GS 2019 art 149

GS 2019 Article 149 – CRCA & CCCNA (Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad & Committee for Contact with Churches in North America)

1.   Material

  • 1.1    Report of the Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad (CRCA) (
  • 1.2    Report of the Committee for Contact with Churches in north America (CCCNA) (
  • 1.3    Letters from the following churches: Toronto (; Grassie-Covenant (; Tintern Spring Creek (

2.   Observations

  • 2.1    The CRCA and CCCNA submitted a combined report describing obstacles they encountered in operating as separate committees with a measure of overlap in their responsibilities:
    • 2.1.1    In multi-lateral situations such as the ICRC or NAPARC, challenges arose in relation to which committee should delegate how many men. GS 2016 mandated the two committees to consult with each other on the delegation to the ICRC.
    • 2.1.2    The two committees have inconsistent policies in some matters (e.g., whom to invite to our general synods). They have also experienced a lack of awareness about each other’s work when it came to representing the CanRC at sister churches’ General Synods or Assemblies so that they inadvertently worked at cross purposes.
    • 2.1.3    The CRCA and the CCCNA also report that the OPC “asked if the CanRC could cross-pollinate their inter-church relations committees (CRCA and CCCNA) to make it easier for our inter-church relations committees to function together.”
  • 2.2    Consequently, the CRCA and the CCCNA jointly recommend that Synod “mandate” the “CanRC inter-church relations committees” to do “a study of how CO article 50 can best be executed.” The committees request that the result of their study become “part of our ecclesiastical regulations.”
    • 2.2.1    This study should include the following topics:
      •   Whom to invite as delegates and whom to invite as observers to our general synods?
      •   Who is responsible for extending this invitation?
      •   What are the rights and privileges of delegates and observers during synod? How are they cared for during the time of synod and how can they interact with members of synod?
      •   What synod materials are delegates and observers respectively entitled to?
      •   Who is responsible for ensuring delegates and observers receive the materials they are entitled to?
      •   How to have CanRC representation at multi-church conferences (e.g. ICRC, NAPARC).
    • 2.2.2    This study should also indicate “how the CanRC inter-church relations committees might most effectively and efficiently work together.” Answers to challenges about working together ought to include matters as:
      •   The flow of information between the CanRC inter-church relations committees;
      •   The cooperation between CanRC inter-church relations committees;
      •   The pros and cons of consolidating and reorganizing all inter-church relations committees into one, taking into consideration reflection on this in the past;
      •   The pros and cons of maintaining different types of relationships.
  • 2.3    The Toronto-Bethel CanRC supports the concept of studying how the churches can best execute our inter-church relations and offers some additional perspectives. For various reasons (e.g., Article 50 CO speaks of “churches abroad”, but migrations of peoples increasingly means that these foreign churches are in reality living in our own communities; further, becoming one federation of churches with the sister churches living on our own continent is difficult to achieve at a solely federational level). Toronto concludes that “our current practice of EF no longer suits our context and needs to be re-evaluated.” Toronto recommends that the proposed study include reflection on “if and how ecclesiastical fellowship can be acknowledged and experienced at a local/classical level while being considered at a federative level to avoid a hierarchical approach that can hinder local church interaction.”
  • 2.4    The Grassie-Covenant CanRC shares its opinion that “adopting a more clearly defined structure to govern inter-church relationships would provide more clarity and consistency in our efforts to achieve Ecclesiastical Fellowship (EF) with other faithful churches.” As an example of a “more clearly defined structure,” Grassie-Covenant draws Synod’s attention to the 5 levels of EF used by the Heritage Reformed Congregations (with details supplied), with the suggestion that Synod consider making a decision to implement a structure in that line.
  • 2.5    The Tintern Spring Creek CanRC advises Synod of their conviction that “it would be beneficial for our federation to have a better policy as to our purpose and method in establishing and maintaining” existing and new relations with other churches. Tintern Spring Creek feels that too many resources are currently being used in establishing and maintaining relationships. Accordingly, Tintern commends to Synod’s attention the Rules for Ecclesiastical Relations of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (with details supplied).

3.   Considerations

  • 3.1    Already at GS 2010 the CRCA requested Synod to consolidate and reorganize inter-church relations by disbanding the CRCA and the CCCNA and creating one Committee on Inter-church Relations. Synod did not follow through with that request because (among other reasons) the CCCNA had not been part of the conversation. Now both the CRCA and the CCCNA express some dissatisfaction with the full separation of the two committees.
  • 3.2    The influx of migrants to Canada plus our growing awareness of Reformed Christian communities amongst these migrants prompts a reshuffling of the relationship between foreign mission and local mission. This in turn suggests that we do well to re-examine the interface between mandates typically given to a Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad (CRCA) (per CO Art. 50) and those given to the Committee for Contact with Churches in North America (CCCNA).
  • 3.3    Given these new realities, our current structure for the ecclesiastical relations could benefit from a careful re-examination. Rules followed by other NAPARC and ICRC churches could assist us in improving our patterns of establishing and maintaining relationships.

4.   Recommendations

  • 4.1    Synod decide to instruct both the Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad (CRCA) and the Committee for Contact with Churches in North America (CCCNA) to jointly:
    • 4.1.1    Do a thorough study on how CO Art. 50 can best be executed in today’s ecclesiastical realities. The items flagged in Observations 2.2-5 should be incorporated into the study.
    • 4.1.2    Submit a report to the churches 6 months prior to the convening of the next Synod.


, ,