08 Jul GS 2019 art 117
GS 2019 Article 117 – FRCA (Free Reformed Churches of Australia)
- 1.1 Report of the Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad (CRCA) regarding the Free Reformed Churches of Australia (FRCA) (126.96.36.199)
- 2.1 GS 2016 (Art. 21) decided:
- [4.1] To continue the relationship of Ecclesiastical Fellowship (EF) with the Free Reformed Churches of Australia (FRCA) under the adopted rules;
- [4.2] To express thankfulness and appreciation for the FRCA’s ongoing support for and interest in the Theological Seminary, including their financial support;
- [4.3] To mandate the Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad (CRCA):
- [4.3.1] To maintain close contact with the various deputyships of the FRCA in matters of relations with sister-churches abroad and informing the FRCA of changes or developments in third party relationships;
- [4.3.2] To invite the various deputyships of the FRCA to seek direct contact with the corresponding CanRC committee committees (e.g., our Standing Committee for the publication of the Book of Praise (SCBP), the Subcommittee for Reformed churches in the Netherlands of the CRCA (CRCA-SRN), our committees in charge of reviewing the liturgical forms, committee on Bible Translations and perhaps others) in areas of mutual interest where the CRCA’s mandate does not reach;
- [4.3.3] To send a delegation to the next FRCA synod in 2018.
- 2.2 Synod Bunbury 2018
- 2.2.1 Br. H. Schouten and Rev. A. Witten attended Synod Bunbury as fraternal delegates in June 2018.
- 2.2.2 Synod Bunbury decided to continue sister church relations with the CanRC according to the established rules.
- 2.2.3 Synod Bunbury decided that it is not feasible to establish a Free Reformed Theological Seminary at this time and mandated the Deputies:
- To investigate the possibility of pursuing distance education with the CRTS;
- To participate in the ad hoc committee investigating the possibility of distance education;
- To report to the next synod with a strategic long-term plan for a future Australian theological seminary that will have the potential to serve our sister churches and other churches in the wider Reformed community in the Asia-Pacific region (e.g. the Philippines, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore, South Africa).
- Regardless of what future decisions may be taken, strong support for and appreciation of the CRTS remains.
- 2.2.4 Synod Bunbury decided to adopt and produce an Australian version of the Canadian Book of Praise that will be called the “Australian Book of Praise: Anglo-Genevan Psalter.”
- 2.2.5 Synod Bunbury decided to terminate the sister relationship with the GKv. The following grounds were given to support this decision:
- Ground 1 for the FRCAs decision to terminate relations with the GKv is inaccurate by virtue of being incomplete. Grounds 2 & 3 are reported accurately via direct quotes from Synod, but Ground 1 currently reads:
- [1.] “The relationship with the GKv has become untenable due to their use of the ‘New Hermeneutics’ – principles allowing the current cultural context to play a determining role in explaining scripture. This has allowed the GKv to turn away from the clear instruction in God’s Word.”
- [2.] The evidence of ground one above is given particular expression in the recent decision of the GKv (Synod Meppel 2017) to allow women to the office of deacon, elder and minister.
- [3.] There has been no adequate response, let alone repentance, to earlier admonitions:
- [i.] Letter of admonition from Synod Armadale 2012 to GKV Synod Ede dated 22 April 2013 (Acts of Synod 2012, Appendix 5);
- [ii.] Letter from Synod Baldivis 2015 to GKv Synod Meppel 2017 (Acts of Synod 2015, Appendix 2).
- 2.2.6 Synod Bunbury 2018 decided to continue to monitor developments in both the DGK and the GKN and encourage these two federations to work towards unity with one another.
- 2.2.7 FRCA Synod Armadale 2012 decided that “the [DGK’s] relationship with the Liberated Reformed Church of Abbotsford (LRCA) may be an impediment to a future sister church relationship with the [DGK].”
- 2.2.8 Synod Bunbury 2018 gave deputies the task to encourage the GGRI in their efforts to work towards federative unity with the GGRC and the GGRI-Timor.
- 2.2.9 Synod Bunbury 2018 decided:
- To continue the sister church relationship with the First Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore (FERC), Reformed Churches in Indonesia (GGRI), the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ), the Kosin Presbyterian church of Korea (KPCK), and the Free Reformed Churches in South Africa (FRCSA) (see also 2.2.2 above);
- To investigate two churches in Australia, the Southern Presbyterian Church and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church;
- To continue to liaise with the URCNA and to recommend to Synod 2021 whether to proceed in a sister church relationship;
- To establish contact with the OPC.
- 3.1 From communications with the FRCA both in official contact and private conversations, attendance of local worship services, and observations at Synod Bunbury, it is clear that this sister church remains a faithful church. They abide by the Word of God as the only rule for faith and life and adhere to adopted confessions and church order.
- 3.2 The value of our relationship with the FRCA is evident particularly in the ongoing cooperation in theological education and mission work.
- 3.3 The CanRC can assist the FRCA in the production of an Australian Book of Praise and exploring possibilities for distance education from CRTS.
That Synod decide:
- 4.1 To continue the relationship of Ecclesiastical Fellowship (EF) with the Free Reformed Churches of Australia (FRCA) under the adopted rules;
- 4.2 To express thankfulness and appreciation for the FRCA’s ongoing support for and interest in the Theological Seminary, including their financial support;
- 4.3 To encourage the Board of Governors and Senate of the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary (CRTS) to continue contact with the deputyship for theological education in the FRCA in matters pertaining to their desire to have the first year CRTS program available as distance education in the short term and their desire to establish a regional seminary in Australia in the medium to long term;
- 4.4 To mandate the Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad (CRCA):
- 4.4.1 To maintain close contact with the deputyship of the FRCA in matters of relations with sister churches abroad and to consult the FRCA concerning changes or developments in third party relationships;
- 4.4.2 To invite the various deputyships of the FRCA to seek direct contact with the corresponding CanRC committees (e.g., our Standing Committee for the Book of Praise, Committee on Bible Translations) in areas of mutual interest where the CRCA’s mandate does not reach;
- 4.4.3 To send a delegation to the next FRCA synod in 2021;
- 4.4.4 To submit its report to the churches 6 months prior to the convening of the next general synod.