Kerkorde FRCA (2003)

Church Order of Dordrecht as Revised by Synod 2003 of the Free Reformed Churches of Australia

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Kerkorde FRCA (2003) 1

Introduction

Article
1

Purpose and division

For the maintenance of good order in the church of Christ it is necessary to have:
I offices and supervision of doctrine;
II assemblies;
III worship, sacraments and ceremonies;
IV discipline.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
2

The offices

The offices are those of the minister of the Word, of the elder, and of the deacon.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
3

The calling to office

A. All office-bearers
No one shall take any office upon himself without having been lawfully called thereto.
The calling to office shall take place by the consistory with the deacons, with the cooperation of the congregation, after prayer, and in accordance with the local regulations adopted for that purpose.
Prior to the ordinaton or installation the names of the appointed brothers shall be publicly announced to the congregation for the approval on at least two consecutive Sundays. If no lawful objection is brought forward the ordination or installation shall take place with the use of the adopted Form.

B. Elders and deacons
The consistory with the deacons shall give the congregation the opportunity to draw the attention of the consistory to brothers deemed suitable for the respective offices.
The consistory with the deacons shall present to the congregation at the most twice as many candidates as there are vacancies to be filled. From this number the congregation shall choose as many office-bearers as are needed.
Those elected shall be appointed by the consistory with the deacons.
If necessary the consistory and the deacons may present to the congregation the same number of candidates as there are vacancies.

C. Ministers
Before a vacant church extends a call the advice of the counsellor shall be sought.
The approval of classis shall be required for a repeated call to the same minister for the same vacancy.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
4

Bound to a church

No one shall serve in the ministry unless he is bound to a certain church.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
5

Eligibility for the ministry

A. Eligibility
Only those shall be called to the office of minister of the Word who:
(1) have been declared eligible for call by the churches; or
(2) are already serving in the capacity in one of the churches; or
(3) have been declared eligible or are serving in one of the churches with which the Free Reformed Churches of Australia maintain a sister relationship. The churches shall observe the general ecclesiastical ordinances for the eligibility of those ministers who have served in these sister-churches.

B. Declared eligible
Only those shall be declared eligible for call within the churches who
(1) have passed a preparatory examination by the classis in which they live, which examination shall not take place unless those presenting themselves for it submit the necessary documents to prove that they are members in good standing of one of the churches and have successfully completed a course of study as required by the churches; or
(2) have satisfied the requirements of Article 8; or
(3) have satisfied the requirements of Article 9.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
6

Ordination and installation of ministers of the Word

A. Regarding those who have not served in the ministry before, the following shall be observed:
1. They shall be ordained only after classis has approved the call. Classis shall approve the call a. upon satisfactory testimony concerning the soundness of doctrine and conduct of the candidate, attested by the consistory of the church to which he belongs; and b. following a peremptory examination of the candidate with satisfactory results. This classis examination shall take place with the cooperation and concurring advice of deputies of synod.
2. For the ordination they shall also show to the consistory good testimonials concerning their doctrine and conduct from the church(es) to which they have belonged since their preparatory examination.

B. Regarding those who are serving in the ministry the following shall be observed:
They shall be installed after classis has approved the call.
1. For this approval as well as for the installation the minister shall show good testimonials concerning his doctrine and conduct, together with a declaration from the consistory with the deacons and from classis that he has been honourably discharged from his service in that church and classis, or from the church only in cases he remains within the same classis.
2. For the approval of a call of those who are serving in one of the churches with which the Free Reformed Churches of Australia maintain a sister relationship a colloquium shall be required which will deal especially with the doctrine and polity of The Free Reformed Churches of Australia.

