27 Jan GS 2004 art 15
GS 2004 Article 15 – Delegation to General Synod
The church at Guelph has appealed Art. 75 of the Acts of Synod Neerlandia 2001 re: the number of delegates to general synod. Committee 2 presented its report concerning this appeal. The following was adopted:
Appeal from the church at Guelph re: the number of delegates to general synod
This appeal is declared admissible.
The church at Guelph:
- 3.1. Complains that Synod Neerlandia (Acts of Synod Neerlandia 2001, Art. 75) denied an overture from Regional Synod West to increase the number of delegates to general synods from four elders and four ministers from each regional synod to six elders and six ministers from each regional synod.
- 3.2. Asserts that Synod Neerlandia erred when it accepted the statement that “General synods are not representative assemblies” as absolutely true. According to the church at Guelph, there is truth in the fact that the churches are not “directly represented” at regional synod and general synod, however, they are “indirectly represented.”
- 3.3. States that more delegates will increase the likelihood of proportionate representation from the various classes and churches.
- 3.4. Considers that Synod Neerlandia should have given more weight to the increased number of churches in the federation as justification for an increase in the number of delegates to synods.
- 3.5. Argues that major shifts in the direction of synod decisions may be prevented by increasing the number of delegates.
- 3.6. Claims that though there would be more delegates at synods with an increase in the number of regional synods, the possibility of that happening at this time is quite remote.
- 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.
- 5.1. 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.