General Synod decides that agreement has been reached on merger. Then, and only then, will the text of the Joint Church Order be finalized and implemented.”
  • 3.2.      Although Winnipeg-Redeemer makes well-considered arguments for reverting support back to the local church, since the centralized fund was only introduced three years ago it would be premature to contemplate discontinuing it. Furthermore, a proposal to revert the support for needy students back to classis would require some broad-based support which could be obtained by following the route of Article 30 of the Church Order.

4.         Recommendation:

That Synod decide to deny the appeal.