C. The approval of a call shall require written certification by the calling church that the required announcements were made and that the congregation has approved the call.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
7

From one church to another

A minister once lawfully called shall not leave the church to which he is bound to take up the ministry elsewhere without the consent of his consistory with the deacons and the approval of classis.
Likewise, no church shall receive him unless he has presented a proper certificate of release from the church and the classis where he served, or from the church only if he remains within the same classis.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
8

Exceptional gifts

Persons who have not pursued the regular course of theological study shall not be admitted to the ministry unless there is convincing evidence of their exceptional gifts of godliness, humility, modesty, good intellect, and discretion, as well as the gift of public speech. When any such person presents himself for the ministry, classis shall (with synod’s prior approval) examine him, and upon a favourable outcome allow him, as candidate, to speak an edifying word in the churches of the classis for a set period of time. Thereafter the classis shall further deal with him as it shall deem edifying, observing the ecclesiastical regulations adopted for this purpose.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
9

Admission of ministers who have recently joined the church

A minister of the Word who has recently joined one of the churches and originates from a church with which the churches do not maintain a sister relationship shall only be admitted to the ministry with great caution. He shall not be declared eligible for call within the churches unless he has been well tested for a reasonable period of time and carefully examined by the classis in whose area he lives. This classis examination shall be conducted with the cooperation of the deputies of synod.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
10

Officiating in another church

No one shall preach the Word or administer the sacraments in another church without the permission of the consistory of that church.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
11

Proper support

The consistory, with the deacons, on behalf of the congregation that it represents in this matter, shall provide for the proper support of its minister(s).

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
12

Call to an extraordinary task

If a minister accepts a call or an appointment to an extraordinary task the nature of the relationship between him and the church to which he is bound must be arranged with the consent of the classis. Some ministers may be appointed to the training of students for the ministry; others may be called for mission work.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
13

Retirement of ministers

If a minister of the Word, by reason of age, sickness or otherwise, is rendered incapable of performing the duties of his office he shall retain the honour and title of minister of the Word. He shall also retain his official bond with the church which he served last, and this church shall provide honourably for his support. The same obligation exists towards a minister’s widow and orphans.

See Appendix I Form 6

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
14

Dismissal

The consistory with the deacons shall not dismiss a minister from his bond with the congregation without the approval and the concurring advice of the deputies of synod.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
15

Bound for life

A minister of the Word, once lawfully called, is bound to the service of the church for life and therefore not allowed to enter upon another vocation unless it is for exceptional and substantial reasons. The decision of his consistory to relieve him of his office in order to enter upon another vocation shall receive the approval of classis, with the concurring advice of deputies of synod.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
16

Task of ministers

The task of ministers is to faithfully lead in prayer, preach the Word and administer the sacraments. They shall watch over their fellow office-bearers and over the congregation. Together with the elders they shall exercise church discipline and see to it that everything is done decently and in good order.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
17

Training for the ministry

The churches shall support or, if possible, maintain an institution for the training for the ministry. The task of the professors of theology is to expound the Holy Scriptures and to defend the sound doctrine against heresies and errors, so that the churches may be provieded with ministers of the Word who are able to fulfil the duties of their office as they have been described above. The churches together are obliged to provide for the professors of theology and for their widows and orphans.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
18

Students of theology

The churches shall strive to ensure that there are students of theology extending financial aid where necessary.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
19

Task of Missionaries

When ministers of the Word are sent out as missionaries, they shall in the specific region assigned to them proclaim the Word of God, administer the sacraments to those who have come to the profession of their faith, teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded His church, and ordain elders and deacons when this appears feasible, according to the rules given in the Word of God.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
20

Task of elders

The elders shall together with the ministers of the Word govern the congregation with pastoral care and discipline. For the upbuilding of the congregation they shall make home-visits as often as is profitable but at least once a year. They shall watch that their fellow office-bearers are faithful in carrying out their duties and ensure that in the congregation everything is done decently and in good order.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
21

Task of deacons

The deacons shall perform the ministry of mercy. They shall acquaint themselves with difficulties; visit, help and encourage where there is need, and urge church members to render assistance where necessary. They shall collect and manage the gifts of the congregation, and, after mutual consultation, distribute them where there is need. The deacons shall give account of their policies and management to the consistory.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
22

Equality of respective duties

In the local congregation equality shall be maintained among the ministers, among the elders, and among the deacons, regarding their respective duties, and in other matters, as much as possible.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
23

