Synod Legana 2009
Closing Address by Reverend A van Delden
Chairman of Synod Legana 2009
Wednesday 24th June 2009, Synod Legana, Tasmania, 2009
(Acts Article 99)
We've come to the conclusion of the 24th Synod of the Free Reformed Churches not the shortest synod of the FRCA—not by far. The first synod of the FRCA lasted only four days. Yet this was the shortest synod that I've ever attended in my nearly twenty years in Australia. In the course of seven working days, we've accomplished quite a bit of work. Whether our work was done well will be up to the churches to decide—and more importantly, up to the Lord to decide.
We must acknowledge that the work we've done was done with weakness and fault—far more than we probably realise. And so we need to humble ourselves before the throne of God's grace, and ask Him to forgive us our weaknesses and faults.
The fact that our work is done with weakness might incline us to think that our work is futile. But our comfort lies in the knowledge that God is able to work His power through our weakness. And our prayer is that God may bless our humble endeavours at this Synod.
As we did our work here at Synod, we often found each other and made decisions, if not unanimously, then at least with a good majority. In this respect, I believe that synod is quite unique. We reached unanimity regarding our church relations with Korea, Canada, South Africa and Indonesia. Most amazingly and thankfully, this was true also with regards to the Netherlands. We reached this unanimity, but not easily, and not quickly. We explored one path, but found that we left half of the others behind. We tried another path, with the same result. At times we were perplexed—perhaps even frustrated. But through ongoing discussion and deliberation, we found each other in the end, and finding common ground we forged ahead together, often coming to unanimous decisions. I'm convinced that we did this, not by ourselves, but by the guidance and blessing of the Spirit. And I'm convinced that we did this, not by compromising our scriptural principles, but sacrificing our personal preferences.
Now our prayer is that the Lord will bless the decisions which we have made, so that they may serve for the glory of God's name, and the well-being of our churches. Now the churches must work with these decisions. Undoubtedly some will be disappointed with some decisions, feeling that they went too far. Others may be disappointed that they did not go far enough. Our prayer now must be that the same Spirit who guided us may guide the individual members and congregations to come to that same unanimity and agreement. This will only happen when all members of our churches desire to find each other, and are willing to engage with each other in earnest discussion. This will only happen when all are willing to sacrifice, not scriptural principles, but personal preferences.
One thing that struck me through the course of this synod is the excellent involvement and contributions of the non-ministerial delegates. It cannot be said that during this synod the ministers did the most talking, or authored most of the proposals. The non-ministerial delegates have made a great impact on the outcome of this synod, and I really appreciate their input.
I would like to thank the foreign delegates, who were willing to come to us, and participate in the discussions pertaining to their churches. We could enjoy good fellowship together, not just around the synod table, but also around the lunch table, and during our coffee breaks. At this synod, we sadly missed delegates from some of our sister churches, such as those in Indonesia, South Africa and Canada.
I expect that the decisions which we've made regarding the churches in the Netherlands may be disappointing to our delegates from these churches. The delegates from the Dutch churches, (liberated), brs Bronsema and Wezeman, may feel that we have gone too far; the delegates from the Dutch churches (restored) brs. Drijfhout and Houweling, may feel that we haven't gone far enough. You have seen that these decisions have been made after much prayer and deliberation. One decision which I know with certainty is right, and that is the decision to encourage the congregations to pray for the churches in the Netherlands—not with a condescending arrogance as though somehow we are superior to them. For God knows that we have our own troubles and need their prayers just as much as they need our prayers. Even now we earnestly pray that the Lord and King of the Church may work powerfully in Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, that there might be reconciliation based on the truth of God's Word. Humanly speaking, we might feel that that is impossible. But then I think of the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:20 "[God] ... is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." For to the King of the Church belongs all the power.
As far as New Zealand is concerned, you, Rev Archbald, will have to go back and inform your churches that little has changed in our relationship. It might seem that we are in a stale-mate. But church history shows that there are always changing developments in every church. Both the Spirit of Christ and the spirit of the Antichrist are at work. In the church there is either ongoing reformation, or there is deformation. So only the Lord knows what tomorrow will bring as far as our relationship is concerned. Be assured that we are genuine when we express our desire to enter into sister relations with you when that impediment is removed.
As our foreign delegates return to their homelands, we pray that the Lord may grant His blessings to you personally and to "your" churches.
There are a few people that should be specifically thanked for their contributions to this synod. Earlier I spoke about the lunch table, and the coffee breaks. I want to thank the ladies who have catered for our physical needs. They have done admirably—perhaps too admirably. I'm hoping against hope that when I return home, my bathroom scale will not inform me that I over indulged. But I fear the worst, for the food was plentiful and scrumpt-dilly-ishess. Thanks very much, ladies.
We extend our thanks to the church of Legana, our hosting church. Your preparations were top notch, and you provided a venue that was most conducive to meeting together. I only wish the tables had been arranged in a circle, so that I could better impersonate the legendary king of ancient lore. Also thanks to our audio-visual-computer assistant for keeping us in good communication with each other, and making sure that we print what needed printing. We trust that br. Posthuma will not need extensive services of a chiropractor as a result of craning his neck.
On your behalf and mine, I want to thank our vice-chairman, Rev Veldman, who even from the vice-chairman's seat gave good direction to the synod. Thanks also to our first and second clerk, Rev Smith and Rev Eikelboom. I would never envy the first-clerk's job. And had the first clerk been a less-gifted person, the clerical duties would have virtually silenced him. But that didn't happen. Rev Smith was able to do two things at once. We heard him speaking, while the keys of the keyboard kept clicking. And when he wasn't speaking, we could hear the gears of his minds turning as he listened to the conversations, and kept typing. This should be stated, so that future synods can again make use of his skills.
Thanks also to our Administrative Assistant, Dong Woo Oh. I understand that with his help, the Acts will be for the greater part ready for publication before the week is over. Amazing! And to think that we decided that the Acts should be printed within six months. Depending on the printer, they may well be in our possession in six weeks. We may live up to the decision of 1978 after all.
Thank you also, fellow delegates, for your patience towards the chair. At times, when the proposals were multiplying fast and furiously, he was at a loss what to do. It was good, wasn't it, to have a well-experienced vice-chairman!
Now that our work here at Synod is complete, we must commend our work to the Lord with the prayer that He will bless our labour and make good come from it. For without the blessing of the Lord, all our work is futile. As we sing in our rhymed version of Psalm 127.
Unless the Lord will build the House,
It's builders toil in useless pain;
The city's keepers watch in vain
Unless the Lord its cause espouse.
No enterprise can have success
Unless the Lord decides to bless.
last updated 26 Jun 2009