GS 2019 art 63

GS 2019 Article 63 – Appeal of Chilliwack re: GS 2016 Art. 87 (Women Voting)

1.   Material

  • 1.1    Appeal to GS 2019 from the Chilliwack CanRC re: GS 2016 Art. 87 (

2.   Observations

  • 2.1    Chilliwack appealed the decision of GS 2010 to leave the matter of women voting in the freedom of the local church. Its appeal was answered with the decision of GS 2013 to reverse the decision of GS 2010. Chilliwack believes it was wrong for GS 2016 to overturn the decision of GS 2013 by using the argument that GS 2013 did not prove that GS 2010 was in conflict with Scripture or the Church Order. Chilliwack is of the opinion that GS 2013 did not have to prove anything but that GS 2010 should have proved that the decisions of previous synods were in conflict with the Word of God and the Church Order, which GS 2010 did not do.
  • 2.2    Chilliwack is of the opinion that GS 2016 should not have reopened the way for women to vote based on something that is unclear in Scripture. Chilliwack states that we can be confident that men participated in the calling of office bearers, but we cannot be confident that women did. Therefore, Chilliwack finds that male only voting is the only option.
  • 2.3    Chilliwack believes a Council is bound by the result of a congregational vote and refers to CO Art. 3 in support of its opinion (“Those elected shall be appointed by the consistory with the deacons…”). This leads Chilliwack to conclude that women should not participate in the election, otherwise women make a decision which is binding on Council. In this way, women would exercise authority in the church.
  • 2.4    Chilliwack argues that since GS 2016 agreed that women’s voting is a matter of the “churches in common,” it cannot be left to the local church. According to Chilliwack, a matter of the churches in common means that there must be a common answer to the question whether women may vote. Chilliwack says that it cannot be yes and no at the same time.

3.   Considerations

  • 3.1       Chilliwack does not take into account that GS 2007 appointed a committee to “finish the mandate extended by Synod Smithville 1980” regarding women voting (GS 2007 Art. 136, Rec. 5.2). This committee reported to GS 2010 where a decision was then made. Chilliwack is therefore incorrect in its analysis that the burden of proof rested on GS 2010 rather than GS 2013.
  • 3.2    It is a logical and theological fallacy to reason that if Scripture does not have clear evidence of women voting, then women may not vote. When Scripture does not speak directly to a matter, we are called to take into account the full scope of Scripture and to exercise our judgement in coming to a responsible decision.
  • 3.3    Chilliwack overlooks that the Council binds itself to the outcome of the election according to the stipulation in the Church Order agreed upon by the churches. This means that the congregation is not binding Council or exercising authority in the church by way of a congregational vote. The view that the congregation’s vote binds Council is wrong because, according to Reformed church polity, not the congregation but Council exercises authority in the church.
  • 3.4    A matter of the “churches in common” is a matter decided upon by the churches together. This does not always mean that the outcome of the decision must be the same for all the churches in the federation. If the churches together decide that a matter of the “churches in common” can be left to the local churches, then the decision is made by the churches together, but the outcome is not necessarily always the same locally. 

4.   Recommendations

That Synod decide:

  • 4.1 To deny the appeal of the Chilliwack CanRC re: GS 2016 Art. 87.