16 Jul GS 2016 art 112
GS 2016 Article 112 – Overture from Regional Synod West 2015 (RSW 2015)
- 1.1 Overture from Regional Synod West 2015 (RSW 2015), re: care of theological students by their home church and examination of theological students by their home classis (8.4.1)
- 1.2 Letters from the following CanRC: Burlington-Rehoboth (22.214.171.124), Ancaster (126.96.36.199), Fergus-North (188.8.131.52), Hamilton-Providence (184.108.40.206), Grand Rapids (220.127.116.11), Abbotsford (18.104.22.168), Grassie-Covenant (22.214.171.124), Lincoln-Vineyard (126.96.36.199)
- 2.1 Proposal 1 of the Overture (called “Overture 1”) is that “a student of theology should remain in the care of his home church.” The “home church” is defined as “the church that submitted a special attestation to the Theological Seminary, recommending them for study at the Theological Seminary.” The student’s resident church would be responsible for his (and his family’s) normal spiritual oversight and care. The “home church” would assist the student in his specific needs as a student of theology. The Committee for Needy Students’ Fund would provide the funds, but the evaluation of the student’s needs and the recommendation to the Committee would come from the “home church.”
- 2.2 This proposal is made with the following “rationale”:
- 2.2.1 It is important for students of theology to receive the ongoing support and encouragement of the local church from which they originate.
- 2.2.2 This will strengthen the link between the CRTS and the churches.
- 2.2.3 The proposal is comparable to the common practice in the churches of a retired minister having his membership in the church where he lives, while his ministerial credentials remain with the church he last served, and he receives care and support from that church.
- 2.2.4 The Committee for Needy Students’ Fund and the home church will assist each other to support needy students in a fair and helpful way.
- 2.2.5 Diaconal needs that arise in the life of students and their families would not fall only upon the deacons of the churches near the CRTS.
- 2.3 The following points were raised by the churches in regard to Overture 1:
- 2.3.1 Grassie-Covenant is concerned that:
- – It would not be helpful for the student’s home church to be in control of the funding to the student;
- – The distance between the home church and the student’s actual place of residence may mean the home church does not have a true understanding of the student’s needs;
- – This new system might slow down the process of students receiving aid.
- Grassie-Covenant notes that no church has expressed dissatisfaction to the Committee for Needy Students’ Fund in regard to its work.
- 2.3.2 Grand Rapids states that:
- – There are no grounds to prove that the home church has a deeper, more personal relationship with the student than their church of residence;
- – There is no evidence that the deacons in the churches where students reside are overburdened and require the help of the home church;
- – The PJCO should not be used as a ground or rationale for adopting this overture.
- 2.3.3 Hamilton-Providence agrees that there are benefits in having students maintain contact with their home church.
- 2.3.1 Grassie-Covenant is concerned that:
- 2.4 Proposal 2 of the Overture (called “Overture 2”) is that “a student of theology should be examined by his home classis.” The “home classis” is the classis that includes the student’s home church (see 2.1 above). This would require a change to Article 4B of the Church Order. The new Article 4B would read: “Declared eligible. Only those shall be declared eligible for call within the churches who 1. Have passed a preparatory examination by the classis of their home church (i.e. the church that recommended them for studies at the Theological Seminary).”
- 2.5 This proposal is made with the following “rationale”:
- 2.5.1 This will allow the home church and home classis to be more involved in the training and examination of students.
- 2.5.2 The responsibility for examining students would be spread more evenly among the different classes.
- 2.6 The following points were raised by the churches in regard to Overture 2:
- 2.6.1 Ancaster:
- – Supports the current practice that students are examined in the classis in which they reside;
- – Notes that Classis Ontario West, where most students are currently examined, has not asked to change the process of examinations;
- – Highlights that Classis Ontario West has used retired ministers and ministers from other classes to assist in conducting examinations;
- – Is concerned about the financial cost of this new system;
- – Is concerned that this new system would increase the burden placed on the students by giving them extra travel.
- 2.6.2 Grand Rapids:
- – Wonders which church would issue the attestation for a student to classis;
- – Asks whether the current system is failing in some way. If there is no problem with the current system, the Overture is moot;
- – Raises the practical concern that the Overture will make it more difficult for students to be examined in time to begin their Pastoral Training Program following the third year of their studies.
- 2.6.3 Hamilton-Providence:
- – Raises the question whether the home church would take over diaconal care for the student if he would not receive a call;
- – Asks who will take care of the costs of students travelling to their home classis;
- – Asks whether it is possible for students to request that their church of residence would become their home church.
- 2.6.1 Ancaster:
- 2.7 Fergus-North, Lincoln-Vineyard, Burlington-Rehoboth, Abbotsford, and Hamilton-Providence support Overture 1 and Overture 2.
- 2.8 Grand Rapids asserts that if Overture 1 is not adopted, then Overture 2 fails as consequence.
- 3.1 “Overture 1” is incomplete:
- 3.1.1 The Overture does not contain a clear request for action, nor a statement that can be adopted or taken over by Synod. Neither the statement of proposal, nor the paragraphs under the heading “Overture”, could be adopted by synod in their current form.
- 3.1.2 The specifics of how such an overture would be implemented have not been spelled out. This is evident in the concerns raised by the letters from the churches. Implementation of the proposal would require amending the Support Guidelines, published in Appendix 16 to the Acts GS 2013 for the CNSF. The Overture does not include a proposal for such an amendment, nor does it propose how such guidelines could be constructed. In fact, there is no interaction with the current guidelines at all.
- 3.2 “Overture 2” is incomplete:
- 3.2.1 The Overture does not contain a clear request for action, nor a statement that can be adopted. Neither the statement of proposal, nor the paragraphs under the heading of “Overture”, could be adopted by synod in their current form.
- 3.2.2 The specifics of how such an overture would be implemented have not been spelled out. This is evident in the concerns raised by the letters from the churches. The Overture requests that CO 4B be changed. However, implementation of the proposal would also require:
- 188.8.131.52 Interaction with GS 1958 Art. 188. This article stipulates the guidelines for ecclesiastical examinations in the federation. These guidelines would need to be changed;
- 184.108.40.206 Direction for local classes, whose regulations would need to be changed to accommodate this overture;
- 220.127.116.11 A recommendation regarding possible funding needed to cover the extra cost of travel for the students. This, in turn, could require further amendments to the Support Guidelines of the CNSF;
- 18.104.22.168 A recommendation for how to deal with foreign students.
- 3.3 Although there may be merit to the ideas contained in the Overture, neither part of the Overture can be adopted in its current form.
That Synod decide:
- 4.1 Not to adopt the Overture of Regional Synod West 2015.