>Synod: Church Order Changes & OCRC

>In addition to the five previous posts dealing with federative unity, Synod adopted some Church Order changes that clarify the ratification process. But, among all the actions Synod took to clarify and slow the unification process, it took sudden action when it invited the Orthodox Christian Reformed Churches (OCRC) to join with the URCNA in church unity.

Article 36
Overtures 1 & 6 suggested clarifications in Article 36, which deals with the majority needed to ratify entering into ecumenical relationships. Appeal 1 was also related to Article 36.

The appeal asked Synod to reverse a decision of Synod Calgary 2004, so that “majority of consistories” would be defined as “majority of consistories voting in the ratification process.” The Advisory Committee recommended and Synod voted not to sustain the appeal.

The Advisory Committee noted that Overtures 1 & 6 were very similar and found “compelling” grounds in each. The Committee added a phrase from Overture 1 to the recommendation of Overture 6 and suggested adopting grounds from each overture.

Peter Moen, Sr. moved an amendment to change the “two-thirds” majority required for both the synodical and consistorial votes to “three-fourths” majority.

Speaking against that motion, Rev. Rand Lankheet said, “A professor of church polity once said, ‘There’s such a thing as a majority, but there’s also such a thing as tyranny of the minority.'”

The amendment for “three-fourths” failed.

The Advisory Committee motions passed and Synod declared them as its answer to Overtures 1 & 6.

The Article 36 revision now reads: “The federation may enter into ecumenical relations with other federations by synodical decision. Such a decision with respect to Ecclesiastical Fellowship shall require ratification by a majority of the synodically approved consistories in the federation. Such a decision with respect to Church Union shall require a two-thirds vote of a synod and shall require ratification by two-thirds of the synodically approved consistories in the federation.”

Since this is a change to the Church Order, it must be approved by the consistories, who have until May 1, 2008, to submit their responses.

Article 66
Overture 2 requested a similar change to Article 66, which deals with ratification of changes to the Church Order. The addition of the phrases “synodically approved” and “of the federation” help clarify what is meant by “majority of consistories.”

With little discussion, Synod quickly adopted the overture. Consistories have until May 1, 2008, to respond to the change.

OCRC
In what may have been a surprise to many delegates, Synod Schererville 2007 re-extended to the OCRC the invitation of Synod Hudsonville 1999 for federative union.

The adopted recommendation was to invite the OCRC to unite with the URCNA in federative union on the basis of the Three Forms of Unity and the Church Order. It listed six grounds for the action.

Should the OCRC accept the invitation, it will be received without its ministers being required to undergo colloquia docta.

Since this invitation relates to Church Order Article 36, it requires ratification from the URCNA consistories before January 1, 2008.

CERCU’s report in the Synod agenda noted the difficult situation in which the OCRC finds itself, having recently been reduced to only five congregations.

In his earlier address to the delegates, the OCRC’s fraternal delegate, Rev. Martin Overgaauw, spoke movingly about the close relationship between the two federations.

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