Term of office

The elders and deacons shall serve two or more years according to local regulations, and a proportionate number shall retire each year. The places of the retiring office-bearers shall be taken by others unless the consistory with the deacons judges that the circumstances and the well-being of the church render it advisable to call them into office again. In that case the rule of Article 3 shall be observed.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
24

Subscription to the Confession by ministers and teaching staff

A minister of the Word and all teaching staff at the theological seminary shall subscribe to the Three Forms of Unity of the Free Reformed Churches of Australia by signing the Form(s) adopted for that purpose. Anyone refusing to subscribe in that manner shall not be ordained or installed in office. Anyone who, being in office, refuses to do so shall because of that very fact be immediately suspended from office by the consistory, and classis shall not receive him. If he obstinately persists in his refusal he shall be deposed from office.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
25

Subscription to the Confession by elders and deacons

Elders and deacons shall also subscribe to these Three Forms of Unity by signing the Form adopted for that purpose. Anyone being in office who refuses to do so shall because of that very fact be immediately suspended from office by the consistory. If he obstinately persists in his refusal he shall be deposed from office.

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Offices and supervision of doctrine

Article
26

False doctrine

To ward off false doctrines and errors the ministers and elders shall use the means of instruction, of refutation, of warning and of admonition, in the ministry of the Word as well as in Christian teaching and family visiting.

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Offices and Supervision of Doctrine

Article
27

Office-bearers and the government

The office-bearers shall impress upon the congregation its obligation to be obedient and show respect to the government, because God has instituted it. They must set a good example in this regard and by means of proper communication invoke the government to protect the ministry of the church.

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Assemblies

Article
28

The ecclesiastical assemblies

Three kinds of ecclesiastical assemblies shall be maintained: the consistory, the classis, and the synod.

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Assemblies

Article
29

Proceedings

The proceedings of all assemblies shall begin and end with prayer.

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Assemblies

Article
30

Authority of the assemblies

These assemblies shall only deal with ecclesiastical matters and in an ecclesiastical manner. A major assembly shall deal only with matters which could not be finished in the minor assembly or which belong to its churches in common. A new matter may be put on its agenda only when the minor assembly has dealt with it.

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Assemblies

Article
31

Appeals

If anyone complains that he has been wronged by the decision of a minor assembly he shall have the right of appela to the major assembly; and whatever may be agreed upon by a majority vote shall be considered settled and binding, unless it is proved to be in conflict with the Word of God or with the Church Order.

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Assemblies

Article
32

Credentials and voting

Delegates to a major assembly shall bring with them their credentials, signed by the minor assembly. They shall have a vote in all matters except those in which either they themselves or their churches are directly involved.

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Assemblies

Article
33

Proposals

Matters once decided upon may not be proposed again unless they are substantiated by new grounds.

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Assemblies

Article
34

Chairman and clerk

In all assemblies there shall be a chairman and a clerk. The chairman’s task is to present and explain clearly the matters to be dealt with and ensure that every one observes due order in speaking; he shall deny the floor to those who argue about minor things or who let themselves be carried away and cannot control their emotions, and discipline those who refuse to listen. His task shall cease when the assembly ends. The clerk shall keep an accurate record of all things worthy of being recorded.

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Assemblies

Article
35

Jurisdiction

The classis has the same jurisdiction over the consistory as the synod has over the classis.

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Assemblies

Article
36

Consistory

In all churches there shall be a consistory composed of the minister(s) of the Word and the elders. It shall meet regularly and be chaired by the minister. If a church is served by more than one minister they shall chair in turn. The consistory shall also meet regularly with the deacons to deal with those matters as described for that purposed by the Church Order, and further with all things which the consistory considers necessary for general management, including the material affairs of the church.

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Assemblies

Article
37

Consistory and the deacons

Where the number of elders and deacons is small the deacons may be added to the consistory by local arrangement. This shall invariably be done where there are less than three elders and less than three deacons. In these circumstances matters pertaining to supervision and discipline shall be handled with the advice of the deacons and matters pertaining to the office of deacons with the advice of the elders.

