This will be brief because I refer only to Friday evening’s sitting; synod does not sit Saturday. But first, a correction from a Canadian reader. Keith Sikkema alerted me to the following:
“In Snippet 3 you refer to the GGRIC as the Calvin Reformed Christian Churches of Indonesia. The acronym actually stands for Gereja-Gereja Reformasi Indonesia Calvinis, i.e., Churches Reformed [of] Indonesia [that are] Calvinist. One can argue about the need to have both Reformed and Calvinist in their name, and whether they should have spelled Calvinis as Kalvinis in keeping with Indonesian conventions (“C” is pronounced as “Ch”)–but that is their decision. In Indonesian, unless a numerical indication is given, nouns are repeated to indicate plural: Gereja is Church, Gereja-Gereja is Churches.
May your delegates to Synod be blessed with wisdom and guidance to reach decisions that bring glory to God and edify the churches.”
I thank Br Sikkema for that clarification and his well-wishes for synod.
Br P Witten read out an address from the United Reformed Church of North America and then led in prayer for these churches. The FRCA do not have sister-church relations with these churches although they do have a sister relation with the CanRC.
A pastor of the First Evangelical Church of Singapore addressed synod and Rev R Bredenhof led in prayer for this sister church of the FRCA.
Synod finalised a decision to mandate deputies to continue contact with the Orthodox Presbyterian Churches (with whom the CanRC have a sister relationship) to further investigate the differences (presumably between the OPC and FRCA) in relation to church polity and practice . Although deputies and several churches had recommended not to pursue sister relations at this time it would appear that synod was persuaded otherwise. The full decision is available in the Acts.
DGK & GKN
Synod discussed the advisory committee’s recommendations in relation to the mandate for Deputies for Interchurch Relations—specifically in regard to the DGK (its members liberated themselves from the unfaithful RCN in 2003) and the GKN (many of whom left the RCN a few years later). Both have shown an interest in unity with the FRCA. The DGK have been sending observers to our synods for years.
Th e committees recommendations have been on synod’s table before but the proposed mandate was back for some final tweaking. Some points that came up in the round of discussion:
- The Liberated Reformed Church of Abbotsford (LRCA), with whom the DGK have a sister relationship, did not leave the Canadian Reformed Churches but some individuals did and these later formed the LRCA.
- Visits by our deputies to the DGK and GKN should be made “subject to finances available”.
- The GKN have members who did not come out of the RCN (GKv) so don’t say that the GKN’s existence is justified by them leaving the RCN (GKv).
- There is no need to include the requirement of a proposal from the churches before promoting sister relations because a couple of letters from the churches have already been tabled about this.
- Deputies have reported that the DGK have more recently questioned the LRCA in regard to their view about the catholicity of the church and their reasons for their members to leave the Canadian Reformed Churches.
- We will not need to invite a delegate from each of the churches to our next synod if the two federations unite beforehand.
The final decision can be seen in the Acts.
Synod’s decision was to continue the sister relations with the Free Reformed Churches of South Africa. Details are similar to previous synods.
Kosin Presbyterian Church of Korea (KPCK)
A couple of rounds of discussion ensued. Some of the points raised:
- The KPCK continue to have a sister relationship with the RCN, however they have indicated that they will break that relationship.
- They have lost some 19% of their membership, from 500,000 down to 412,000 members. There are various reasons for this:
- Lower birth rate
- Loss of church attendance and membership through Covid
- Is there any benefit in continuing the sister relationship? Yes, because they have indicated that they highly value the connection with reformed churches. Language has become far less of a barrier because new computer apps allow for speeches and correspondence to be immediately translated into quite good English. Consequently, despite Covid, our deputies had more effective correspondence with them lately than ever before.
- Whilst it’s true that they have a mission church here in Perth, this is because they are very Korean in their church and language. Rev ‘t Hart has contact with them.
- It was proposed that the deputies be mandated to encourage the KPCK to seek cooperation with, and help from, existing Free Reformed Churches prior to establish a congregation in close geographical proximity.
The full decision can be found in the Acts.
End of week 1 of FRCA Synod 2021
Although there’d been some hopes of concluding synod this week, this was not possible and synod was to reconvene on Monday, the Lord willing. Delegates were invited to experience a 4-wheel driving trip on Saturday and to join in at an evening BBQ.
Rev Anderson was asked to close the evening session. He expressed thanks for the brotherly spirit in which the work could be done and said it was evident throughout synod that all were brothers in the faith. He led in Bible reading and prayer and the attendees sang Psalm 101:1.
The chairman farewelled Br H Ballast (who had to return home and would be replaced by alternate Br W Visser) and adjourned synod.
(Unless I can get some contributions from another visitor at synod, this ends my “snippets” about synod as I’m back in Perth today.)