>Synod: CERCU Guidelines

>Another federative unity issue that relates to the merger with the CanRC was revision to CERCU’s guidelines. Overtures 3 & 15 requested the removal of the phrase “and in preparation for and commitment to eventual integrated federative church unity” from the Phase 2 definition. Each overture also suggested dividing Phase 3 into specific steps.

Advisory Committee 5 examined these overtures and made slight amendments to the changes proposed in Overture 15 before recommending its adoption.

More amendments were offered during the discussion on the floor of Synod. The amendment that occasioned the most debate was the phrase “in preparation for and commitment to,” which had been described as “problematic.” The Advisory Committee had suggested “with a view and commitment toward possible…”

Rev. James Sinke expressed his concern with the word “possible.”

“The reality is that we have a commitment,” he said, using the analogy of engagement. “When I asked my wife seven years ago if she would marry me and she said, ‘yes’; I did not say, ‘We may possibly get married.'”

Eventually, Phase 2’s “in preparation for and commitment to eventual integrated federative church unity” was changed to “in acknowledgement of the desirability of eventual integrated federative church unity.”

The Advisory Committee recommended Overture 15’s plan to divide Phase Three into a two-step process: Step A (developing a plan for ecclesiastical union) and Step B (implementing the plan).

Rev. Phil Vos continued Rev. Sinke’s analogy: “Phase 2 is dating. Step A would be the engagement; Step B would be the wedding.”

There was a great deal of discussion about the changes to Phase 3. Rev. Wybren Oord made a motion to postpone the matter indefinitely, which Rev. Bill Pols spoke against, saying, “That would send a rather sad message to our Canadian Reformed brothers.”

Rev. Oord asked, “If the majority of our consistories do not want to be in Stage 3A, isn’t that exactly what we want to know?”

The motion to postpone indefinitely failed. After more discussion, the changes to Phase 3 were approved and Synod declared its actions as its answer to Overtures 3 & 15.

These changes created a practical problem because the work of the existing “unity” committees with the CanRC now properly belong under Step A of Phase 3; however, the URCNA is only in Phase 2 relations with the CanRC.

Later in the proceedings, Advisory Committee 5 brought an “exception” recommendation before Synod:

“By way of exception to the adopted guidelines for Ecumenical and Church Unity, Synod allow the current unity committees of the URCNA Federation (whose work properly belongs to Phase 3A) to continue working with their corresponding CanRC committees while the two federations continue to function in Phase 2.”

That exception was adopted.

When the Canadian Reformed fraternal delegates were ready to leave Synod 2007, Mr. Gerry Nordeman was given the privilege of the floor to say a few words of farewell:

“We are not leaving with bitterness or disappointment,” he said. “In fact, we are encouraged by your commitment to federative unity. We have heard the dating analogy often used and the comment made that now we are engaged. We prefer another analogy. We were one at one time and have become estranged or separated, and now are working toward becoming one again.”

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