GS 2016 art 60

GS 2016 Article 60 – RCUS (Reformed Church in the United States)

1. Material

  • 1.1    Report from the Committee for Contact with Churches in North America (CCCNA) – section Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS) (8.2.4)
  • 1.2    Letter from the Hamilton-Blessings CanRC (

2. Observations

  • 2.1    GS 2013 (Art. 93) gave the CCCNA the following mandate with respect to the RCUS:
    • [4.2.2]   To mandate the CCCNA to continue the relationship of EF with the RCUS under the Adopted rule and to endeavour to meet regularly to discuss matters of mutual concern and edification, giving attention to matters of Lord’s Day observance and admissions to the Lord’s table.
  • 2.2    Since GS 2013 the CCCNA met annually with the Inter-church Relations Committee (IRC) of the RCUS. These meetings took place in conjunction with the annual meetings of NAPARC. Matters discussed included the following:
    • 2.2.1     Due to decline of membership, the American Reformed congregation of Blue Bell dissolved. Some of the former members have since joined a local RCUS congregation.
    • 2.2.2     In light of their contact with some of the members of the former Blue Bell church, the RCUS requested a discussion with the CCCNA about the place of children in the covenant. The conclusion was that our respective federations have the same views about this matter of doctrine.
    • 2.2.3     Rev. S. Powell of the RCUS spoke at a conference hosted by the Winnipeg-Redeemer CanRC on the topic “Promoting a Biblical Sexual Morality.” He also led worship services in the Redeemer church.
    • 2.2.4     An article from the Reformed Herald magazine was reprinted in Clarion;
    • 2.2.5     The RCUS expressed appreciation for the decision of GS 2013 not to allow voting by women in the churches.
    • 2.2.6     The CCCNA discussed with the RCUS delegates their mutual concerns about the Reformed Churches in The Netherlands (GKv).
    • 2.2.7     In view of GS 2013’s decision not to offer EF to the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America (RPCNA) on the ground that these churches allow for female deacons, the RCUS was asked how they view the issue of female deacons in connection to their ongoing relationship of ecclesiastical fellowship with the RPCNA. The RCUS delegates mentioned that their churches have but little contact with the RPCNA at this time. They also stated that their churches have an increased awareness of the responsibilities entailed in a relationship of ecclesiastical fellowship. In regard to establishing relationships of ecclesiastical fellowship, the matter of female deacons would likely receive greater scrutiny in the present than it did in the past.
    • 2.2.8     The CCCNA raised with the RCUS delegates the mandate given by GS 2013. The IRC of the RCUS expressed regret that issues discussed in the past come up for discussion again. They feel that differences between our respective churches should be accepted with the recognition of each other as faithful churches of the Lord.
    • 2.2.9     The RCUS asked about the CanRC position on the length of the six days of creation. The CCCNA responded by referring to confessional statements. It was acknowledged that some in the CanRC are looking for room within the confessions for views other than a literal, six-day sequence of creation.
    • 2.2.10   The RCUS informed the CCCNA of a new sister-church relationship it had established with the United Covenant Reformed Church in the Philippines. It also informed the CCCNA that it had received some initial contact from the Heritage Reformed Congregations. Additionally, the RCUS has established ecclesiastical relations with the Reformed Fellowship Church in Kenya.
  • 2.3    The CCCNA sent representation to the general synods of 2014 and 2015 of the RCUS. The CCCNA also received a copy of the Abstracts of these synods which are also available on the RCUS website. The CCCNA feels that visiting the assemblies of the RCUS has served to cement the relationship with these churches.

3. Considerations

  • 3.1    The CCCNA has fulfilled its mandate in regard to the RCUS.
  • 3.2    Rule 1 of EF states that “the churches shall assist each other in the maintenance, defence and promotion of the Reformed faith in doctrine, church polity, discipline and liturgy, and be watchful for deviations.” Within this context, there is always room for discussion about differences in matters of doctrine and practice.
  • 3.3    When we enter EF, we accept each other as faithful churches without qualification. Differences that were noted and discussed prior to EF but which did not hinder entering EF, do not require resolution. It is incorrect to speak of “outstanding differences.” The word “outstanding” implies a need for resolution. Bringing up these issues repeatedly, without proper proof of necessity, is potentially damaging to the sister-church relationship. Discussion of these issues may take place naturally in the course of EF, but a specific mandate, identifying particular issues, need not be given.

4. Recommendations

That Synod decide:

  • 4.1    To thank the Lord for the faithfulness of the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS) to the Word of God and the Reformed confessions;
  • 4.2    To continue the relationship of Ecclesiastical Fellowship (EF) with the RCUS under the adopted rules.