Alliance of Reformed Churches (ARC) Convenes

The annual meeting of the Alliance of Reformed Churches was convened on November 15, 1994, at the Lynwood Christian Reformed Church Independent of Lynwood, Illinois. More than sixty churches were represented by delegates. Several churches had sent official observers. Greetings were brought by the fraternal delegates of churches whose interest in the Alliance has been a source of encouragement. It is interesting to observe how the composition of the Alliance is changing. In the early years of the Alliance the majority of churches represented were members of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Two or three years ago the membership was rather evenly divided between churches who were still federated and those churches who had severed their relationship with the denomination. Today the membership of the Alliance is primarily composed of churches who are identified as independent.

During the opening session, Mr. Peter Elzinga, a member of The Reformed Heritage Church of Holland, Michigan was elected chairman. Dr. Ed Kreykes, who serves as an elder in the newly organized Cornerstone Orthodox Reformed Church of Sanbom, Iowa was chosen to serve as vice-chairman. Rev. Jerome Julien, pastor of the Independent Reformed Church of Sheffield, Ontario continues to serve as stated clerk.



Dr. P.Y. De Jong whose commitment to the propagation and defense of the Reformed faith is well-known, set the tone for the three day meeting as he addressed the delegates and friends of the Alliance gathered for the opening rally on Tuesday evening. Dr. De Jong chose as his theme, “For Such a Time as This—the Reformed Faith.” After establishing the need for the Reformed faith in our day because of the compromise and emptiness which marks our society, the speaker outlined for his audience the distinctiveness of the Reformed faith. No one who was present will soon forget the relating of the lesson learned by Dr. De Jong as a young boy when an immigrant homemaker said to him, “When you become a preacher always begin with and end with God, otherwise your people will be left without an anchor.” The speaker then suggested several ways in which the churches can express that faith today.

An issue of great concern to the churches of the Alliance is the matter of federation. This concern could be sensed in all the discussions that took place during the meetings. Some are ready for immediate organization, while others believe that more time must elapse and that greater preparation is needed before organization of any kind can occur. A small minority still question the need for any kind of federation. The prevailing opinion, however, is that there must be a federation of some kind sooner or later. As one delegate observed, “We surely don’t want one big pope, but neither do we want a bunch of little popes.”

The move toward federation began to crystallize last year when a committee was appointed to draw up a church order. The committee was mandated to draft a provisional church order using the Church Order of Dort as its point of departure, with careful attention given to guarding against hierarchical abuses. The committee, after a year of diligent work, came to the alliance meeting with a provisional church order comprised of seventy-one articles. This church order must be submitted to the committee by March 1, 1995. The committee was also requested to formulate in writing the Biblical principles by which it was guided in its work so that this material will be available to the churches as they study the proposed church order.

The council of the Aylmer Independent Christian Reformed church had overtured the alliance to establish an avenue by which the independent and unaffiliated churches might arrive at and agree to move toward the use of a common name. This matter was referred to the church order committee.

There has been an interest in recent years among some of the churches of the Alliance to give recognition in some way to the Westminster Standards. It was decided at this year’s meeting to revise the purpose statement of the Alliance to read as follows: “The Alliance of Reformed Churches is an association of churches that are united in an effort to give effective testimony to the truth of the Word of God as it is set forth in either the Three Forms of Unity or the Westminster Standards, and to assist the member churches in promoting ecclesiastical unity and Biblical obedience among the people of God.” It was also decided to appoint a committee to present a report demonstrating to the churches the unity between the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Standards and to identify any differences which may exist between them.

A committee was appointed to recommend specific liturgical forms and a specific form of subscription for use in the churches of the Alliance.

The members of the Alliance began their sessions with the singing of Psalm 8. To hear more than two hundred men joined in the singing of the Songs of Zion is no small part of the blessedness of attendance at the Alliance. As we made our way through the affairs of the sessions, we became increasingly aware of the greatness and faithfulness of our God who always preserves for Himself a church committed to the propagation and defense of the faith committed to us.

Rev. Besteman is pastor of Beverly Christian Reformed Church Independent.