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 this Church Order as long as they have not been changed by synod.
This final article deals with the Church Order itself.
It starts with a sort of solemn statement which says: This order has been adopted with common accord.
There is room for amending, augmenting or diminishing all these articles, but this is a matter of the churches in general that have agreed to them being accepted.
This is why our Church Order also concludes with its last rule – adopted by all the churches – that they shall diligently observe its provisions as long as they are not changed. At the same time it may become clear why in Article 31 the possibility of a major assembly’s decision being in conflict with the Church Order is mentioned as an exception to the rule: decisions of major assemblies are binding.
The statement made in the first lines of this article proves that it was an important moment in the history of the Reformed churches when at the well-known Synod of Dordrecht 1618/19 “The Church Order of Dordrecht” was adopted.
The same can be said about the day when our churches decided to establish a federation of churches and to adopt “The Church Order of Dordrecht” (Acts of Synod Armadale 1954, Articles 7 and 38).
It can even be applied to the moment when Synod Rockingham 2000 adopted the revised version of this Church Order (Acts Article 90).
The brief comment, offered in this booklet, may assist the churches in the observance of this Church Order to the well-being of the congregations which have been bought by the blood of our beloved Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.