Wednesday 12th July 2006 - Morning Session
Article 31 - Re-opening
Br Numan invites those present to sing Psalm 25:2. He reads from 1 John 1:1-2:6 and leads in prayer.
The Chairman requests Rev W vanderJagt, as advisor, to rise to indicate his agreement with the Three Forms of Unity. Rev vanderJagt rises.
Article 32 - Deputies Report on Appeal Court
Agenda Item 12j - Report Deputies Appeal Court
Appendix xx Report of Deputies to Investigate a Second Appeal Court
Proposal 1 of the deputies:
This proposal goes beyond our mandate because here we do not propose an assembly between Classis and General Synod but do give the possibility for a second appeal.
to appoint "appeal churches" from within the classical regions as the first appeal court. Those that are not satisfied with the decision of the appeal church may appeal to classis and if necessary, then to synod. Thus classis becomes the second appeal court.
Proposal 2 of the deputies:
- The neighbour church as an appeal body worked for both first and second appeals in the past.
- In agreement with Article 28 of the Church Order, no other assembly is established besides the three agreed upon.
- Although not entirely in agreement with Article 31 of the Church Order for the appeal first moves from one minor assembly to the next, after that, it does move from minor to major assemblies.
- Only ordained office-bearers deal with appeals.
This proposal goes beyond our mandate because here we do not propose an assembly between Classis and General Synod and is not in agreement with Article 31 of the Church Order which rules that appeals are to move from minor to major assemblies, but does give the possibility for a second appeal.
to return to the system whereby we appoint appeal churches and second appeal churches. This means that classis will no longer deal with appeals.
Proposal 3 of the deputies:
- In the past it has been proven that this system regarding appeals works;
- Only ordained office bearers will be involved;
- Only a small number of office bearers that may subsequently be appointed to a General Synod have also become involved with the matter (here we think especially of ministers - for while there are only two classical regions, at least half the number of ministers at synod would have dealt with the matter).
- Classis meetings do not come under strain with the danger that an unbalanced decision is made when complicated appeals have to be dealt with under the pressure of time [due to the distance some of the churches are apart, it is not always easy nor financially prudent to adjourn Classis for any length of times so that some work of investigation can be done].
This proposal is in agreement with our mandate but goes beyond Article 31 of the Church Order, which says that appeals move on from minor to major assemblies.
to appoint an "appeal church" from both classical region as a second appeal court: (every Synod would appoint new "appeal churches" so that, for example, for a three year period between synod, Armadale is the appeal church in Classis South to serve the churches of Classis North, next Synod appoints Byford etc. It could be done in this alphabetical order to avoid any indication of bias.)
- The neighbour church as an appeal body worked for both first and second appeals in the past.
- In agreement with Article 28 of the Church Order, no other assembly is established besides the three agreed upon there.
- Only ordained office-bearers deal with the appeals.
- By using the appeal church system the least number of office-bearers that may subsequently be appointed to a General Synod have also become involved with the matter.
III. Alternate decision:
- Not to adopt any of the proposals put forward by deputies.
- To thank the deputies for the work that they have done and to discharge deputies.
The need and advisability of such a second appeal court has not been substantiated.
Article 33 - Appeal from Legana re Art 67 Synod Launceston 1985 (refer Article 41)
Agenda item 8i - Letter FRC Legana Appeal re Article 67 Acts 1985
Discussion on admissibility and decision is made (recorded in Article ...).
Article 34 - Appeal from FRC Byford re Art 106 Acts Synod 1998 (refer Article 29)
Agenda Item 8l:
- Letter FRC Byford Appeal re Article 106 Acts 1998
- Report re: Lanka Reformed Church (Byford)
- Supplementary Reports FRC Byford re Lanka
The Free Reformed Church at Byford requests Synod 2006 to overturn the decision of Article 106 of Synod West Albany 1998 and to decide:
To give the deputies Sister churches [section Asia] the mandate
- To investigate whether it is possible to enter into a sister church relationship with the Lanka Reformed Church.
