Church Order Revision: Discussion

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To discuss the 2010 report on Church Order Revisions, post your comments here.

Excerpt from the introduction:

In its report to Synod 2007, the Board of Trustees (BOT) observed that

Over the past decade, a number of changes to the Church Order have been proposed and adopted by various synods. This year, additional significant changes are being proposed. The Board of Trustees proposes that synod initiate a process for a complete review and revision of the Church Order and Rules for Synodical Procedure.

(Agenda for Synod 2007, p. 28)

The BOT then made the following recommendation to Synod 2007:

That synod initiate a process for a complete revision of the Church Order and its Supplements both for the purpose of an orderly updating as well as a rewrite of synodical regulations that govern the life of the denomination and the churches in the present situation and that synod appoint a committee or task force to propose such a revision for consideration by the churches and synod (II, A, 18).

(Agenda for Synod 2007, p. 41)

Synod 2007 responded to the BOT recommendation by adopting the following decision:

That synod initiate a process for a revision of the Church Order and its Supplements for the purpose of an orderly updating to incorporate the synodical decisions and regulations that govern the life of the denomination and the churches and that synod instruct the BOT to appoint a task force to propose such a revision for consideration by the churches and synod (II, A, 18).

(Acts of Synod 2007, p. 597)

The committee noted that there is disparity between the language of the original BOT recommendation and synod’s decision. Whereas the BOT recommended a “complete revision” as well as a “rewrite of synodical regulations,” Synod 2007 chose to use the term “orderly updating” even while keeping the general language of Church Order “revision.”

Upon receiving the directive from synod, the BOT appointed an initial task force and requested that it present its report to the Board. Hence, the task force presents its report to the September 2009 meeting of the Board of Trustees.

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In the directive from synod to capture additional decisions and regulations in the CO, exactly the wrong direction is being held to. The first objective of any CO changes should be to reduce the size and length of the CO by 50%. It should be made smaller, not bigger. The process should be to put a garbage can beside the CO and ask, what can we do without? What can we eliminate. Do we really need more rules, more conditions, more categories, more, more, more??? Everytime an additional rule or category or condition is attached, there is another potential and cause for division, for separation, for exclusion, for reducing the freedom in Christ to serve him.

On the one hand we want ecumenicity; on the other hand we create more rules that make ecumenicity either impossible, or make it more and more necessary to ignore the CO.

Reduce, reduce, reduce. Then perhaps we will come to a better understanding of what the CO ought to be all about.

And, as a further note, the CO should not be organized around the demands of the Pension Fund. That is ordering things in completely the wrong order. Rather, the Pension Fund should be made to fit the requirements of the CO. If we have all these various staff positions in the CRCNA then the Pension Fund should be reorganized to include them all, including janitors, secretaries, etc.

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AMEN!! shorter....very well put; not only for this document but the whole back end of PsHymnal

In my opinion, the way to avoid problems is to have well drafted documents in place - in this case the Church Order. Well drafted does not necessarily mean lengthy but the more interpretations that can be made the more problems will arise.