Our 1983 Synod—On the Agenda

By the time most of you read this, the Synod of our Protestant Reformed Churches will already have accomplished some of its work; and, in view of the slowness of our postal service, perhaps in some instances you will read this when most, if not all, of synod’s work will be finished. For this year our synod will convene on Wednesday, June 1, the very date when this issue of our Standard Bearer is scheduled to appear. However, due to the fact that our Agenda is not published until early May, it is not possible to furnish a preview of synod any earlier than this. And since we usually make a rather detailed report aftersynod has met, we will now furnish a very condensed preview. 

First on the program for our 1983 Synod will be the examination of two young men who have completed their seminary training, Messrs. Barry Gritters and Kenneth Hanko. Each must preach a sermon before synod, must submit written exegesis of Old Testament and New Testament passages, and must be examined orally in several branches of theology. This work will undoubtedly take up most of the first three days of synod’s meetings. Graduation of our two candidates-to-be will take place, D.V., on June 7 at our Hope, Walker Church. 

While on the subject of the examinations, I may add that other items related to our seminary will be before synod. These include: 1) The Report of the Theological School Committee. Much of this report is routine. Some items of special interest are: a) A proposal to strengthen the academic standards of our seminary. b) A proposal that in the future “All unrestricted and/or undesignated gifts and bequests received in excess of $500.00 will be deposited in a Gifts and Bequests Fund and will be used” for expenditures serving the long-term needs of the school and for the establishment of a faculty development fund. This proposal was occasioned by the receipt of two bequests to the seminary in recent years. c) A report of the admission of a new pre-seminary student, Mitchell Dick. d) A report that the Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore is sending to us for training Mr. Jaikishin Mahtani. 2) The report of the Student Aid Committee, the committee charged with administering financial aid for our seminary students. 3) An overture about student aid from our Southwest Church, which, however, comes without the adherence of Classis East. 

Undoubtedly a large part of synod’s time will have to be devoted to the Report of the Domestic Mission Committee. Looming large on the agenda in this respect are: 1) Matters pertaining to Jamaica, including a proposal of policy and a proposal to call a missionary to labor in Jamaica. 2) Matters pertaining to the labors in Birmingham, Alabama and Ripon, California. 3) Matters pertaining to the labors of Missionary S. Houck. 4) A matter involving a jurisdictional dispute concerning the rights and duties of the local churches in mission work. 5) Matters pertaining to the labors in New Zealand.

The Foreign Mission Committee Report includes a favorable report concerning Missionary den Hartog’s labors in Singapore and concerning our “baby sister” church there, the ERCS. Also included is a report concerning tape programs and book distribution in various other places. There are two proposals which require synodical action. One is a request for what amounts to standby permission for Doon to call a second missionary for Singapore should this prove necessary and acceptable to the Session of the ERCS. The other is a request for offerings for the Singaporean Seminarian Fund, i.e., to help with the support of Jaikishin Mahtani. 

The Contact Committee reports especially about its contacts with the Evangelical Presbyterian Churches of Australia, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. The latter church will have a visitor-delegate to our synod, and the Contact Committee expects to visit the RPCNA’s synod and confer with their representatives later this summer. 

For the rest, most of the committee reports are rather routine, though, I may caution, these routine reports involve matters which are crucial to the ongoing life and labors of our denomination. Routine does not mean unimportant and unnecessary! 

Three more items may be mentioned: 1) An appeal by a member of Lynden concerning the decision of Classis West regarding a case in Lynden concerning the rights and privileges of the office of believers in regard to the approbation of nominees for the office of elder or deacon. 2) An overture from Hull concerning membership of the Domestic Mission Committee, an overture which comes without the adherence of Classis West. 3) An overture from South Holland, with the adherence of Classis West, to include in ourPsalter, “the three early-church Trinitarian Creeds: The Apostles’ Creed, The Nicene Creed, The Athanasian Creed, with a brief historical introduction to each creed.” 

Besides, synod will have to make several decisions concerning subsidies for needy churches, concerning budgets for the various denominational activities, and concerning assessments for the new fiscal year. 

Without a doubt, it will be a busy week and a half for the delegates. 

May our gracious covenant God bless the delegates in their labors, and be pleased to use also the labors accomplished by our synod for the maintenance and furtherance of the cause of His church and of our churches in their place in His Zion. 

We will try to include a rather detailed report of synod’s decisions in our July 1 issue.