The North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC)

The North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC) is an association presently made up of twelve confessionally Presbyterian and Reformed denominations and federations in the United States and Canada. In the next few issues of The Outlook, we want to provide an introduction to these twelve denominations. First, we want to give an introduction to NAPARC.

NAPARC lists biblical inerrancy as its basis, along with the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Belgic Confession, the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dordt.

The Council meets annually, and the 2013 meeting is scheduled for November 19–20, at the Bonclarken Conference Center in Flat Rock, North Carolina. The various denominations rotate in hosting the meetings, and this one is to be hosted by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARPC). Each member denomination sends delegates to these meetings.

The 2012 NAPARC meeting was hosted by the United Reformed Churches in North America, and was held at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana. This, thirty-eighth meeting of NAPARC, was held on November 13 and 14, and was chaired by URC pastor, Rev. John Bouwers.

History and Basis:

The first NAPARC meeting was held in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania in the fall of 1975. Its founding members included the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), the Christian Reformed Church of North America (CRCNA), the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA), the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA) and the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES); which in 1982 merged with the PCA.

In 1997, the membership of one of its founding members, the Christian Reformed Church in North
America, was suspended. This action was done largely on the basis of the CRC’s 1995 decision to open the offices of elder and minister of Word and sacrament to women.

The constitution of NAPARC states that the basis of the Council is Confessing Jesus Christ as only Savior and Sovereign Lord over all of life, we affirm the basis of the fellowship of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches to be full commitment to the Bible in its entirety as the Word of God written, without error in all its parts and to its teaching as set forth in the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dordt, the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms. That the adopted basis of fellowship be regarded as warrant for the establishment of a formal relationship of the nature of a council, that is, a fellowship that enables the constituent churches to advise, counsel, and cooperate in various matters with one another and hold out before each other the desirability and need for organic union of churches that are of like faith and practice.”

Purpose and Function:

•    Facilitate discussion and consultation between member bodies on those issues and problems which divide them as well as on those which they face in common, and by the sharing of insights “communicate advantages to one another.”

•    Promote the appointment of joint committees to study matters of common interest and concern.

•    Exercise mutual concern in the perpetuation, retention, and propagation of the Reformed faith.

•     Promote cooperation wherever possible and feasible on the local and denominational level in such areas as missions, relief efforts, Christian schools, and church education.

Current Member Churches:

1.    The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARPC)

2.    The Canadian Reformed Churches (CanRC)—Also known as the Canadian American Reformed Church (CanAmRC)—to include its four congregations in the US

3.    The Reformed Church of Quebec / L’Eglise Reformee du Quebec (ERQ)

4.    The Free Reformed Churches of North America (FRCNA)

5.    The Heritage Reformed Congregations (HRC)

6.    The Korean American Presbyterian Church (KAPC)

7.    The Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC)

8.    The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)

9. The Presbyterian Reformed Church (PRC)

10.    The Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS)

11.    The Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA)

12.    The United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA)
Golden Rule” Comity Agreement:
(Adopted at the 10th [1984] Meeting of the Council)

Comity has meant different things to different people. We representatives of the home missions agencies and committees or boards of our denominations resist territorial statements on comity in light of the social and cultural complexity of North American society and the great spiritual need of our many countrymen who are apart from Jesus Christ. Out of a concern to build the church of Jesus Christ rather than our own denominations and to avoid the appearance of competition, we affirm the following courteous code of behavior to guide our church planting ministries in North America:

1.    We will be sensitive to the presence of existing churches and missions ministries of other NAPARC churches and will refrain from enlisting members of these existing ministries.

2.    We will communicate with the equivalent or appropriate agency (denominational missions committee or board, presbytery missions or church extension committee, or session) before initiating church planting activities in a community where NAPARC churches or missions ministries exist.

3. We will provide information on at least an annual basis describing progress in our ministries and future plans.

4. We will encourage our regional home missions leadership to develop good working relationships

Transfer of Members/Congregations:

(Adopted at the 13th [1987] Meeting of the Council) Recognizing that the churches of NAPARC have on occasion unintentionally received members or ordained officers who were under various states of discipline in another NAPARC church, thus creating tension between the churches, and at the same time recognizing the need for mutual freedom and openness on the part of the churches, we agree to respect the procedures of discipline and pastoral concern of the other denominations as follows:

1.    Regular Transfer of Membership.That in the regular transfer of membership between NAPARC churches, the session/consistory or presbytery/classis not receive a member until appropriate document of transfer is in the hands of the receiving church.

2.    Transfer with Irregularities.

a.    That upon request for a transfer of membership by a person under discipline, the sending session/consistory or presbytery/classis inform the receiving body of the nature and extent of the disciplinary procedure before implementing the requested transfer, thus enabling informal consultation between the pastors and elders of both churches.

b.    That such a person not be received officially until the judicatory/assembly of the receiving church has taken into serious account the discipline of and the information supplied by the sending church.

c.    That such a person not be received officially until the judicatory/assembly of the receiving church is satisfied that proper restitution has been made and/or reconciliation has been seriously attempted.

d.    That a “fugitive from discipline” who is no longer a member of a church or who is no longer on the roll of a presbytery shall not be received until the former judiciary/assembly has been contacted to determine if proper restitution has been made and/or reconciliation has been attempted.

3.    Recourse and Appeal.
    Where communication or action regarding the sending/receiving of a member or ordained officer/office bearer does not satisfy either the dismissing or receiving judiciary/assembly, communication may be submitted to the interchurch relation committees of the denominations involved with a view to mediation of the problem. If this proves unsatisfactory, the session/consistory or presbytery/classis may register its concern to the appropriate judicatory/assembly of the other denomination.

4. Congregational Transfer.
    That a congregation seeking to leave a NAPARC church to become affiliated with another NAPARC denomination be received only after it has complied with the requirements of the form of government of the church from which it is separating, and the receiving church shall be responsible to see that this is done.
Complete information on NAPARC, including its constitution and bylaws and the minutes of all the meetings, can be found at www.naparc.org.

Mr. Myron Rau
is a member of Covenant URC in Kalamazoo, MI, where he has served as elder, and serves as President of the Board of Reformed Fellowship. He had served as chapter representative on the board of the former CCMCRCNA.

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