The following summary of events from the September 5 proceedings of the 27th Synod of the RCNZ is abbreviated and used with permission of reporter John Van Dyke.
Rev John Haverland lead in devotions from Ephesians 4:17–5:2 to open the first day of business proper.
In opening remarks, Rev Bruce Hoyt first of all expressed sadness, on behalf of all those gathered, at the closure of the Reformed Church of Mangere. Ministers farewelled included Revs Reiner Noppers, Sjirk Bajema and Jim Klazinga. Also Craig van Echten who, having served his vicariate, is departing to Western Australia. Conversely it is a pleasure to welcome into the RCNZ Revs Peter Moelker, Tim Rott, Andrew de Vries, Daniel Wilson and Nathan Ketchen (Palmerston North designate), and Mr Erik Stolte (vicar Pukekohe). Welcomes to synod were extended to fraternal delegates from likeminded churches…
Rev Robert van Wichen presented an overture from the Reformed Church of Bishopdale which called for synod to set aside extended time or times during the meeting to reflect on our current position as a denomination and then pray together. The moderamen have given consideration to additional opportunities for prayer during meal breaks. All those who spoke did not wish undervalue the need and importance for prayer. However there were comments that the overture was too vague for the delegates to meaningfully respond to and that considerable time for prayer was already provided in the usual synod agenda. Synod decided to take no action on the overture…
Rev Andre Holstlag presented the Education Resource Committee report. Work had begun on publishing a website of Bible study material reviews. The committee’s recommendations to investigate and evaluate suitable Bible study and catechism materials was not sustained. From discussion it appeared that sessions appeared to be doing this themselves. It was agreed that the committee dispose of the accumulated stock of The Lampstand which has fallen into disuse.
Rev Leo de Vos presented the report of the committee that studied the question, “Who may preach?” It was agreed to maintain the norm that only ministers, students and emeritus ministers be permitted to preach in our churches. It was further declared that this decision is not in conflict with a prior exception allowed to the preaching of ruling elders.
Before and after (and during) lunch, advisory committees were given two hours of regular meeting time to transact their business. There is an anticipation that their work will help expedite some of the weightier and more voluminous matters.
Rev John Haverland began presentation of the Forms and Confessions Committee report. As there had been some question whether the terms of their mandate had been exceeded, the work done by the committee with respect to the liturgical forms in broad terms was endorsed.
Rev Bruce Hoyt begun presentation of the Interchurch Relations Committee. Rev Michael Flinn gave a brief report of his attendance at the Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia. Rev Hoyt read a warm letter of greetings from Rev George Ball on behalf of the PCEA. Mention was made of the good work being done by Revs Sjirk Bajema and Jim Klazinga and also their concern at the situation in Christchurch after the earthquakes. It was agreed to send a delegate to one of the PCEA’s annual synods in the next three years.
With respect to the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (GKN-Lib) it was noted that there had been concerns raised about certain developments in doctrine and practice by other sister churches. It was agreed to continue to monitor these developments and communicate concerns.
It was agreed to discuss with the Christian Reformed Churches of the Netherlands the value of continuing our sister-church relationship, expressing our thanks to them for the ties which have existed since 1953.
In the evening session, synod heard from some of the fraternal delegates. Rev Bill Boekestein brought greetings from the United Reformed Churches of North America and was responded to by Rev Peter Kloosterman.
Rev Tim van Zylstra and Mr Ken Stevenson introduced the Presbyterian Reformed Church of Australia with whom the establishment of relations is on the agenda. They have eleven churches in Australia, three in Vanuatu and one in Fiji. A number of avenues for potential co-operation were suggested. Rev Michael Willemse spoke in reply.
Continuing with the Interchurch Relations Committee report, appreciation was expressed to the United Reformed Churches of North America for entering into full Ecumenical Relations with us. It was decided to send a delegate to their next synod.
Rev John Rogers introduced the overture (which was carried) of Auckland Presbytery which proposed charging the Interchurch Relations Committee with investigating entering into a fraternal relationship with the Presbyterian Reformed Church of Australia.
Rev John Haverland presented the report from the Ministers and Wives’ Conference. It was agreed that the Wellington Presbytery ministers should organise another conference before the next synod…
Rev John Haverland presented the Deputies for Students for the Ministry. Synod voted in favour supervising students and arranging vicariate placements. It was noted with thankfulness that a bequest had been received from a former Bucklands Beach member for the benefit, in equal parts, of the Student Assistance Fund and the Vicariate Fund.
As with all sessions of synod, the day ended with a closing devotion and the weary delegates made their way to their homes and billets seeking rest and refreshment for the next day.