Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

United Reformed Ecumenical Relations Activities

Written by Rev. H.A. Bergsma
The third synod of the United Reformed Churches In North America (URC) convened on Tuesday, June 15, 1999 at the Cornerstone United Reformed Church in Hudsonville, Michigan. One hundred twenty six delegates from 69 churches (all but two) were present as well as fraternal observers and many visitors. After opening devotions, a roll call and giving assent to the Form of Subscription, the first major item of business was the ratification of classical decisions to admit new congregations into the federation. Ten congregations had been provisionally admitted by classes since the last synod. Synod ratified the admission of them all. Its joy in admitting ten new churches was tempered by the announcement that two other congregations, one in Agassiz, British Colombia and the other in Longmont, Colorado, had disbanded since the last synod. Beginning Wednesday morning and at various times, fraternal observers from other denominations brought greetings and words of encouragement. In other matters relating to ecumenicity, synod approved a mandate and guidelines for the Committee For Ecumenical Relations and Church Unity. Their mandate is to pursue and make recommendations to synod regarding the establishment of ecumenical relations with those federations selected by synod. The guidelines call for three phases of ecumenicity. The first phase, "Corresponding Relations," is an exploratory stage with the intent that by dialogue and correspondence mutual understanding and appreciation may develop. The second phase, "Ecclesiastical Fellowship," is centered on recognition and acceptance of each federation by the other as true and faithful churches of the Lord Jesus Christ. Such recognition and acceptance is viewed as a step toward eventual organic union. It includes table and pulpit fellowship as well as cooperation and assistance in the tasks and activities of the churches. The third phase of ecumenicity is "Church Union." The third phase is one of integration with the intent that the two federations, being united in true faith, and where contiguous geography permits, shall proceed to complete church unity. Synod approved entering into Corresponding Relations with the Canadian Reformed Churches and with the Free Reformed Churches and, in view of the newly defined terms, reaffirmed the last synod's decision to enter into Corresponding Relations with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The synod also set up an additional committee for establishing ecumenical relations with church federations outside the United States and Canada. (Gleaned from various reports)
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