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The final (published) version of the Acts of Synod 2009 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.
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Synod Legana 2009
Response by Reverend A Veldman
Response to the address of brother P Drijfhout of the Reformed Churches (restored) of the Netherlands
Thursday 18th June 2009, Synod Legana, Tasmania, 2009 (Acts Article 44)

It's for the second time that we may welcome you in our midst. Having listened to your address of last evening we feel the unity in faith. In that unity, each in the place where God has set us, together we fight for the truth of Scripture and the honour of Him in whose service we stand. This evening I would like to stress that we indeed stand together in fighting this fight, even though we as FRCA evaluate the developments in The Netherlands in a way different to what you would like us to do. Brothers, let us acknowledge this unity first, on which basis there should be a willingness to listen to each other in sincerity, without straightaway condemning each other.
In this respect I must say there is hurt from our side when we read the letter, dated May 19th in which you condemn us for still having a relationship with our sister churches in The Netherlands. We share many of the concerns you have, and so do many brothers and sisters within the RCN, who as yet have not seen their way clear to break. We want to be a hand and a foot also to them. For us the question is how do we deal with an erring sister. I think it's wrong to say that by keeping up a relationship with an erring sister by implication we are also guilty of the sins of that sister. That's not how it works within normal family relationships either. The point is how do you use that relationship? We as FRCA have tried to utilize the sister church relationship to its utmost to warn the churches in The Netherlands and we are thankful for the times that they have heeded this warning, even though we would have loved to see that they had heeded these warnings even more. It shows there is still a basis on which we can reach out.
Personally, I have experienced this very strongly, when last year at the General Synod in Zwolle Zuid there was a listening ear for the strong warning of the foreign delegates, who with one voice said, if you accept the majority report with respect to the contacts with Dutch Reformed Churches, this will lead to breaking our contacts with you. I know one can in a sceptic way say, synod only put on the breaks, but in the meantime, the train goes on. I even realize that there might be some truth in this saying. Yet I put it to you: when I go on a visit of admonition to a brother living in sin, and the brother says to me that he will listen, and I see also some actions accordingly, then at times in my heart I may have doubts about the brother's sincerity. Yet I take the brother's word and as a consistory, you don't start exercising discipline, but instead you keep close contact with the brother reminding him of the warnings given. Perhaps the parallel is not completely right. However, I hope it gives you some idea where we stand with respect to our relationship with our sister churches in The Netherlands. We share much of the concerns you have, yet for us at present the time has not come yet to draw consequences to the extent that we will break the sister church relationship we have. This does not mean that we will not use strong language in dealing with our sister. I hope that also the decisions to be taken by this synod will make it clear that we do not deal lightly with the concerns we have, even though you would like us to take a much stronger stand.

In the speech of last night, you expressed disappointment about the fact that we have not interacted with the material you sent us. Yet, brothers, in 2005 our deputies met with you and discussed at length your letter of 4 February 2005. Our Acts of Synod 2006, pages 326 - 365 (40 pages!) give an extensive overview of this discussion. For us it was disappointing that in the booklet of 2006 we simply read a repeat of your letter of February 2005, and so you did your chairman in response to my speech, which I delivered at your synod in May 2008. It's as we have reached a stalemate and that there is nothing to discuss anymore as long as we do not break our ties with our sister churches. I don't say these things to be nasty, yet I wonder why can't we work together in a better way, weighing some of the arguments which we have been brought forward and this in such a way that perhaps with one voice we can warn our erring sister. Repeating the same things does not always help. Again, I think of going on a visit to a young brother of the congregation, who lives a sinful lifestyle. Not so long ago I did, and the brother said, you don't have to come with the same message as the previous time, for I know what is wrong. How should we deal with such a brother, how to break through the stalemate to reach this brother? This takes effort, but sometimes you still have to go that other mile to reach out to that brother with the love of Christ.

Brothers, I started by stressing the unity we have with you. Somehow we even understand why in 2003 for some members within the churches in The Netherlands it became all too much. If on Sunday you go with trepidation to church, wondering what the preaching will bring and time and time again you lack the true spiritual food you need to be fed with, then not only for yourself but also for your children you say, here I can no longer go. Some of you have shared this experience with me. At the same time, this does not mean those who still are fed Sunday after Sunday with the true preaching of the gospel, also have to break. Please, brothers, give those members time. As far as I can see, things are crystallizing, and it will come to a head eventually. There are parallels in history, where there were also times that children of God did not come to the same conclusion at the same time. I think of the 19th century with respect to the First and Second Secession. However, even more strongly it reminds of what happened in the 60th in the previous century, when it came to a separation with the 'buitenverbanders', what is now the Dutch Reformed Churches. Early in the sixties there were already some splits, for example in Kampen. Yet the vast majority was not that far yet. It was in 1967 after the "Open Brief" that the matter became much more clear.

Brothers together with you we want to fight for the truth and the honour in whose service we stand. Please accept our sincerity in doing this, even when the final decisions of this synod might be that we will continue our relationship with our sister churches. Please keep standing besides us in warning an erring sister, and this in a brotherly way, which does not mean at all that one cannot use very strong language by calling a spade a spade, also when it comes to sinful situations and I'm sure this synod will do so. Please, brothers, keep standing besides us in this, without condemning us. If you are willing to do so, there is an avenue to walk together, even without sister church relationship.

In the unity of this faith we wish you God's blessing, whereby it is our sincere prayer, as we expressed it in the synod decision of 2006, that the rift between brothers may be healed on the basis of truth, love and humility. Indeed, first of all on the basis of truth, but let us not forget about the love and the humility, which the LORD also requires of us.

Thank you

last updated 22 Jun 2009
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