Two Overtures by Classis Pacific Northwest

The following overtures were adopted by Classis Pacific Northwest to forward to the URCNA Synod.

Overture re union with the Canadian Reformed Churches:

Zion United Reformed Church overtures Classis Pacific Northwest to overture Synod Wyoming 2016 to direct CERCU to discontinue all further action, advancement, processes, efforts or steps towards unification with the Canadian Reformed Churches and specifically advancement to Phase Three, Step A.

Background:

1. URCNA was formed as a separate denomination in 1996; only 18 years ago and we are thus a very young federation.
2. From very early in the existence of the URCNA there have been efforts to pursue both unity and union with the Canadian Reformed Churches.
3. The URCNA presently enjoys Phase II Ecclesiastical Fellowship with the Canadian Reformed Churches.
4. Efforts to move forward to full unity have been met with hesitancy and resistance by a significant majority of members and consistories in the URCNA (CERCU Report to Synod Visalia 2014, Provisional Agenda p. 77.)
5. Notwithstanding this resistance CERCU has continued to pursue full unification with the Canadian Reformed Churches culminating in a CERCU’s proposal to Synod Visalia 2014 that Synod Visalia encourage CERCU in its plans to recommend to Synod Wyoming 2016 that the URCNA proceed to Phase Three Step A of church unity with the Canadian Reformed Churches.
6. Synod Visalia 2014 voted to table indefinitely CERCU’s proposal.

Grounds:

1. This Overture is appropriate because this matter cannot be settled in any narrower assembly, Church Order, Article 25.
2. By CERCU’s own advice, two-thirds of the federation does not approve of unification with the Canadian Reformed Churches and is resistant to CERCU’s proceedings. Provisional Agenda, Page 77, Synod Visalia 2014
3. The URCNA’s current Phase II status of unity with the Canadian Reformed Churches is altogether satisfactory and effective and no compelling need to proceed to total union is presented.
4. No cogent affirmative case for pursuing union has been made by CERCU.
5. The process of pursuing union with the Canadian Reformed churches has been significantly distracting and has drawn important attention and resources from other critical matters such as missions, evangelism and the very unity that we now do share and appreciate with the Canadian Reformed Churches
6. Phase II Ecclesiastical Fellowship with the Canadian Reformed Churches presently satisfies biblical requirements for pursuing Christian unity.
7. The URCNA federation is still very young and continues to finish and perfect within its own broader assemblies the processes of complete and effective union in matters such as improvement of the current church order, liturgical forms and the songbook among other issues.
8. The current status of unity, i.e. Phase II that the URCNA has with federations such as the OPC and RPCNA is sufficient and satisfactory for all present needs and concerns and remaining in Phase II with Canadian Reformed Churches is workable, practicable and efficient and has heretofore had entirely satisfactory results.
9. Staying in Phase II for the foreseeable future will in no way prejudice later initiatives to advance unity with the Canadian Reformed Churches.

The overture is moved and supported. Adopted

Overture re the proposed joint church order being unusable.

Background:

The Proposed Joint Church Order, (hereafter referred to as the PJCO), was submitted to Synod London 2010 by the PJCO Committee for comment and evaluation. Article 41 of the Acts of Synod 2010 includes the following decision: “That Synod accept for continued study the PJCO 2010 as the Church Order for a united federation of the United Reformed Churches in North America and the Canadian Reformed Churches.”

At Synod 2012, refinements to the original documents were received and referred to the churches for evaluation. Special note was made at Synod 2012 that no comments had been received from the churches in the intervening time.

During the meeting of Classis Pacific Northwest at Lynden on October 16–17, 2012, a committee was appointed to evaluate the PJCO and propose such changes as are necessary so that the PJCO, so modified, could replace our current Church Order. At the meeting of Classis Pacific Northwest at Ripon on February 25, 2014 a report was received from this committee asking that the work be discontinued and declaring that the committee had fulfilled its mandate. In requesting dissolution, this committee found “ . . . that one of the principles of church government that is especially dear to the churches of our federation is that “the church is governed by elders, not by broader assemblies” (Foundational Principles, 5). Yet, in going through the PJCO we discovered, again and again, that our particular expressions of this principle are consistently being violated.” To substantiate this finding the committee noted the following instances:
•    Article 4A—the churches shall maintain a seminary
•    Article 4B—Licensure by classis
•    Article 4C—Candidacy by the classis with concurring advice from deputies
•    Article 5—advice of counselor appointed by classis
•    Article 6—classis shall ensure the good order of the calling process
•    Article 9—concurring advice of the deputies of regional synod
•    Article 12—classis may extend his eligibility for call
•    Article 5, 6, 14, 38, 52, 53—synodically approved liturgical form (rather than “appropriate liturgical form”)
•    Article 25E—delegation to Regional Synod & Synod
•    Article 27—Counselors
•    Article 28–29—Regional Synods
•    Article 36—songs need to be approved by General Synod
•    Article 37—admission to the pulpit

Overture:

The consistory of Immanuel’s Reformed Church of Salem Oregon overtures Classis Pacific Northwest to Overture the next Synod of the United Reformed Churches to declare that the Proposed Joint Church Order (a church order proposed for use in the prospective union of the United Reformed Churches with the Canadian Reformed Churches) is unusable for that purpose.

Grounds:

The church order we currently use or any future church order which we might adopt, cannot so thoroughly vacate a principle (principle #5) that we hold dear, a principle which we find thoroughly scriptural in its foundation. We note specifically:
1. The Foundational Principles of Reformed Church Government of the URCNA are derived from Holy Scripture.
2. The church order that is currently in use by the URCNA closely follows these Foundational Principles of Reformed Church Government.
3. Any future church order which we might adopt, either within the United Reformed Churches or in a proposed federation with other orthodox reformed churches must also closely follow these Foundational Principles of Reformed Church Government.
4. The Proposed Joint Church Order with the Canadian Reformed Church does not closely follow these Foundational Principles of Reformed Church Government.
For greater certainty, Principle #5 is quoted below:
5. The Lord gave no permanent universal, national or regional offices to His church. The office of elder (presbyter/episkopos) is clearly local in authority and function; thus, Reformed church government is presbyterial, since the church is governed by elders, not by broader assemblies.

Acts 14:23; 20:17,28; Titus 1:5.

The overture is moved and supported. Adopted

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