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The final (published) version of the Acts of Synod 2006 is available as a single PDF file here.
The Acts available in HTML format are an "Approved Draft", and contain spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and typos.
These draft acts are being retained online for convenience and ease of access. Quotes should not be taken from these draft acts.
 
Tuesday 11th July 2006 - Afternoon Session


Article 19 - Appeal of Br P 'tHart against Classis South 10 March 2006

I. Material:

Agenda item 8m – Letter Br P 'tHart Appeal Classis South 10/03/06

II. Admissibility:

DECLARED ADMISSIBLE

Grounds:

This submission responds to a decision of an ecclesiastical assembly and is allowed by the Church Order.

III. Appeal:

In keeping with Article 30 of the Church Order which in its last sentence says, "A new matter may be put on its (the major assembly's) agenda only when the minor assembly has dealt with it", I appeal a decision by Classis South held 10 March 2006. Classis deemed my Appeal regarding a Consistory decision inadmissible. Classis did so on the grounds that essentially I was appealing a synodical decision.

I appeal this decision on the following grounds:
  1. Synod decisions are binding upon the churches unless they are against Scripture, Confessions, or the Church Order. In the latter case Consistories should appeal those decisions.

  2. Where a Consistory, upon a proposal, decides not to appeal a specific decision, that Consistory accepts the synod decision as being not against Scripture, the Confessions, and the Church Order. In the case of a doctrinal matter, it accepts that it must and will teach in accordance with the synod decision. The doctrine so accepted becomes the doctrine of the local church.

    In the case of West Albany the doctrine concerned has already been preached from the pulpit.

  3. Church members who are convinced that this doctrine is against the Word of God have the duty to appeal that Consistory decision to the major assemblies. The fact that they also have the opportunity to appeal the next Synod to set aside the decision of the previous Synod is an action to be considered.

  4. However, the decision of the local church can be appealed only to the first major assembly.

  5. Classis is the first major assembly to which decisions by the minor assembly can be appealed.

  6. Appeals of this kind, properly addressed and in good time, cannot be deemed inadmissible. To declare that "your appeal is actually against a decision made at Synod 2003" is incorrect and a denial of the responsibility of the local church for its acceptance and teaching of doctrine determined by synod.

  7. The Classis South decision to declare that "Classis therefore deemed your submission (sic) inadmissible" sets a dangerous precedent as it will preclude any future appeals on ratification of doctrine that has originated from synod decisions to be heard by Classis.

  8. In this case it was an appeal clearly worded as being an appeal against Consistory's doctrinal decision and not against the doctrinal decisions of last Synod.

  9. The present Appeal then has no reference to the matter appealed as such but rather to the denied proper procedure.
IV. Decision:

Not to accede to the appeal.

Grounds:

Brother 'tHart was appealing against a decision made by General Synod. This decision did not concern the West Albany congregation and so the West Albany consistory was not called to make a judgment on the matter.

DEFEATED

V. Decision

Not to accede to the appeal.

Grounds:
  1. Classis South was correct in deciding that Br. P. t'Hart was appealing a synodical decision and that therefore his appeal should have been directed to Synod.

    The appellant must first show that Synod Rockingham erred for only if Synod erred did consistory err in implementing Synod's decision. Therefore an appeal to Synod logically precedes an appeal to classis for implementing Synod's decision.
ADOPTED


Article 20 - Request of Church at Mt Nasura for Clarification of Article 30 CO

I. Material:

Agenda Item 10b – Overture, request clarification Article 30 CO

II. Overture:

The Free Reformed Church of Mt Nasura requests Synod to clarify the interpretation and application of Article 30 Church Order by deciding that the final sentence of Article 30 does not nullify how in this article we agree that matters for the churches in common are to be dealt with by the churches in common at their major assembly. Thus the churches are to direct matters for the churches in common directly to the appropriate assembly in agreement with the adopted rules for Synods.

Grounds:
  1. There has been no conscious decision made among the Churches to add a sentence to this article by which the then present interpretation and application has effectively changed.

  2. The interpretation of some commentators in practice nullifies the intention of this article – that major assemblies are to deal with both; matters that could not be finished in the minor assemblies and matters that are for the churches in common. In fact, with the newly introduced interpretation this second point may as well be deleted from this article.