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Assemblies

Article
38

Constitution of a consistory

If a consistory is to be instituted for the first time or anew, the advice of classis shall be sought.

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Assemblies

Article
39

Places without a consistory

Places where as yet no consistory can be instituted shall be assigned by classis to the care of a neighbouring consistory.

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Assemblies

Article
40

Meeting of deacons

The deacons shall meet regularly to deal with the matters pertaining to their office. Their meetings shall begin and end with prayer.

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Assemblies

Article
41

Classis

Neighbouring churches shall come together in a classis by delegating a minister and an elder, or if a church has no minister, two elders. Classis shall convene at least once every six months in person. The ministers shall be chairman in rotation, or one shall be chosen to be chairman; however the same minister shall not be chairman twice in succession. The chairman shall ask whether the ministry of the office-bearers is being continued, whether the decisions of the major assemblies are being honoured and whether there is any matter in which the consistories need the judgment and help of classis for the proper government of their church. Every classis shall determine where and when the churches shall meet again. The last classis before synode shall choose delegates to that synod.

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Assemblies

Article
42

Ministers who are not delegated to a classis

If two or more ministers are serving the same church, those who have not been delegated shall have the right to attend classis in an advisory capacity.

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Assemblies

Article
43

Counsellors

Each vacant church shall request classis to appoint as counsellor the minister it desires as such, to the end that he may assist the consistory in maintaining good order and especially may lend his aid in the matter of the calling of a minister; he shall sign the letter of call.

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Assemblies

Article
44

Church visitors

Each year classis shall authorise at least two of the more experienced and able ministers to visit the churches in that year. If necessary the classis may authorise a capable elder to carry out this task together with a minister. It shall be the task of these visitors to inquire whether all things are regulated and done in full harmony with the Word of God, whether the office-bearers fulfil the duties of their office faithfully as they have promised, and whether the Church Order is being observed and maintained in every respect, in order that they may in good time fraternally admonish those who are found negligent in any thing, and that by their good counsel and advise all things may be directed towards the edification and preservation of Christ’s church. They shall submit written reports of their visits to classis.

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Assemblies

Article
45

Synod

The synod shall be held every three years. As long as there are two classes each classis shall delegate four ministers and four elders. In the event that there are three classes, each classis shall delegate three ministers and three elders. At the close of synod the time and place for the next synod shall be determined and a church shall be appointed to convene it. A synod shall be convened before the appointed time at the request of a classis. Its time and place shall be decided by the church appointed as convening church for the next regular synod.


Text as revised by Synod Legana 2009. Text as it was prior to revision:
The synod shall be held every three years. As long as there are two classes each classis shall delegate four ministers and four elders. At the close of synod the time and place for the next synod shall be determined and a church shall be appointed to convene it. A synod shall be convened before the appointed time if according to the judgment of at least two classes this appears necessary. Its time and place shall be decided by the church appointed as convening church for the next regular synod, subject to the approval of its classis.

Kerkorde FRCA (2003) 46

Assemblies

Article
46

Relationship with other churches

The relationship with other church shall be regulated by synod. With churches of Reformed confession sister relations shall be maintained as much as possible. On non-essential points of ecclesiastical practice other churches shall not be rejected.

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Assemblies

Article
47

Censure in classis and synod

At the close of the major assemblies censure shall be exercised over those who in the meeting have done something worthy of reproof.

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Assemblies

Article
48

Deputies of major assemblies

Each synod shall appoint deputies who are to assist the classes in all matters provied for in the Church Order. A classis may request these deputies to assist in cases of special difficulties. Each synod shall also appoint deputies to carry out its own decisions. Different deputies shall be appointed as much as possible for separate matters. All deputies shall keep proper record of their work and submit a written report.

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Assemblies

Article
49

Archives

The assemblies shall ensure that proper care is taken of the archives.

