ARTICLE 29: The Ecclesiastical Assemblies

Four kinds of ecclesiastical assemblies shall be maintained: the consistory, the classis, the regional synod, and the general synod.

Texts of Implementation

GS 2007 – Article 111

2. Observations

2.6   Winnipeg Redeemer recommends the following changes in the proposed Subscription Forms:

2.6.1   to change the word “major assemblies” in paragraph 3 of each form (8.3.1 and 8.3.2) to “broader assemblies.” Grounds: this is more consistent with the terminology used in the proposed church order. The term “broader” is better than “major” since some might interpret “major” as “higher authority.”

3. Considerations

3.3   Observation 2.6.1 and 2.6.2 have merit.

4. Recommendation

4.2   To instruct the committee to use the term “broader assemblies” in place of “major assemblies.”



Representation of Minor Assemblies at Major Assemblies

GS 2004 – Article 15

The following was adopted:

4. Considerations

4.1   The church at Guelph is correct in asserting that there is an “indirect representation” of churches to a general synod in that the churches are represented in their assemblies. This is affirmed by the following statements:

Like the regional and general synods, we call it a major assembly, which does not mean that it is a higher authority with more power, but simply an assembly formed by a larger number of churches through their representatives (G. Van Rongen and K. Deddens, Decently and in Good Order, p. 58).

At a general synod all the churches are represented.

Article 49 deals with the general synod, our broadest assembly. A general synod is a meeting where all the churches of the federation are represented (cf. W.W.J. Van Oene, With Common Consent, pp. 133, 139).

4.2   Synod Neerlandia is correct that “an increase of delegates cannot ensure proportionate representation.” On the other hand, the church at Guelph is also correct in stating that the likelihood of proportionate representation from the various classes and churches could result. However, the argument for proportionate representation is not a relevant consideration within Reformed church polity. In our Church Order representation is regional representation or delegation (C.O. Art. 47).  Should proportionate representation of classes and churches be desired, it would require a radical change to our current church polity.

4.3   The argument of Synod Neerlandia “…that General Synods are not representative assemblies but…that Reformed Church Polity works with the principle of delegation” (Acts of Synod Neerlandia 2001, Art. 75 Consideration 4.2, p. 88) does not exclude the possible increase in the number of delegates.

4.4   The church at Guelph does not prove that a major shift in direction of general synod can be avoided through an increase in the number of delegates to synod. Scripture does, however, assert that “many advisors make victory sure” (Prov.11:14; cf. Prov.15:22).

4.5   The church at Guelph is correct when it states that the likelihood of an increase in the number of regional synods is remote. With no increase in the number of regional synods, there will also be no increase in delegation to general synod.

5.   Recommendations

Synod decide:

5.1   To accede to the church at Guelph to rescind the decision of Article 75 of the Acts of Synod Neerlandia 2001.

5.2   To amend the first paragraph of Article 49 of the Church Order to read:

The general synod shall be held once every three years. Each regional synod shall delegate to this synod six ministers and six elders.

Texts of Application
Texts of Commentary
Character of Congregational Meetings

GS 2013 – Article 110

3. Considerations:

3.3.    In Article 176, Consideration 3.9 Synod Burlington 2010 brings forward the position of the congregation according to the Reformed Church Polity. It states that “A congregational meeting is then a public consistory meeting in which the consistory, before it makes or implements important decisions, hears and consults the members of the congregation.” In response to that, four churches (Calgary, Grand Rapids, Grand Valley, Willoughby Heights) brought up Article 3 of the Church Order. According to this article of the Church Order (“Those elected shall be appointed by the consistory with the deacons”), the election has a binding character. The word ‘shall’ used in documents like the Church Order expresses what is mandatory. Calgary and Attercliffe pointed to Article 31 of the Belgic Confession (“We believe that ministers of God’s Word, elders and deacons ought to be chosen to their offices by lawful election of the church…”) to prove that the election at the congregational meeting has a binding character. It is questionable if this can be read into Article 31 of the Belgic Confession. The focus of this article is more to distinguish the Reformed and Biblical method of appointing office bearers (by the [local] church) from the way it was done in the Roman Catholic Church (hierarchy). The words ‘election by the church’ do not define how that election should take place. Election can also be done through nomination of a single candidate by the consistory with the deacons (see Article 3 of the Church Order) and subsequent approbation by the congregation. However, it should be granted that this article gives an indication that if the consistory decides to call the congregation together for an election according to Article 3 of the Church Order, this election has a binding character and cannot be seen as advisory only. By allowing the congregation to vote, the consistory gives the congregation influence in the process of calling brothers to the office and the consistory shall abide by this decision of the congregation.

Character of Major Assemblies

GS 2013 – Article 110

3. Consderations

3.6.      Calgary, Carman-West, Coaldale and Willoughby Heights state that Synod Burlington 2010 ignored the concerns of the majority of the churches, as confirmed in the volume of letters received by Synod Burlington 2010. Of the 34 letters received by Synod Burlington 2010 only four spoke in favor of opening the door for women to participate in the elections. Nineteen explicitly indicated that they were against. Synod is an assembly in which the churches come together and where the voice of the churches may be heard. It is therefore unwise for a general synod to make a decision which was clearly not in line with what the churches expressed especially when that desire is not unbiblical or against the Church Order, as Synod Burlington 2010 acknowledged in Consideration 3.4. In a contentious issue like this it is desirable that a decision of a synod has broad support in the churches.