Present were: Dr. Nelson Kloosterman, Rev. William Pols, Rev. Ronald Scheuers, Rev. Raymond Sikkema and Mr. Harry Van Gurp, representing the United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA), and Dr. Gijsbert Nederveen, Mr. Gerard J. Nordeman, Rev. John VanWoudenberg and Dr. Art Witten of the Canadian Reformed Churches (CanRC). Dr. Kloosterman opened the meeting with Scripture reading and prayer.
The minutes of the November 4–6, 2003 meeting were reviewed and approved after some minor corrections were noted. An agenda and timetable for the next three days were circulated and adopted.
Recent synods of the respective federations dealt with the reports submitted by the committees. Synod Chatham 2004 of the CanRC expressed its thankfulness for the quality and thoroughness of the work that the Joint Church Order committee has been able to complete, thus far, and for the brotherly harmony that has been experienced. This Synod further encouraged the churches to forward their suggestions directly to the committee for its consideration. It reappointed the committee to continue with its earlier mandate and, in addition, to formulate a draft proposal of regulations for General Synod. Synod Calgary 2004 of the URCNA adopted all of the committee’s recommendations and encouraged the churches to interact directly with the committee regarding their work. It further authorized its church order committee to develop rules for General Synod.
Correspondence was received from one URCNA and two CanRC consistories with comments and reactions to some of the proposals formulated. This material was circulated and each respective committee will draft a report for later discussion.
A review of the articles thus far adopted resulted in a few modifications. It included a further discussion on the use of the term ‘council’ versus ‘consistory with the deacons’. No final decision was made. It is agreed that the consistory is the ruling assembly in the church. Also the use of the words ‘ordained’ versus ‘installed’ received attention with a view to correctness and consistency.
Art. 8 C.O. Dort was placed back on the table as the result of a letter received from a church. The CanRC brothers will serve the committee with a proposal at the next meeting.
The matter of delegation to General Synod was again revisited. After an extensive debate and the consider ation that a broader assembly isdeliberative in nature, it was decided that each second last classisbefore general synod shall choose 2 ministers and 2 elders as delegates to General Synod.A report on ‘gaps’ that currently exist in the development of a Joint Church Order (JCO) was reviewed. The following articles were decided on: It was agreed to leave out Art 15 C.O. Dort as the first part was considered no longer relevant in this age, and the second part is covered elsewhere in the JCO. Article 18 in Dort deals with the office of Professor of Theology. As this is not a recognized office in the proposed church order, this article will be omitted. Re: Art. 24 C.O. Dort. “The duties belonging to the office of deacon consists of exercising and supervising the works of Christian mercy in the congregation. They shall do this by acquainting themselves with congregational needs; exhorting members of the congregation to show mercy; gathering and managing the offerings of God’s people in Christ’s name, and distributing these offerings according to need; continuing in prayer; and encouraging and comforting with the Word of God those who receive the gifts of Christ’s mercy. Needs of those outside the congregation, especially of other believers, should also be considered. The deacons shall ordinarily meet monthly to transact the business pertaining to their office, and they shall render a monthly account of their work to the Consistory. The deacons may invite the minister to visit their meetings in order to acquaint him with their work and request his advice.”
The concern of Art. 40 Dort is also included in the above.
Re: Art. 28 Dort with respect to Civil Authorities was considered to be very relevant in today’s age. Rev. Sikkema was asked to present a proposed wording for this article at the next meeting.
Re: Art. 31 Dort dealing with the right to appeal was discussed at length for a proper understanding of this process. The Revs. Nederveen and Scheuers were asked to draft a proposal.
Re: Art. 37 and 38 about the assembly of the consistory, it was agreed that “in each church there shall be a consistory composed of minister(s) of the Word and the elders, which shall ordinarily meet at least once a month. The consistory is the only assembly which exercises direct authority within the congregation, since the consistory receives it authority directly from Christ.” Whether the minister should preside over the meetings of the consistory is also the question of one of the letters received from the churches. The CanRC brothers will formulate a proposal for the next meeting on this issue.
Where a consistory is to be constituted for the first time, it shall be done only with the concurring advice of Classis.
The next meeting will take place D.V. November 9–11, 2004 in the Grand Rapids area. Further meetings were tentatively panned for March 15–17, August 9–11 and November 15–17, 2005
The press release was read and approved for publication.
In his closing remarks Dr. Kloosterman stated his thankfulness to the Lord for the brotherly manner in which the committee again could proceed with its work. A considerable amount of work could be accomplished.
After Scripture reading and closing prayer by Rev. Sikkema, the meeting was adjourned.
For the Committee Gerard J. Nordeman