On Friday evening several decisions were made regarding inter-church relations. Synod decided to continue maintain contact with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Some of the churches had expressed concerns — Synod acknowledged them and mandated our Deputies to investigate. Some of the churches had expressed a desire for further ecumenical contact with the OPC — Synod acknowledged those too and to that end decided to stay the course. A decision was also made to stay the course with De Gereformeerde Kerken and Gereformeerde Kerken Nederland, maintaining contact and “subject to the outcomes of this contact, work towards entering a sister-church relationship.”
On Saturday the delegates were treated to a 4x4ing expedition to West Cape Howe, the most southerly point of mainland Australia. Good fun!
Today there’s been some committee work again and some discussion about advisory committee proposals. The only noteworthy decision so far was on a letter from FRC Darling Downs asking Synod to judge that the last synod “erred in approving additional hymns without interacting with their concerns about the increasing the number of hymns.” Synod decided that Synod 2018 did not err on this. Synod also affirmed “the importance of the singing of Psalms in the worship services.”
We’re currently about to begin our evening session — hopefully there’ll be more to report on tomorrow.
Rev. H. Alkema and Rev. A. Souman, the vice-chairman and chairman of Synod 2018.
Synod 2018 of the FRCA is now done and dusted. We finished up this memorable assembly on Tuesday evening. Later I may share some personal reflections on my first synod experience. For now, let me summarize some the most important decisions made on Monday and Tuesday. For more details, you can refer to the Acts here. And the official press release can be found here.
Relations with De Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland (DGK) and Gereformeerde Kerken Nederland (GKN), two church federations made up of varying degrees of ex-RCN members, were discussed. Synod decided to monitor and maintain contact with both. It was also decided to monitor the DGK’s relationship with the Liberated Reformed Church of Abbotsford, a group that had broken away from the CanRC.
Three personal appeals were submitted concerning the Reformed Churches of New Zealand — all three were declared inadmissible.
The proposals regarding an FRCA seminary were discussed at length. Synod decided not to establish such a seminary at this time, but to pursue it in the medium-long term (6-12 years out). The dream is still alive.
Two churches submitted proposals regarding sending observers to the next ICRC regional and general meetings — both proposals were declared inadmissible.
The Orthodox Presbyterian Church sent a representative to synod in the person of Rev. Jack Sawyer. A church had submitted a proposal to establish official contact with the OPC and this met with approval.
To implement the earlier decision regarding the Australian Book of Praise, synod decided to establish a Standing Committee for the Australian Book of Praise (with the rather elegant acronym SCABP).
For some years, the FRCA has been supporting theological education in Indonesia via synodically appointed deputies. This will continue for the next three years, but these deputies have been mandated to transition this matter over to a local church.
Several changes to our psalms, confessions and Church Order were proposed and discussed. Of these changes, the only one adopted was a change to article 36 of the Church Order. It now says that the minister shall chair consistory meetings “as a rule.” This means that, by way of exception, elders may also chair these meetings.
Synod decided that all acts of all FRCA synods will be published online in searchable .pdf format.
Finally, synod decided to send a letter to Synod 2020 of the RCN communicating our decision to terminate the relationship with them. This letter will be delivered by two deputies in person to underline the seriousness of the matter.
There were two noteworthy items. One is a bit baffling to an outsider. Articles 106 and 109 deal with an appeal from the church at Busselton. This is baffling because there’s no background provided in the Acts. If you don’t know the background, the decision doesn’t mean very much. All I can say is that it looks like it had something to do with labour union membership.
The other item worthy of note has to do with one of the church federations made up of brothers and sisters who’ve left the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated). Their Dutch name is De Gereformeerde Kerken (Hersteld), translated as The Reformed Churches (Restored), usually abbreviated as DGK. Their website can be found here. The FRCA have been in contact with these churches. One of the complicating factors with the DGK is their official relationship with a group of schismatics calling themselves the Liberated Reformed Church at Abbotsford. This group broke away from the Canadian Reformed Churches some years ago over concerns of “increasing corruption.” Synod Baldivis decided to maintain some contact with the DGK and with another group of churches known as Gereformeerde Kerken Nederland (made up also of those who left the RCN). The Australian churches will continue to monitor developments in the Netherlands and the deputies will also liaise with their Canadian Reformed counterparts. Will one or both of these Dutch churches some day be in a sister church relationship with the FRCA? Time will tell…