Report to Classis of the CERCU Classical Representative October 2013

The Committee for Ecumenical Relations and Church Unity (CERCU) is looking forward to the upcoming meetings of NAPARC to be held in Bonclarken, North Carolina, the conference grounds of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP), November 19–20. It is our practice, as a committee, to take the opportunity afforded by NAPARC to gather our whole committee together. Before, during, and after the meetings of NAPARC, we take opportunity to meet among ourselves as CERCU and to pursue bilateral meetings with other churches with which we continue to pursue ecumenical fellowship. Meetings are scheduled this year for further dialogue with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), the Reformed Church of Quebec (ERQ), the Heritage Reformed Churches (HRC), and the Canadian Reformed (CanRC). Meeting as a committee in conjunction with NAPARC and conducting bilateral meetings at the same time saves much time and money for all involved.

We currently relate to denominations or federations of like faith in North America (which presently equates with all of the churches of NAPARC) in two categories. Following are the denominations with whom we are working with a view toward complete church unity as God gives us wisdom, strength, and opportunity.

Churches in phase 1—corresponding relations

Free Reformed Churches (FRC)

Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA)

Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARPC)

Heritage Reformed Churches (HRC)

Korean American Presbyterian Church (KAPC)

Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)

Presbyterian Reformed Church

Churches in phase 2—ecclesiastical fellowship

Canadian Reformed Churches (CanRC)

Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC)

Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS)

Reformed Church of Quebec / L’Eglise Reformee du Quebec (ERQ)

Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA)

We are grateful that since our last meeting of NAPARC, our consistories ratified with a healthy majority Synod 2012’s decision to enter into phase 2 ecclesiastical fellowship with the RPCNA. Our ecumenical relations committee is currently engaged in subcommittee meetings in the Ontario, Canada, area with the Free Reformed Churches of North America. We have been discussing together the need for the appropriation of salvation among covenant children and have focused particularly on a discussion of The Conclusions of Utrecht—a decision of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands from 1905—that has bearing on our respective histories as federations. We are hoping that a mutual understanding of the challenges these decisions brought into our relationship will be helpful for the progress of our relationship. We are also pleased that the last synod of the Heritage Reformed Congregations has moved us forward to their level 2 of ecumenical relations (formal correspondence, which corresponds with our phase 1—corresponding relations). In further developments, our committee hopes to continue to make preparations for a proposal to our synod in 2016 to move to a phase 3A relationship with the Canadian Reformed Churches. This phase would entail the development of a plan of union as preliminary to an eventual merger of our federation of churches with the Canadian Reformed Churches, should the Lord be pleased to bless our efforts.

In the present circumstances, we see it as our task as a committee to continue to foster an environment of mutual understanding and appreciation among the churches: for each other, for our ecumenical calling, and in recognition of any concerns and fears regarding the pursuit of this calling. With a view to the ongoing development of such mutual understanding, appreciation, and growing expressions of unity, and, we trust, with all of the patience and forbearance this entails, as a committee, we continue to labor with the conviction that the glory of our Savior is promoted by the visible unity of his church.

CERCU representatives welcome and encourage the feedback, suggestions, and concerns of the churches regarding each of these matters. Written communications are appreciated, but more particularly, some dialogue and interaction on the floor of classis is requested in order that we may seek to engage one another in our ecumenical calling together.

Rev. Ralph Pontier is the Pastor at the United Reformed Church in Neerlandia, AB and serves on the CERCU Committee.