Last night saw the commencement of Synod Albany 2021 of the Free Reformed Churches of Australia. Outside God showed His power by providing wild weather with powerful squalls of rain, hail, lightning and thunder; inside He permitted peace and quiet as synod delegates and a number of visitors gathered for the opening of Synod Albany 2021. Rev Alkema, on behalf of the convening church, welcomed everyone present. There was singing, Bible reading and an opening address on Ephesians 1:15-23 emphasising the lordship of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In his opening address Rev Alkema reflected on how in this passage the Spirit and Word direct us to the Lord Jesus Christ. As we confess in LD 21 it is He who gathers, defends and preserves His church and our focus must be on Him alone. We must remain alert to His Word because it is so easy to stray from Him. For example, we can talk about our federation, our church, our synod, our decision. Yet the church is not ours; it is His church and therefore all our focus is to be on Him.
In Eph. 1:22 we read that God put all things under Christ’s feet. It’s evident from this that Christ Jesus is preeminent, rules supreme and has absolute power and authority. That’s a glorious confession which is to mean everything to us personally and to us collectively as God’s people. It’s a wonderful thing to know that Christ governs all things as Head of His body, the Church.
We are to be humble servants of our ascended Lord. Whilst we all share in His anointing and hence are to exercise our three-fold office of prophet, priest and king, the delegates at synod also have the special office as office bearers. We are watchmen on Zion’s walls, responsible to Christ and obligated to bow before Him and submit to His authority. Where there is an unwillingness to do so we must separate, as we did three years ago when we broke with the RCN (GKv). The supremacy of Christ may never be compromised.
Ephesians 1 also refers to the exceeding greatness of God’s power toward us as displayed in raising Christ from the dead and exalting Him to be seated at His right hand. Whilst we are weak and fragile, and the opposition to Christ and His Word is becoming increasingly clear, we may turn to our Lord and Saviour. His power will sustain and uphold us. Hence our hope and strength is in Him alone.
Rev Alkema went on to say that the last Albany Synod was in 1987. The effects of COVID means that, apart from the Rev Archbald of the RCNZ, no representatives from our sister churches elsewhere could be in attendance.
Appreciation was expressed for all those involved in preparing for Synod 2021 and, added Rev Alkema, our hope and prayer is that the Lord will bless it. “May we work diligently and faithfully and may the Lord bless it to His honour and in His service.”
With these words Rev Alkema declared Synod 2021 open.
Voting resulted in Rev Alkema being elected chairman, Rev R Bredenhof vice chairman, Br B Veenendaal first clerk, and Rev W Bredenhof second clerk. Thereby Rev Alkema declared Synod 2021 constituted and proceeded, this time in the role as chairman of this synod.
A hearty welcome was extended to Rev Archbald from the RCNZ. He rose to indicate (and expressed verbally) his wholehearted agreement with the Three Forms of Unity.
It was decided to have the Acts of Synod 2021 published on the internet as they officially became available. Evening sessions of Synod 2021 would be live-streamed to FRCA members and to overseas deputies.
Synod proceeded to deal with the following deputies’ reports:
- Overall Deputies’ Report for Interchurch Relations – outside Australia
- De Gereformeerde Kerken (DGK) and Gereformeerde Kerken Nederland (GKN). Both of these bonds of churches consist for the greater part of members having left the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (RCN/GKv) for much the same reasons (the RCN’s Scriptural and confessional unfaithfulness) as why the FRCA broke with them.
- The Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC)
It also dealt with a letter from Classis Central about three appeals declared inadmissible by Synod 2018.
A number of rounds of discussion was had in relation to these deputies’ reports and a round of discussion was commenced in relation to the letter from Classis Central about the appeals which Synod 2018 decided to declare inadmissible (see Synod 2018’s Articles 76, 77 and 78). The Deputies’ Reports, letters and the information gleaned from these rounds of discussions will be used by the committees appointed to discuss these matters and to propose a way forward to Synod 2021.