GS 2022 art 78

GS 2022 Article 78 – Appeal against RSE 2020 Art. 13 (Language of questions in Liturgical Forms)

1.   Material

  • 1.1    Appeal from the Hamilton-Blessings CanRC against the decision of RSE 2020 (Art. 13) not to adopt the overture of Classis Central Ontario (CCO) May 2020, regarding the amendment of the language of the questions in the liturgical forms (
  • 1.2    Overture (request), embedded in the appeal, from Hamilton-Blessings that if their appeal to GS 2022 is upheld, GS 2022 would adopt the CCO May 2020 overture to RSE 2020 (

2.   Admissibility

  • 2.1    The appeal, and the overture within it, was declared admissible.

3.   Decisions

Synod decided:

  • 3.1 To sustain the appeal of Hamilton-Blessings (1.1);
  • 3.2 To deny the overture (request) of Hamilton-Blessings (1.2).

4.   Grounds

  • 4.1    Re 3.1: RSE 2020’s decision not to take over the overture is based on insufficient grounds as demonstrated by the following:
    • 4.1.1   In Consideration 1 RSE 2020 makes an observation about the overture. Hamilton-Blessings is correct to note this. An observation cannot be a ground for a decision without further clarification as to how that observation would form an argument against the overture being adopted. As such, RSE 2020 Art. 13 Cons. 1 is insufficient.
    • 4.1.2   RSE 2020 misunderstands the intent of the overture when it states in consideration 2 that the current phrase in our forms, namely, “summarized in the confessions” is “inclusive of what is expressed in the Apostles’ Creed”. Hamilton-Blessings is correct to assert that the overture does not say this, but rather seeks to have the form refer to the Apostles’ Creed to make explicit the historical connection between triune baptism and faith in the triune God as we confess it in the Apostles’ Creed.
    • 4.1.3   Although Hamilton-Blessings overstates RSE 2020’s position in Consideration 3 as “a theological blunder” since it is evident from the context in which RSE 2020 made their statement that they did not intend to say that every theological formulation in the confessions is promised to candidates for profession of faith, nevertheless, RSE 2020 in answer to Ground B of the overture uses as a ground the very consideration the overture is contesting in Ground B (GS 1986 Art. 144 Cons. 1). It is not sufficient to answer an objection against a consideration by repeating the consideration.
    • 4.1.4   RSE 2020 Art. 13 Cons. 4 fails to consider Ground C on its own merits, even though later in Consideration 7, it will acknowledge that the overture does make a historical case that the Apostles’ Creed is the correct referent for the phrase “the articles of the Christian faith” in the original liturgical forms. RSE 2020’s primary concern with both considerations 4 and 5 is to argue against the overture’s conclusion that if the historical referent for the phrase “the articles of the Christian faith” is the Apostles’ Creed, then the term “confessional membership” is erroneous. Whether or not the term is erroneous, the overture’s contention that the phrase “articles of the Christian faith” cannot mean “confessions” does not necessarily mean the overture seeks to minimize the confessions in the life of the members. Contrary to what RSE 2020 says in Consideration 4, when it refers to Ground D of the overture, there is no evidence that the overture is arguing that the Apostles’ Creed is something that “stands alone” from all that is in the Scriptures as summarized in the confessions.
    • 4.1.5   RSE 2020 declares in Consideration 6 that no evidence was presented that the sister churches referred to in the overture (URCNA and OPC) “limit their member’s confessional vow” to only the Apostles’ Creed in their formulations; however, RSE 2020 offers no evidence themselves that the phrase “articles of the Christian faith” in the URCNA membership vows includes more than the Apostles’ Creed.
    • 4.1.6   Although Hamilton-Blessings did not appeal Consideration 7, the question of whether the 1983 decision changed what the churches were asking in the liturgical forms goes to the heart of what the overture is addressing and, therefore, cannot be used as an argument against the overture.
  • 4.2    Re 3.1: GS 2019 Art. 64 Rec. 5.1 left Hamilton-Blessings with the impression that their request could come back to Synod in the form of an overture via the ecclesiastical route when they pointed Hamilton-Blessings to Considerations 4.1, 4.2 and 4.4. This is certainly the impression given by Consideration 4.4 which states, “In this way, all the churches will have ample time and opportunity to interact with it through this filtering process.” (Italics added)
  • 4.3    Re 3.2: It is not possible for GS 2022 to adopt the overture since all the churches have not had the opportunity to interact with the overture through submissions to GS 2022. Since this overture has already been considered by a Regional Synod, a church can take over this exact same overture and submit it directly to GS 2025, at least six months prior to the synod, also distributing it to all the churches, analogous to Synod Guidelines I.F.

During discussion, a motion to amend was made and duly seconded:

To remove:

  • Since this overture has already been considered by a Regional Synod, a church can take over this exact same overture and submit it directly to GS 2025 at least six months prior to the synod.

And add at this point:

  • To be considered, the overture should be sent to the next RSE, which can then decide whether to submit the overture to the next general synod as per Synod Guidelines.

The motion was defeated.

During the course of making this decision, it was moved and seconded to divide the question into 3.1 (with 4.1 and 4.2) and 3.2 (with 4.3) This motion was defeated.