The Synod meetings began Wednesday morning at 9.30 a.m. (on Thursday and Friday they began at 9.00 a.m.). Following the opening, elections took place with the following results: Chairman, Rev. G.R. Procee; Vice-Chairman, Rev. L.W. Bilkes; First Clerk, Rev. P. VanderMeyden; Second Clerk, Rev. H. Overduin.
The following are some of the highlights:
1. Synod faxed a letter, signed by all the delegates to Premier Bob Rae of Ontario, urging that he and all members of the legislature vote against the passage of Bill 167 dealing with same sex benefits. On Thursday, when we received the news that the bill was defeated, a prayer of thanksgiving was offered to God, and petition was made that the Lord would further have mercy on our land and its leaders.
2. In 1979 Synod, through its Publications Committee, published what was called a "Pastoral Letter on Worldliness." At the request of the Hamilton Free Reformed Church it was agreed that this letter be studied, revised, updated and republished this year. A scriptural and balanced warning against worldliness is always needed, also today.
3. The Chatham consistory had sent an overture asking for guidance in the promotion of church unity with other churches which hold to the Scriptures and the Confessions. After much wholesome discussion and deliberation the following was unanimously decided: "To mandate the External Relations Committee to provide the consistories with a position paper, drawn from Scripture and the Confessions, supplying them with guidance in giving form to the prayer of the Lord Jesus that all those who have received like precious faith with us be one." The External Relations Committee is to report back on this matter to Synod 1995.
4. Synod decided to change the percentage required by the Theological Education Committee for accepting students for the ministry. The Theological Education Committee consists of ten members and is responsible for interviewing applicants who feel called to the ministry. Formerly a 75% majority vote of approval of any applicant was required. This was changed to 70%. The request from Chilliwack that all applicants be accepted with just a simple majority (half plus one) was defeated. The above decision involved a lot of discussion and several times it was expressed what a weighty task the Theological Education Committee has, and the need for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in interviewing and decisions regarding applicants for the ministry. There should be prayer for the committee members and prayer to the Lord of the harvest to send forth more labourers in His vineyard while it is still the day of grace.
5. There were many and various committee reports. They will be available in the Acts of Synod to be published August/September D.V.
a. The Mission Committee Report related that more than $200,000.00 was collected this past year in support of foreign missions, a reason for special mention and thankfulness.
b. The World Relief Committee's task may change somewhat because the well-known and respected relief organization, Word and Deed of the Netherlands, has been established in Canada as a recognized charitable organization as "Word and Deed Ministries, Canada." The World Relief Committee will report to next year's Synod concerning their particular focus and function in our churches. Presently, the main work of the Committee is the support of the Cubulco Hospital in Guatemala. This work is very important and has been blessed by the Lord. Regular reports in the Messenger give details.
c. The Evangelism Committee which deals mainly with the denominational radio broadcast, "Banner of Truth," has been challenged to broaden its vision and its function within the denomination. Two new members were appointed to this committee, Rev. K. Gangar and Rev. L. Roth. Rev. Pronk, the radio pastor, was appointed as ex officio member.
d. The Home Mission work in Bellevue, a suburb of Seattle, Washington, is growing. Getting a permanent place of worship has been very helpful in the development of the work. May God give further blessings upon this often difficult work.
Synod meetings were held for three full days (including evenings), and while there was not always agreement on everything and although there are different emphases among the congregations, yet there was an over-all brotherly spirit and a common bond in submission to the Scriptures. The chairman was given strength and grace in his leadership role and the first clerk with his proficient computer skills was able to keep an accurate record of the proceedings. May God bless the decisions which were made to the glory of His name and for the well-being of His Church and our involvement in it.
On the second day the grade 11 and 12 students from Heritage Christian School sat in on part of the morning session. They said it was very interesting. When they left the vice-chairman gave them a question to think about, "how does the Holy Spirit guide the church in the procedures of Synod?" What would our response be to this question?
Synod 1995 is scheduled for June 7,8,9, with Hamilton being both the calling and host church.