  3. Classis cannot do anything with a ‘matter for the churches in common', but pass it on to the major assembles. Classis is not authorized to make a decision on it.
III. Decision:

Synod decides to clarify the final sentence of Art 30 by specifying that the churches are to direct matters for the churches in common directly to the appropriate assembly in agreement with the adopted rules for synods.

Grounds:
  1. There has been no conscious decision made among the Churches to add a sentence to this article by which the then present interpretation and application has effectively changed.

  2. The interpretation of some commentators in practice nullifies the intention of this article – that major assemblies are to deal with both; matters that could not be finished in the minor assemblies and matters that are for the churches in common. In fact, with the newly introduced interpretation this second point may as well be deleted from this article.

  3. Classis cannot do anything with a ‘matter for the churches in common', but pass it on to the major assembles. Classis is not authorized to make a decision on it.
DEFEATED

IV. Decision:

To deny the request.

Grounds:
  1. While it may be true that the last sentence of Article 30 was inadvertently added to the Church Order without considering its impact, the way to remedy the situation is not to make a synod decision which overrides the Church Order
ADOPTED


Article 21 - Overture to Synod from FRC Mount Nasura

I. Material:

Agenda Item 10c – Overture from FRC Mount Nasura dated 17 June 2003

II. Admissibility:

DECLARED ADMISSIBLE

Grounds:

This submission is from the churches and allowed by the Church Order.

IV. Overture:

Synod decide that in considering relations with other churches:
  1. The church pluriform practice of permitting guest ministers of non-sister church to proclaim God's Word and to permit guests of such churches to the celebration of the Lord's Supper is an obstacle to entering into sister-church relations.

    Grounds:

    1. In Article 28 of the Belgic Confession we maintain from God's Word that no one ought to withdraw from it, (i.e. the church) content to be by himself, no matter what his status or standing may be. But all and everyone are obliged to join it, maintaining the unity of the church. It is inconsistent with this confession to invite office-bearers to proclaim God's Word, and to invite as guests to the celebration of the Lord's Supper, those who do not practice this unity

    2. It is impossible to maintain the above-named confession (of grounds a) should churches that do not apply it be received as sister churches.

  2. It is essential to maintain the confessed Scriptural comfort that the Lord has made His covenant with the believers and their children:

    Grounds:

    1. In the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 27, Q&A 74 we confess that Infants (i.e. of believers) must be baptized because they, as well as adults belong to God's covenant and congregation. In the Belgic Confession, Article 34 we confess that children ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as infants were circumcised in Israel on the basis of the same promises which are now made to children. This confession is based on what the Lord teaches in Acts 2:39.

    2. The Westminster Larger Catechism brings the place of children within the covenant into doubt when it says in Q&A 31: Q. With whom was the covenant of grace made? A. The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam and in him with all the elect as His seed. In its adopted statement Synod 1998 (Article 93, see page page 49) recognized this problem and refers to how from Q&A 166 of that same Catechism it may be deduced that all children of believers are considered members of the covenant when saying that infants descending from parents, either both or but one of them professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are, in that respect, within the covenant, and, to be baptized. Although this deduction may be made from Q&A 166, so long as Q&A 31 remains in the Westminster Larger Catechism, the words of Q&A 166 in that respect leave an opening to consider the children of believers to be in the covenant only in a certain respect. It is clear from Scripture that Esau was just as truly and fully a covenant child as Jacob even though in the end Esau proved to be a covenant breaker and not elected.

    3. In its statement synod 1998 rightly shows how important this confession is by pointing at the practical conclusion that the church must exhort and assist parents in fulfilling their duty to instruct their children in the doctrine of the Old and New Testament as soon as they are able to understand...
V. Decision

Not to accede to this overture.

Grounds:

This matter has already been addressed by previous Synods (confer Article 157, Synod 1992).

ADOPTED


Article 22 - Appeal from West Albany re Art 78 Synod Rockingham 2003

I. Material:

Agenda Item 8b – Letter FRC West Albany Appeal re Art 78 Acts 2003

II. Admissibility:

DECLARED ADMISSIBLE

Grounds:

This submission is from the churches and allowed by the Church Order.

III. Appeal:

The Acts of the 2003 Synod Article 78 records the decision and grounds as follows:

Decision:
  1. Not to accede to the request of Mt Nasura.

  2. To request deputies to investigate this matter further and report back to the churches.
Grounds:

The material presented to Synod was not sufficient for Synod to make a judgement on this matter and therefore needs further investigation.

