URCNA Synod-6: Guidelines, forms, and definitions

Some delegates were surprised at the quick adoption of the recommendation to accept the OPC’s offer to work together on a songbook, especially when the discussion about what comprises a “thoroughly Reformed theological education” generated extensive discussion.

Concerns were expressed that the language of “courses” could have unintended consequences for both seminarians and seminaries. A motion made to refer the document back to committee for refinement failed. The advisory committee had suggested changing “minimum requirement” to “guidelines” and that slightly modified version was adopted, but only after delegates had been assured that these are indeed “guidelines” (not “requirements”) and that all the seminaries currently utilized by URCNA members were in compliance with them.

An advisory committee recommended that Synod not accede to the overture requesting the establishment of an appeals committee. This passed quickly after one of the men who originally brought forward the overture stated that he could live with the grounds listed in the response and felt it was a good decision.

Next up was discussion about liturgical forms. The committee recommended that Synod not accede to the the overture that requested changing “complete remission” to “complete forgiveness” and included some detailed grounds. A second recommendation was for the Liturgical Forms Committee to remain consistent with its guding principles and consider substituting “forgiveness” for “remission” in provisional Lord’s Supper forms. Both recommendations passed.

Synod then dealt with the question of adopting the forms and prayers printed in the agenda for provisional use among the churches. Some delegates expressed concerns about specific items in the forms, but the advisory committee stressed that “provisional use” means churches do not have to use any forms they consider objectionable and now have the opportunity to inform the Liturgical Forms and Confessions committee of problems that need to be addressed.

When Rev. John Bouwers said, “I’m not convinced that we need multiple versions of every form,” committee member Rev. William Van der Woerd responded, “If it’s the will of the churches that we provide fewer forms, we’d be happy to do that.”

Since the agenda was printed, several forms have been updated. The most recent version of the proposed forms will be distributed to the churches via email for review and provisional use. Specific concerns are then to be directed via email to the committee’s chair, Rev. Danny Hyde.

Those who have attended previous synods know the consternation created by the adoption of documents without a clear definition of how they are to be regarded by the churches. AnAd Hocsynodical procedures committee had been asked to address this issue. The committee requested that Synod 2012 adopt its suggested Definitions and Authority of Synodical Actions as Appendix D of Regulations for Synodical Procedure. The advisory committee did some minor editing to the document, which Synod then adopted.    

Finally, a communication received the night before Synod was ruled out of order since it failed to meet the deadline for inclusion on the agenda of Synod.

This report written by Glenda Mathes, contributing writer for Christian Renewal.

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