Even the possible appointment of another person to the committee generated a level of discussion that eventually resulted in calling for the question. The debate led Rev. Rand Lankheet, a member of the committee, to plead against appointments from the floor of Synod. Another committee member, Rev. Dick Wynia, acknowledged that the committee might have failed to “communicate adequately” with the churches, but that the committee is functioning well with its current composition. Although the committee has lost two members, Synod acceded to the committee’s recommendation not to appoint additional members.
But the request to clarify the songbook committee’s mandate, which appeared both in Overture 4 & Overture 17, escalated the conversation.
The songbook committee itself had recommended that Synod maintain the goal for a common songbook, but establish that a common songbook not be a condition for federative unity. Synod’s Advisory Committee 9 agreed that “substantial work has been done by the committee…which we expect will be of benefit to the URCNA, regardless of whether we ever merge with the Canadian Reformed Churches.”
It was apparent from financial reports submitted to Synod 2007, that funding for the songbook has been minimal. U.S. Treasurer Peter J. Moen was permitted to address the assembly and noted that 87% of the US churches “chose not to submit any funding toward the songbook” last year. Funding from Canadian churches appeared to be even less.
Rev. Wybren Oord said, “I’m becoming more and more convinced that the finances are not coming because people do not perceive the need.”
When Rev. Larry Johnson asked when the committee projected the hymnal would be completed, Rev. Wynia answered, “Approximately eight years,” explaining the process and current procedures.
Rev. Dennis Royall reminded delegates of the “United” in our federation’s name and said the discussion made his “heart very heavy.”
“We have a name,” he said, “and that name desired to draw all of us under the same precious banner.”
The Advisory Committee had recommended that Synod not accede to Overture 17, but that recommendation failed, even with a subsequent show of hands.
Synod then voted to adopt Overture 17, clarifying “this song book” in the committee’s mandate as focusing on a songbook that “will serve the churches of our federation” regardless of whether the URCNA is in ecclesiastical fellowship with other federations. Again a show of hands was called.
The chair was then asked to determine if further clarification was needed. After a break, the chair ruled that Overture 17 includes the necessary clarification. His ruling was challenged, but upheld by vote. There was a further motion to rescind the vote, but that motion failed.
It was later reiterated that clarifying the committee’s mandate to focus on a songbook for the URCNA does not preclude its continued work with the CanRC Book of Praise Committee.