Committee Constitutions

Constitution of the Committee for Contact with Other Churches

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Preamble

The Protestant Reformed Churches in America, in obedience to Scripture as interpreted in our three forms of unity, confess that there is one holy, catholic church. They believe, further, that it is their sacred duty to manifest the true unity and catholicity of the church on earth in as far as that is possible, not only in their denominational fellowship but also in conjunction with all churches which have obtained like precious faith with us, both domestic and foreign.

With a view to the achievement of this calling, the synod shall maintain a Committee for Contact with Other Churches; and for said committee the following constitution is hereby ordained and established.

  1. Name

    This committee shall be called “Committee for Contact with Other Churches.”

  2. Constituency and Tenure of Service

    This committee shall be composed of eight members: three elders, three ministers, and two professors. The committee shall be elected by synod for a term of three years and are eligible for re-election. Vacancies which occur between synods shall be filled by the next succeeding annual synod.

  3. Functionaries

    At its first meeting after the annual synod, the committee shall choose from its membership a president, a vice-president, a secretary, and a vice-secretary, who shall carry out the usual functions of such officers.

  4. Principles

    In negotiating and arriving at any official relationships with other churches, the following principles shall be determinative for the committee:

    1. In general, Holy Scripture, together with the subordinate standards of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America.
    2. Specifically, the Heidelberg Catechism, Question and Answer 54; the Belgic Confession of Faith, Articles 27-29; the Church Order of the Protestant Reformed Churches, Article 85.
  5. General Mandate

    In laboring toward the establishment of official relationships with other denominations, the committee shall observe the following guidelines:

    1. A full official relationship with other domestic churches (i.e., in the United States and Canada) would imply organic union. Less complete ties may be established as circumstances may require and indicate.
    2. A full sister-church relationship with foreign churches implies:
      1. Mutual acknowledgment of offices, so that ministers of sister churches are allowed preaching privileges in one another’s congregations and are eligible to be called by congregations in sister churches. However, if ministers from a sister church who have not met the requirements for candidacy in the Protestant Reformed Churches in America accept a call from a Protestant Reformed congregation, they shall submit to an examination by the classis in which the congregation resides, which examination shall also receive the approval of the synodical deputies from the neighboring classis.
      2. Mutual acknowledgment of membership attests.
      3. The delegation and reception of delegates to the broadest assemblies of such sister churches.
      4. Taking heed to one another’s life as churches; constantly acquainting one another with decisions of their broadest assemblies; mutual decisions as to revisions of and additions to the creeds, the Church Order, and liturgical forms.

        Such a full sister-church relation shall be established only with those foreign churches of whom we are assured not only that they accept the Reformed standards* as their basis, but that they indeed maintain them in their ecclesiastical life.

        (*“Reformed standards” has been interpreted by synod [Acts 1985, Art. 23] to include the Westminster Confession and Catechisms.)

    3. Corresponding Relationships with Other Churches.
      1. Where significant and broad agreement exists between the Protestant Reformed Churches and other churches, and yet differences are important enough to preclude a sister-church relationship, a corresponding relationship may be established.
        1. These relationships may be arranged as circumstances may dictate provided:
          1. That whatever relationship be arranged, the stipulations thereof shall be clear and unambiguous.
          2. That no merely formal ties shall be established, but only such relationships as will serve the actual welfare of the churches involved and the manifestations of our unity in the Reformed faith.
        2. These relationships shall be established only with those churches that not only accept the Reformed standards, or confessions consistent with the Reformed standards, but also maintain them in their ecclesiastical life.
      2. That activities of corresponding relationships shall consist of:
        1. Exchange of information which shall enable the churches to become better acquainted with each other. This exchange shall be implemented in the following ways:
          1. Exchange of observers at the broadest assemblies, if it is feasible.
          2. Exchange of minutes of the broadest assemblies.
          3. Exchange of denominational yearbooks and/or church directories.
          4. Exchange of the most recently published edition of the Church Order or Constitutions.
          5. Exchange of the most recently published edition of the confessional standards.
          6. Exchange of songbooks used in public worship, including the forms used for various occasions in public worship.
        2. Discussion by means of correspondence, committee visits, and conferences in order to confirm and strengthen our unity in Christ.
    4. No relationship shall be considered as established until it has been approved by the broadest assemblies of the churches concerned.
  6. Meetings

    The committee shall meet as often as its labors require. The time and place of meetings shall be decided by the committee; however, any member who desires a special meeting may ask the secretary to call such a meeting, and this request shall be honored.

    The committee shall be required to meet twice annually: once as soon as possible after the annual synod, for the purpose of reorganization; and once in sufficient time before the annual synod to prepare and adopt an annual report for inclusion in the synodical agenda.

  7. Task
    1. The committee shall carry out all mandates of synod with respect to the investigation and negotiation of contacts with other churches.
    2. The committee shall study the advisability of seeking official relationships with other churches, even without any specific synodical mandate; and when it deems this proper, it shall put forth every effort to contact such churches, in harmony with the principles and requirements set forth in this constitution.
    3. The committee shall diffuse our Protestant Reformed literature to churches or groups of believers with whom we have no official relationship either on a limited or a full basis, for which financial provision shall be made by synod.
    4. This committee shall serve synod when that body shall deem it necessary:
      1. to negotiate a conference of delegates of our own and other churches in the interests of seeking, establishing, and maintaining official ties with other churches.
      2. to implement projects of mutual interest, such as translations of literature, publication of literature, preaching tours, visiting professorships, etc. for the edification and instruction of sister churches and other churches should they request this.
    5. The committee shall present a complete report of all its activities to the annual synod, and it shall advise synod on all matters reported on or referred to it.
    6. The committee shall have the right to call to the attention of consistories any emergency financial needs toward which the benevolence of our congregations should be directed.
    7. The committee shall annually submit a proposed budget to the synod. No money not specifically budgeted shall be expended by the committee without consultation with and approval of the synodical Finance Committee.

(Cf. Acts of Synod, 1972, Art. 157, Suppl. XXXVII; Acts of Synod, 1980, Art. 57; Acts of Synod, 1987, Arts. 25, 40; Acts of Synod, 1998, Art. 38; Acts of Synod, 1999, Art. 26; Acts of Synod, 2000, Arts. 20, 30; Acts of Synod, 2001, Art. 37; Acts of Synod, 2009, Art. 15.)

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