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Assemblies

Article
50

Mission

The churches shall endeavour to fulfil their missionary task. In doing so they shall observe the provisions of this Church Order. When churches cooperate in mission work they shall as much as possible observe the division into classes.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
51

Administration of sacraments

The sacraments shall be administered only in a church service by a minister of the Word with the use of the adopted Forms, and under the supervision of the elders.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
52

Baptism of infants

The consistory shall ensure that the covenant of God is sealed by baptism to the children of believers as soon as feasible.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
53

Baptismal promise and education

The consistory shall make sure that the parents honour their vows to instruct their children, to the utmost of their power, in the doctrine of the Scriptures as summarised in the confession, and to have them instructed in the same by the instruction provided by the consistory.
In accordance with the same vow, the consistory shall see to it that the parents, to the best of their ability, giver their children education (as stipulated by the civil government) which is based on Scripture and Confession.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
54

Public profession of faith

Those who desire to publicly profess their faith shall be examined by the consistory on their motivation and knowledge of the doctrine of God’s Word. The public profession shall take place in a church service, with the use of the adopted Form.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
55

Baptism of adults

Adults who have not been baptised shall be grafted into the Christian church by holy baptism upon their public profession of faith.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
56

Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper shall be celebrated at least once every three months.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
57

Admission to the Lord’s Supper

The consistory shall admit to the Lord’s Supper only those who have made public profession of the Reformed faith and lead a godly life. Members of sister churches shall be admitted on the basis of a good attestation concerning their doctrine and conduct.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
58

Church records

The consistory shall maintain church records in which the names of the members and the dates of their birth, baptism, public profession of faith, marriage, and departure or death are properly recorded.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
59

Attestations for communicant members

Communicant members who move to another congregation shall be given, following appropriate announcements to the congregation, an attestation regarding their doctrien and conduct, signed on behalf of the consistory by two authorised office-bearers. This attestation shall also record their children who have not yet made public profession of faith. The consistory of the congregation concerned shall be notified in due time.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
60

Attestations for non-communicant members

An attestation for a non-communicant member shall be sent directly to the consistory of the church concerned with the request to take the member under its supervision and discipline.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
61

Support after departure

When members depart to another congregation where they will be cared for in institutions, aged persons homes or nursing homes, they shall in respect of deacon support remain under the care of the church they are leaving. If this is not possible support will be arranged by consultation between the consistories and deacons concerned.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
62

Church services

The consistory shall call the congregation together for church services twice on the Lord’s Day.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
63

Catechism preaching

The consistory shall ensure that as a rule every Sunday the doctrine of God’s Word as summarized in the Heidelberg Catechism is proclaimed, preferably in the afternoon service.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
64

Psalms and hymns

In the church services only the psalms and hymns approved by synode shall be sung.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
65

Ecclesiastical feast days

On Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Ascension Day, and at Pentecost the consistory shall call the congregation together for church services. The sacred events which the congregation commemorates in particular on these days shall therein be proclaimed.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
66

Days of prayer

In times of war, general calamities and other great afflictions the presence of which is felt throughout the churches a day of prayer may be proclaimed by the church appointed for that purpose by synod.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
67

Marriage

The consistory shall ensure that the members of the congregation marry only in the Lord, and that the ministers — as authorised by the consistory — solemnise only such marriages as are in accordance with the Word of God. The solemnisation of a marriage shall take plac in a private ceremony, with the use of the adopted Form.

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Worship, sacraments and ceremonies

Article
68

Funerals

Church services shall not be conducted for funerals.

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Church discipline

Article
69

Aim of discipline

Church discipline shall be exercised in accordance with the Word of God and to His honour. Its aim is to reconcile the sinner with God and the neighbour, and to remove the offence from the church of Christ.

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Church discipline

Article
70

Mutual responsibility

If anyone departs from the pure doctrine or is delinquent in conduct and this is a secret matter which does not give rise to public offence, the rule which Christ clearly prescribes in Matthew 18 shall be observed.

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Church discipline

Article
71

Consistory involvement

The consistory shall not deal with any report of sin unless it has first ascertained that both private admonitions and admonitions in the presence of one or two witnesses have remained fruitless, or the sin committed is of a publice character.