- To visit the Lanka Reformed Church during which visits the deputies will organise workshops, lectures, courses etc for both [potential] office bearers and church members to strengthen the Reformed character of the churches; these visits are subject to available finances.
- To ask the consistories within the FRCA to make their minister available to assist the Lanka Reformed Church.
- To investigate the opportunities for mission projects the FRCA can undertake in support of the Lanka Reformed Church
- To discuss with the Lanka Reformed Church the way the FRCA can organise the support for the Lanka Reformed Church and their financial accountability.
- To encourage the congregations to give the Lanka Reformed Church financial support to continue with their mission project of Reformed education in a similar was as the support of the Indonesian churches has been organised pending the outcome and report of deputies mentioned under a.
- To ask Mission Aid Australia to investigate the possibilities to support the educational project of the Lanka Reformed Church.
- To encourage members of the congregations [esp teachers and graduates] to assist the Lanka Reformed school in short term mission projects in teaching at their Reformed mission school.
- To report back to Synod 2009 according to the rules.
- The Lanka Reformed Church has shown to be to be reformed. They have adopted the Tree Forms of Unity as their confessional standard as well as the Westminster Standards. The Church Order of the Lanka Reformed Church is based on the Church Order of Dort.
- The Lanka Reformed Church has been recognised by the government of Sri Lanka as an instituted church. That the church has become very small does not alter the fact that Christ is gathering His people in Sri Lanka; Rev. 3: 8: "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name." Belgic Confession Article 27: "This church has existed from the beginning of the world and will be to the end, for Christ is an eternal King who cannot be without subjects. This holy church is preserved by God against the fury of the whole world, although for a while it may look very small and as extinct in the eyes of man."
- The FRCA have decided to "concentrate on relations and contacts with churches who are geographically closer to us and for whom we have a greater responsibility." [Acts Synod 1990, art. 58].
The Canadian Reformed Churches have, according to this principle, brought the Lanka Reformed Church to our attention.
- The financial problems of such a small church as the Lanka Reformed Church is a Scriptural reason to offer assistance, [Exo 23: 11; Lev 19: 10; Lev 25: 25;Deu 15: 4.7f; Ps 10:2.9; Ps. 12: 5; Ps. 41: 1; Ps. 68: 10; Ps. 72: 12; Prov 14: 21; Prov 21: 13; Prov 22: 9; Jer 22: 16; Amos 2: 6; Matt 19: 21; Matt 25: 36; Rom 15: 26; 1Cor 16: 1; Gal 2: 10; Jas 2: 16].
- That the Reformed school project is seen by the Lanka Reformed Church as a mission project is one of the points of which our Church Order says that "On non-essential points of ecclesiastical practice other churches shall not be rejected" [CO art 46].
- Via private initiative within the FRCA the Lanka Reformed Church and its mission project has already been supported for several years, so the argument of the submission of West-Albany 1998 is not valid. Especially also now the deputies sister churches [section Asia] come with the proposal to terminate the contacts with the churches in the Philippines.
- Not to mandate deputies to determine whether we might enter into sister church relations with the LRC.
- The Churches have the opportunity to lend help to the LRC as a possible mission post.
- Although the Lanka Reformed Church may be a church according to Article 27 of the Belgic Confession, the attached documentation shows that it is no longer an instituted church according to articles 1 & 36 CO and therefore it is not possible to enter into sister church relations which requires an established assembly.
- It would be prudent to extend help to brothers and sisters who are obviously in need of spiritual and material aide (cf James 2,14-16 (ESV): "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them: "Go in peace, be warmed and filled!", without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?").
- Mission work is done by the churches and not the broader assemblies
IV. Alternate decision:
The appeal of FRC Byford cannot be sustained.
- It is not possible to enter into a sister church relationship with the Lanka Reformed Church since they are not a church according to Articles 1 & 36 CO.
- Since this matter is one of mission work FRC Byford is at liberty to continue work there and expand if they so desire.
last updated 13 Jul 2006