>Synod: Joint Church Order

>My previous post detailed some of the lively debate on the floor of Synod Schererville 2007 concerning the songbook. But in addition to the Songbook Committee, the URCNA has two other “unity” committees working with their Canadian Reformed counterparts: the Joint Church Order Committee and the Theological Education Committee.

The Joint Church Order Committee has made great progress, while the Theological Education Committee reported that its work with the CanRC committee was “at an impasse.”

Joint Church Order
The Joint Church Order Committee presented Synod with a Proposed Joint Church Order (PJCO) and appendices comprising 63 pages of the agenda. This included a 27-page chart comparing the proposed Church Order to the Church Orders of Dort, the Canadian Reformed Churches, and the URCNA.

Synod voted to give the PJCO and comparison chart to the churches for “discussion.” The Joint Church Order Committee will now become the PJCO Committee. It will handle all correspondence from the churches related to the PJCO, present no more than eight regional conferences regarding the PJCO, and prepare a report for Synod 2010.

It’s important to note that Synod did not deal with the PJCO content; that review is the responsibility of each consistory. Synod dealt only with procedural recommendations regarding the PJCO. And the only matter that occasioned debate was the minority report on a single item, Article 35.

The PJCO Art. 35 emphasizes the principal place of the Psalms in “the singing of the churches” and states that in “worship services, the congregation shall sing faithful musical renderings of the Psalms, and hymns which faithfully and fully reflect the teaching of Scripture in harmony with the Three Forms of Unity, provided they are approved by general synod.

The minority report proposed changing “approved by general synod” to “approved by the consistory in accord with a synodically adopted standard.”

Synod’s Advisory Committee recommended adoption of the minority report, but there was some discussion about its adoption. Dr. Nelson Kloosterman, one of the minorty report’s authors, spoke against its adoption.

“I believe there’s a better way,” he said, mentioning the use of language expressing a “strong preference” instead of adopting the minority report at this Synod. “I think this confuses the matter of the status of the PJCO.” He went on to say that “we can trust” the Synod of 2010 to deal with this, but it is not a decision that should be made “here and now.”

The motion to adopt the minority report failed, and a second motion to present both reports “without prejudice” to the churches also failed. A third motion that “Synod express a strong preference for the Minority Report” regarding Article 35 of the PJCO passed handily.

Consistories must communicate any suggestions or concerns regarding the PJCO to the PJCO Committee before March 1, 2009, so that a summary of all communications may be sent to the consistories by June 1, 2009.

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