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Church discipline

Article
72

Repentance

When someone repents of a public sin or of a sin which had to be reported to the consistory, the latter shall not accept his confession of sin unless the member concerned shows real amendment. The consistory shall determine whether the congregation shall be informed afterwards.

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Church discipline

Article
73

Discipline in respect of communicant members

A communicant member who obstinately rejects the admonition by the consistory or who has commited a public or some other serious sin shall be suspended from the Lord’s Supper. If he continues to harden himself in sin, the consistory shall publicly announce this to the congregation so that the congregation may be engaged in prayer and admonition and the excommunication may not take place without its cooperation.

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Church discipline

Article
74

Announcements during the procedure

In the first public announcement the name of the sinner shall not be mentioned. In the second public announcement, which shall be made only after the advice of classis has been obtained, the name and address of the sinner shall be mentioned. In the third public announcement a date shall be set at which the excommunication of the sinner shall take place in accordance with the adopted Form. The time interval between the various announcements shall be determinded by the consistory.

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Church discipline

Article
75

Re-admission

When someone who has been excommunicated repents and desires to be again received into the communion of the church, the congregation shall be informed of this desire in order to see whether there are any lawful objections. The time between the public announcement and the re-admission of the sinner shall be no less than one month. If no lawful objection is raised the re-admission shall take place, with the use of the adopted Form.

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Church discipline

Article
76

Suspension and deposition of office-bearers

If a minister, elder or deacon has committed a public or otherwise gross sin, or refuses to heed the admonitions by the consistory, he shall be suspended from office by the judgment of his own consistory and of the consistory of a neighbouring congregation. In the case of a minister this neighbouring congregation shall be appointed by the classis. If he hardens himself in the sin, or if the sin committed is of such a nature that he can not continue in office, an elder or a deacon shall be deposed by the judgment of the above-mentioned consistories. Classis, with the advice of the deputies of synod, shall judge whether a minister is to be deposed.

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Church discipline

Article
77

Serious and gross sins on the part of office-bearers

As serious and gross sins which are grounds for the suspension or deposition of office-bearers the following are to be mentioned particularly: False doctrine or heresy, public schisms, blasphemy, simony, faithless desertion of office or intrusion upon that of another, perjury, adultery, fornication, theft, acts of violence, habitual drunkenness, brawling, unjustly enriching oneself; and further all such sins and serious misdemeanours that rate as ground for excommunication with respect to other members of the church.

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Church discipline

Article
78

Christian censure

The ministers, elders, and deacons shall mutually exercise christian censure and shall exhort and kindly admonish one another with regard to the execution of their office.

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Church discipline

Article
79

Discipline in respect of non-communicant members

A baptised member shall be admonished by the consistory when he as an adult fails to make public profession of faith or where in other respects he is not loyal to the calling to new obedience in God’s covenant. If he obstinately rejects the admonition of the consistory and thereby clearly demonstrates that he is indifferent and averse to the covenant or even hostile to the service of the Lord, the matter shall be made known to the congregation without mentioning the name of the sinner; and the congregation shall be urged to pray for him. If the member continues in sin and is unwilling to listen to the admonitions, then with the advice of the classis the consistory shall make a second public announcement, mentioning the name of the sinner and the term after which the excommunication shall take place. If he does not in the said term show any real repentance, the consistory shall in a church service exclude him from the communion of the church, using the adopted Form. If he, after this excommunication, comes to repentance and desires to rejoin the communion of the church, he shall be admitted by way of his public profession of faith after the consistory has made his repentance known to the congregation.

Kerkorde FRCA (2003) 80

Concluding articles

Article
80

No lording over others

No church shall in any way lord it over other churches, no office-bearer over other office-bearers.

Kerkorde FRCA (2003) 81

Concluding articles

Article
81

Observance and revision of the Church Order

These articles, which regard the lawful order of the church, have been adopted with common accord. If the interest of the churches demands such, they may and ought to be changed, augmented or diminished. However no consistory or classis shall be permitted to do so, but they shall endeavour diligently to observe the provisions of thie Church Order as long as they have not been changed by synod.