We appeal this decision of Synod on the basis of the following grounds:
  1. this decision is contrary to a decision made by Synod 1998 with respect to a similar request from Mt Nasura (see Acts of the 1998 Synod, Art 72). Since that decision has never been appealed, it stands as settled and binding upon all the churches. The decision of Art 78 Synod 2003 is contrary to that.

  2. We should make judgements with respect to the faithfulness of other churches based on their official doctrines and practices, not on the basis of the writings of one of their ministers.

  3. The supervision of the doctrine of a minister of the Word serving in another bond of churches is the responsibility of his session/presbytery. For our Synod to instruct deputies to investigate Dr Ward's teachings is contrary to our own Church Order, which forbids churches to lord it over other churches.

  4. In the grounds of the adopted decision, it states that "the material presented to Synod was not sufficient for Synod to make a judgement on this matter and therefore needs further investigation." Scripture teaches us to be very careful with accepting a charge against an office bearer. 1 Timothy 5:19 says, "Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses". Since Mt Nasura has not come forward with sufficient evidence to support their claim, their request should have been rejected.
IV. Decision:

To not grant the appeal.

Grounds:
  1. The grounds are insufficient.
Re their ground 1: Art 72 Synod 1998 does not oblige Synod 2003 to follow the same path. Further the situation of the two people involved and the relation to the churches in which they served was different.

Re their ground 2: the principle expressed in this point means that the church which is not faithful in disciplining errant ministers is not fully faithful in its practices.

Re their ground 3: this was no lording it over the PCEA, but simply an investigation of the teaching of Dr R S Ward, which was germane to the ongoing effort towards unity.

Re their ground 4: Dr R S Ward had publicly promoted his views in his book Foundations in Genesis: Genesis 1-11 Today. He thus testified to his own convictions.

ADOPTED


Article 23 - Nominating Authorities

I. Material:

Agenda Item 12a – Report Deputies Nominating Authorities – Marriage Act 1961

II. Decision:
  1. To thank the deputies that they have completed their mandate and their report has been received.

  2. To discharge the present Authorities noting that unlike a Synod the Nominating Authority is a permanent entity.

  3. To appoint new deputies officially designated as the Nominating Authorities to discharge duties under the Marriage Act 1961;
ADOPTED


Article 24 - Church Order and Ecclesiastical Documents

I. Material:

Agenda Item 12c – Report Deputies for Church Order and Ecclesiastical Documents

II. Decision:

Synod thanks the Deputy to have Church Order and Ecclesiastical Documents Prepared/Published for his work.

ADOPTED


Article 25 - Indexing of Synod Decisions

I. Material:

Agenda Item 8e – Letter Classis South re Indexing Synod Decisions

II. Decision:

That Synod appoint a deputy or deputies to continue the work of Rev G VanRongen for the churches with the mandate:

To continue the work of Rev G VanRongen in collating the decisions of Synod as they relate to articles of the Church Order:
  1. To publish updated versions in the best format (eg, binder style) to allow more additions from future Synods.

  2. To have the Synodical Treasurer pay the initial cost of publication.

  3. To authorise the selling of these books, at a normal cost, to the churches and to its members.
Grounds:
  1. This project is really designed for the churches for easy access to synodical decisions. Thus it makes sense to have the churches together responsible for it. Appointing a synodical deputy or deputies seems the best way to continue this worthwhile project.

  2. The deputy or deputies can decide with Pro-Ecclesia Printers which is the best format in which to publish such a book which will continue to grow.

  3. The initial cost might be expensive. It seems best that the Synodical Treasurer be asked to do so.

  4. The appointed deputy(ies) can arrange for the sale of the booklets to the consistories and church members. A normal cost means the churches will recover the initial costs. In future the costs should be minimal.
III. Amendment:

Insert the following in Decision i):
  1. "...and on the official web page of the FRCA..."
ADOPTED

IV. Amended Decision:

To continue the work of Rev G VanRongen in collating the decisions of Synod as they relate to articles of the Church Order:
  1. To publish updated versions in the best format (eg, binder style and on the official web page of the FRCA) to allow more additions from future Synods.

  2. To have the Synodical Treasurer pay the initial cost of publication.

  3. To authorise the selling of these books, at a normal cost, to the churches and to its members.
ADOPTED




last updated 13 Jul 2006
 
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