Synod Dunnville continues today over in Canada. We’ve seen the publication of a few sets of Provisional Acts. Unfortunately, it’s a little haphazard as to where these Acts are being published, whether at the Synod website or at the federation website. I have an idea of what’s happened so far, and I’m able to pass on a couple of the highlights:
- Up to this point, most of the plenary sessions have been dealing with ecumenical relationships. Most of this is standard fare. In most cases, the status quo in these relationships continues to hold. There are a couple of instances where foreign churches (e.g., Free Church Continuing, Kosin Presbyterian Church of Korea) have congregations in North America and the CanRCs are urged to develop closer relationships with these churches.
- Speeches from delegates from sister churches (and observing churches) have also been delivered, along with responses. Most of these have not been published anywhere yet. The major exception is the address of Rev. J.M. Batteau on behalf of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (RCN), and the response from Rev. Karlo Janssen. Curiously, these addresses don’t appear (yet) on either the Synod website or the federation website, but have been published (in English) on the Dutch website, Een in waarheid. You can find them here. These speeches are very interesting. Rev. Batteau insists that the course of action recommended by the Canadian committee is “premature.” Rev. Janssen’s reply reflects the ongoing concerns that the Canadian churches have had for a long time already and the lack of any action in a positive direction thus far. Most interesting of all in both of these speeches is the mention of the International Conference of Reformed Churches (ICRC). Both mention that the current direction of the RCN may lead to their expulsion from the ICRC. In fact, Janssen compares it to the expulsion of the Christian Reformed Church from the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council. This is the first time that anyone has publicly mentioned the status of the RCN within ICRC being threatened by their current path.
- As I have mentioned before, theistic evolution is on the agenda of this Synod. It comes by way of two appeals. One is from the church at Ancaster regarding the decision of a Regional Synod East to sustain the appeal of Dr. J. Van der Meer. The other is from the Providence CanRC of Hamilton regarding the decision of another Regional Synod East (RSE) about the proposal to change article 14 of the Belgic Confession to better address the challenges being faced on origins. Neither of those matters is confidential. The first-mentioned decision of Regional Synod East was made in closed session originally, but was made public by Dr. Van der Meer and his colleagues from the Reformed Academic website (see here). The decision on the BC 14 proposal was discussed in open session at the most recent RSE and the decision was publicized in the press release and in the Acts. So it is a little baffling to read in the provisional Acts of Synod Dunnville that these appeals are thus far being discussed in closed session. This has also been noted by the Dutch website Werken aan Eenheid. Along with them, while I can conceive of reasons why the discussions thus far have been in closed session, I hope that the final decisions on these matters are indeed public. These are public matters that have a bearing on the whole church federation, therefore the decisions should be promulgated publically. Also for the sake of sister churches, the Canadian Reformed Churches should not only do the right thing, but also be seen to be doing the right thing. Transparency is key when the issues are of such a huge magnitude.
For those interested in reading the Provisional Acts published so far, here are the links: