Synod 1999 of the United Reformed Churches in North America

On June 15–17, 1999, the United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA) will hold synod meetings for the third time in its short history. Delegates from more than 70 churches will come from the United States and Canada to Cornerstone United Reformed Church in Hudsonville, Michigan, a small town about 12 miles west of Grand Rapids.

Several overtures and a reportfrom the Ecumenical Relations and Church Unity committee indicatethat ecumenical matters will characterize this year’s synod, An overture from Classis Western Canada requests that the URCNA officially invite the Orthodox Christian Reformed Churches (OCRC) to unite in federative union. A broader overture from Classis Southwest US requests synod “to instruct its Committee for Ecumenical Relations and Church Unity to extend an invitation to other faithful Reformed Churches to begin with them serious discussions with a goal of joining each body into a General Synod (or Assembly) of a single new denomination, each body constituting a particular Synod.” The Ecumenial Relations and Church Unity committee reports that it has had differing degrees of communications tions with eleven denominations.These denominations are: ASSOciateReformed Presbyterian Church; Canadian and American Reformed Churches; Christian ReformedChurch in Myanmar; Free Reformed Churches of North America; Independent Presbyterian Church of Mexico; Orthordox Christian Reformed Church; Orthodox Prebyterian Church; Presbyterian Church in America; Protestant Reformed Churches in America; Reformed Church of Quebec (L’EngliseReformee du Quebec); and the Reformed Church in the United States.This committee is recommending to synod that the URCNA enter into “Corresponding Relations” with the Canadian Reformed Churches, the Free Reformed Churches and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. “Corresponding Relations” is a first phase of ecumenical relations. The desire, after correspondence, dialogue and agreement on various areas of the churches’ life, would beto enter phase two, “Ecclesiastical Fellowship.” The third phase would be “Church Union.”

Other overtures along with the Federative Structure committee arerequesting that the URCNA be incorporated as a “not-for-profit” organization in both the United States and Canada, and that it apply for Recognition of Exemption under Section 501 (C)(3) of the US Internal Revenue Code and its Canadian equivalent.

Two classes sent overtures requesting the URCNA to explore the options and reqUirements of settingup a pension plan and health plan for pastors and other employees ofthe churches.

Synod ‘97 appointed a Psalter Hymnal committee to explore what is required to produce, reproduce, or obtain a Psalter Hymnal. After reporting on its findings, this committee is recommending to Synod ‘99 that the URCNA begin the process of producing a new URCNA Psalter Hymnal. Recognizing that such a project will take several years and that many churches have hymnals that are falling apart, the committee is also recommending that synod approve a republication of the 1976 edition of the Christian Reformed Church Psalter Hymnal. These are the highlights of what will come before Synod ‘99 of the URCNA. May the Lord add His blessing to the deliberations and decisions made for the building up of His church and kingdom.

Derrick Vander Meulen, pastor, Bethel URC of Jenison, MI.