06 Jul GS 2019 art 42
GS 2019 Article 42 – Appeal of Orangeville re: RSE May 2018 Art. 7 (“Application of CO Art. 31”)
- 1.1 Appeal from the Church of Orangeville re Art 7 of the Acts of RSE May 2018 (220.127.116.11)
- 2.1 This appeal is deemed admissible.
- 3.1 The Acts of RSE May 2018 state the following in Article 7:
- Article 7 – Lincoln-Vineyard’s Request to Revise (or Review) RSE 2017 Article 19.
- Lincoln-Vineyard acknowledges that, according to Article 31 CO, it has the right to appeal RSE 2017 Article 19 to the next general synod but argues that a revision (or review) by this RSE May 2018 would be more appropriate for pastoral concerns and church political grievances.
- [18.104.22.168] Regarding the pastoral concerns, Lincoln-Vineyard argues that the decision of RSE 2017 has left the appellant feeling vindicated while Lincoln-Vineyard consistory feels otherwise. This confusion presents an “obstacle” to the pastoral care of the member. To wait till general synod 2019 would prolong the confusion and hamper pastoral care. Additionally, due to the sensitive nature of the materials, Lincoln-Vineyard is concerned that the matter be dealt with in the “smallest circle” possible.
- [22.214.171.124] Regarding the church political grievances, Lincoln-Vineyard finds several faults with the decision of RSE 2017 in Article 19:
- [126.96.36.199.1] Lincoln-Vineyard faults synod for going beyond the mandate given it in Article 31 CO. RSE 2017 was confronted with an appeal of a sister against the decision of a classis. However, RSE 2017 instead of judging that decision, endeavoured in its considerations to identify “critical and key moments” in the course of events that “should be addressed and focussed on as the heart of the matter.” Among these moments were many specific interactions between the appellant and the consistory of Lincoln-Vineyard (see especially Lincoln-Vineyard faults synod for stating in Consideration 3 that the “appellant does not clearly show how the decisions of Classis Niagara are in conflict with Scripture and the Church Order,” but failing to render the necessary, consequent decision to deny the appeal.
- [188.8.131.52.2] Lincoln-Vineyard faults synod for not making “a decision either to sustain or to deny the sister’s appeal,” but only presenting its considerations as its answer to the appeal. Lincoln-Vineyard complains that it is unclear how one “may appeal considerations of a minor assembly to a major assembly.”
- [184.108.40.206.3] Lincoln-Vineyard faults RSE 2017 for ignoring the fact that Classis Niagara June 21, 2017 had clarifying materials available to it from Lincoln-Vineyard consistory which RSE 2017 itself did not. Yet RSE 2017 proceeded to make commentary on the actions of Lincoln-Vineyard consistory without hearing its version of events.
- [220.127.116.11.4] The motion carried, and synod acceded to Lincoln-Vineyard’s request. A motion as made and seconded to review (i.e. to set aside the original decision and revisit the matter) the decision of RSE 2017 (Art. 19).
- 3.2 Orangeville asks GS 2019 to judge that RSE May 2018 acted contrary to the Church Order, when it decided to set aside a decision of RSE 2017 and revisit a matter that should have been dealt with by a General Synod.
- 3.3 Orangeville notes that RSE May 2018 simply takes over Lincoln-Vineyard’s statement that “it has the right to appeal the decision of RSE 2017 Art. 19 but argues that a revision (or review) would be more appropriate for pastoral and church political grievances.” Orangeville observes that even though CO Art. 31 stipulates that if someone complains that he has been wronged by the decision of a minor assembly he shall have the right to appeal to the major assembly, the Church Order has no article dealing with revision by the same level of ecclesiastical assembly. Orangeville states that RSE May 2018 should have given reasons for not abiding by CO Art. 31.
- 3.4 Orangeville notes that RSE May 2018 unquestioningly takes over Lincoln-Vineyard’s reasoning that pastoral concerns and church political grievances would be more appropriate at the level of Regional Synod. According to Orangeville this is an unsubstantiated statement. They argue that although it can be appreciated that consistories deal with difficult situations, the peace of the church is not served by ignoring the rules that have been adopted by common consent.
- 3.5 Orangeville notes that RSE May 2018 did not interact with the fact that it was not the original appellant who asked for review of her appeal, but the party against which the accusation originated. As the party that felt wronged by the decision of RSE 2017, the only proper way for Lincoln-Vineyard to address the matter was to approach the next General Synod.
- 3.6 Orangeville notes that the reality of church life is that although decisions of broader assemblies do not function as common law or case law, this action of RSE May 2018 will serve as precedent for ignoring the clear provision of CO Art. 31.
- 4.1 Although some church order commentaries do leave allowance for revision of previous ecclesiastical decisions others do not. The request for revision can potentially result in a conflict of interest or even a perception thereof. In the history of the CanRC we have worked with broader assemblies to minimize the possibility that those judging do not influence or judge the same case a second time.
- 4.2 The Orangeville CanRC is correct that RSE May 2018 unquestioningly takes over the reasoning of the Lincoln-Vineyard CanRC that pastoral concerns and church political grievances would be more appropriate at the level of Regional Synod. Lincoln-Vineyard can be commended for the desire to keep this pastoral matter in the smallest circle possible but this is not sufficient grounds to deviate from the clear intent of CO Art. 31. Lincoln-Vineyard’s church political grievances are also matters that should be dealt with by way of an appeal to the broader assembly.
- 4.3 Although Orangeville argues that the appellant to RSE 2017 could request a revision, the proper recourse for either party is to appeal to the broader assembly.
- 4.4 Orangeville is correct that this decision of RSE May 2018, allowing a revision, will serve as precedent for ignoring the clear intent of CO Art. 31.
- 4.5 In appealing this decision Orangeville’s intent was not to undo the decision of RSE May 2018, but rather to prevent the setting of a precedent. Thus this decision of GS 2019 has no impact on the other appeals against RSE May 2018.
That Synod decide:
- 5.1 To sustain the appeal of the Orangeville CanRC re: RSE May 2018 Art. 7.
During discussion the following amendments were moved and seconded and adopted:
- 1. To delete from observation 4.1 the line:
- Orangeville is correct that Church Order Article 31 does not leave room for revision of previous ecclesiastical decisions.
- 2. To insert at the * in the following sentence in consideration 4.1:
- Although some church order commentaries do leave allowance for revision * others do not.
- the words:
- of previous ecclesiastical decisions
- so that the sentence reads:
- Although some church order commentaries do leave allowance for revision of previous ecclesiastical decisions others do not.