The Committee for Ecumenical Contact with Churches Abroad (CECCA) has the privilege of representing the United Reformed Churches in North America outside of North America. The fact that the URCNA has a committee for this purpose is an indication that it considers ecumenical contact to be of utmost importance for the ongoing church-gathering work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Lord’s Day 21 of the Heidelberg Catechism, we confess that the communion of saints means, “First, that believers one and all, as members of this community, share in Christ and in all his treasures and gifts. Second, that each member should consider it a duty to use these gifts readily and cheerfully for the service and enrichment of the other members.” Because the URCNA has appointed a Committee for Ecumenical Contact with Churches Abroad, it believes that what we confess here about the communion of saints in local congregations also applies to the communion of saints between Reformed church federations throughout the world. We hope that this report will give you an opportunity to pray for our work in a focused manner.
The Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ)
At Synod Nyack 2012, CECCA received a request for advice from the fraternal delegate of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand. This request pertained to changes that were being proposed to their Form for the Baptism of Infants, which is the same as the URCNA’s. These changes were prompted by the belief of some that the Form for the Baptism of Infants has overtones of presumptive regeneration. On behalf of CECCA, two of its members sent documents in support of the Form for the Baptism of Infants in its present form.
The Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (GKv)
The developments in the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands continue to be a cause of concern for CECCA. In our evaluation of these concerns, CECCA plans to focus on primary sources as much as possible. Formal parallels with the Christian Reformed Churches in North America (CRCNA) are a reason for us to be careful that we do not judge the GKv prematurely as being the same as the CRCNA. To that end, CECCA has committed itself to carry on its own correspondence with the BBK (the CECCA of the GKv) and to evaluate the issues independent of that done by other federations that are expressing concerns about the direction of the GKv. We covet your prayers as we undertake that task for and on behalf of the URCNA.
The Calvinist Reformed Church in Indonesia (GGRC-NTT)
Since the Canadian Reformed Churches have had correspondence with the GGRC-NTT for quite some time and have not yet entered into full ecclesiastical fellowship with this federation, CECCA decided it would be wise to delegate one of its members to join their Canadian Reformed brothers on their next visit to Indonesia. This will enable us not only to pool our resources but also allow our relationship with the GGRC-NNT to mature in a responsible manner. Rev. Ray Sikkema will be joining Rev. Andrew Pol for a visit to Indonesia in the first two weeks of August of 2013.
The Free Church of Scotland Continuing (FCC)
Rev. Jason Tuinstra had the privilege of being the fraternal delegate of the URCNA at the General Assembly (GA) of the Free Church of Scotland Continuing in May of this year. The FCC is made up of six presbyteries, representing thirty-eight congregations. The FCC was formed in 2000 but sees itself as a continuation of the Free Church of Scotland. Given this, they trace their history back to the “Disruption of 1843,” when, under the leadership of Thomas Chalmers, 450 ministers left the Church of Scotland. Through the Church of Scotland, the FCC dates back to 1560 and the Reformation under John Knox. The GA ended as it began, with thanks and praise to God. While the URCNA and the FCC have different confessional backgrounds (the FCC holds to the Westminster Standards), it is clear that we share the singular, like precious faith. Our practices may differ at points ( the FCC holds to no instruments in worship and exclusive metrical psalm singing), but our similarities are clear. May the Lord greatly bless this new relationship, for His glory and the building up of His church.
The United Reformed Churches in Congo (URCC)
The relationship between the URCNA and the URCC is in the very earliest stages of development. Although we are in the Ecumenical Contact (phase one) relationship with the URCC, it has proved to be difficult to move beyond that point to date. Because of unforeseen difficulties, a planned first meeting with the URCC at its first synod (scheduled for July 23–28, 2012, in Kananga) had to be cancelled. A planned meeting in late summer of this year was also cancelled after it became clear that it would be very difficult to meet with the pastors and elders of the churches when no synod would be in session. Additionally, the URCC is looking forward to have the visiting delegates of the URCNA participate in the teaching ministry of its fledgling seminary. However, the seminary is in recess until October—well after the date a visit had been planned. It is our prayer that the Lord will bless our efforts to meet with this very needy federation of churches that longs so much for our support in the very difficult and trying circumstances wherein they find themselves every day.
Rev. Dick Moes is the pastor of the Covenant Reformed Church (URC) in Surrey, British Columbia. He is a member of the URCNA CECCA Committee.