The Orthodox Christian Reformed Church of Cambridge

The Church Order of the

Orthodox Christian Reformed Churches

Based on the Church Order of Dort, adopted by the Federation of Orthodox Christian Reformed Churches, Cambridge, Ontario, March 1988, with revisions through Synod 2006  added.

The Offices

Ecclesiastical Assemblies

Doctrines, Sacraments, and other Ceremonies

Censure and Ecclesiastical Admonition

ARTICLE 1

For the maintenance of good order in the Churches of Christ it is necessary that there should be: offices, assemblies, supervision of doctrine, sacraments and ceremonies, and Christian discipline; of which matters the following articles treat in due order.

I.       THE OFFICES

ARTICLE 2

The offices are of three kinds: of the ministers of the Word, of the elders, and of the deacons.

ARTICLE 3

No one shall be permitted to enter upon the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments without having been lawfully called thereunto. And when any one acts contrary thereto, and after being frequently admonished does not desist, the Classis shall judge whether he is to be declared a schismatic or is to be punished in some other way.

ARTICLE 4

The lawful calling of those who have not been previously in office consists: first, in the election by the Consistory and the deacons, after preceding prayers, with due observance of the regulations established by the Consistory for this purpose, and of the ecclesiastical ordinance, that only those can for the first time be called to the ministry of the Word who have been declared eligible by the Churches, according to the rule in this matter (see below), and furthermore with the advice of Classis or of the counselor appointed for this purpose by the Classis; secondly, in the examination both of doctrine and life which shall be conducted by the Classis, to which the call must be submitted for approval, and which shall take place in the presence of three delegates of Synod from the nearest classes; thirdly, in the approbation by the members of the calling Church, when, the name of the minister having been announced for two successive Sundays, no lawful objection arises, which approbation, however, is not required in the case the election takes place with the cooperation of the congregation by choosing out of a nomination previously made; finally, in the public ordination in the presence of the congregation, which shall take place with appropriate stipulations and interrogations, admonitions and prayers and imposition of hands by the officiating minister (and by the other ministers who are present) agreeable to the Form for that  purpose.

Synodical decision regarding students: Synod 1995, Art. 44:  Students for the Ministry in our Churches shall receive formal instruction in 1. Our Confessions, 2. Reformed Church History, 3. Reformed Church Polity and the Church Order, and 4. Heidelberg Catechism Preaching, before being eligible for call in our Churches.

Synodical decision regarding eligibility for call: Synod 1992, Art, 29: A man may be declared eligible for a call who has been examined by three Consistories.

Synodical decision regarding examination: Synod 1999, Art. 18:

1.                  At the conclusion of the examination in each subject, the Synodical Delegates shall be given the privilege of the floor to ask additional questions.

2.                  The Synodical Delegates shall be allowed the floor during the deliberations of Classis in deciding whether to sustain or not to sustain the examination.
 

ARTICLE 5

Ministers already in the ministry of the Word, who are called to another Congregation, shall likewise be called in the aforesaid manner by the Consistory and the deacons.

In calling, and for the repeated calling of the same minister during the same vacancy, the Consistory and the deacons shall observe both consistorial regulations and general ecclesiastical ordinances for eligibility.

Further, this calling shall be done with the advice of the Classis, or of the counselor, appointed by the Classis, and the approval of the members of the calling congregation, as stated in Article 4∑.

A minister, upon acceptance of a call shall show to Classis or to the delegates appointed by Classis, good ecclesiastical testimonials of doctrine and life; whereupon the minister shall be installed with appropriate stipulations and prayers agreeable to the Form for this purpose.

ARTICLE 6 (deleted)

ARTICLE 7

No one shall be called to the ministry of the Word, without his being stationed in a particular place, except he be sent as a missionary.

ARTICLE 8

Persons who have not pursued the regular course of study in preparation for the ministry of the Word, and have therefore not been declared eligible according to Article 4, shall not be admitted to the ministry unless there is assurance of their exceptional gifts, godliness, humility, modesty, common sense, and discretion, as also gifts of public address. When such persons present themselves for the ministry. the Classis, (if the Synod approve) shall first examine them, and further deal with them as it shall deem edifying, according to the general regulations of the Churches.

ARTICLE 9

Preachers without fixed charge shall not be admitted to the ministry in the Churches until they have been declared eligible, after careful examination, by the Classis, with the approval of Synod. 

ARTICLE 10

A minister, once lawfully called, may nor leave the congregation with which he is connected, to accept a call elsewhere, without the consent of the Consistory together with the deacons, and knowledge on the part of the Classis; likewise no other Church may receive him until he has presented a proper certificate of dismissal from the Church and the Classis where he served.

ARTICLE 11

On the other hand, the Consistory as representing the congregation, shall also be bound to provide for the proper support of its ministers, and shall not dismiss them from service without the knowledge and approbation of the Classis and of the delegates of the Synod.

ARTICLE 12

Inasmuch as a minister of the Word, once lawfully called as described above, is bound to the service of the Churches for life, he is not allowed to enter upon a secular vocation except for such weighty reasons as shall receive the approval of the Classis.

ARTICLE 13

Ministers, who, by reason of age, sickness, or otherwise, are rendered incapable of performing the duties of their office, shall nevertheless retain the honor and title of a minister, and the Church which they have last served shall provide honorably for them (likewise for the orphans and widows of ministers). The other Churches shall recognize their responsibility to assist in this provision as in any other diaconal work.

ARTICLE 14∑

If any minister, for the aforesaid or any other reasons, is compelled  to discontinue his service for a time, which shall not take place without the advice of the Consistory, he shall nevertheless at all times be and remain subject to the call of the congregation.

ARTICLE 15

No one shall be permitted, neglecting the ministry of his Church or being without a fixed charge, to preach indiscriminately without the consent and authority of Synod or Classis. Likewise, no one shall be permitted to preach or administer the sacraments in another Church without the consent of the Consistory of that Church.

ARTICLE 16

The office of the minister is to continue in prayer and in the ministry of the Word, to dispense the sacraments, to watch over his brethren the elders and deacons, as well as the congregation, and finally, with the elders to exercise Church discipline and to see to it that everything is done decently and in good order.

ARTICLE 17

Among the ministers of the Word equality shall be maintained with respect to the duties of their office and also in other matters as far as possible according to the judgment of the Consistory, and if necessary, of the Classis; which equality shall also be maintained in the case of elders and the deacons.

ARTICLE 18

(Article deleted)

ARTICLE 19

The Churches shall exert themselves, as far as necessary, that there may be students supported by them to be trained for the ministry of the Word.

Synodical decision regarding students: Synod 1995, Art. 44:  Students for the Ministry in our Churches shall receive formal instruction in 1. Our Confessions, 2. Reformed Church History, 3. Reformed Church Polity and the Church Order, and 4. Heidelberg Catechism Preaching, before being eligible for call in our Churches.

ARTICLE 20

A.  Students who have received permission according to the rule in this matter, and persons who have according to Article 8 been judged competent to be prepared for the ministry of the Word, shall for their own training, and for the sake of becoming known to the congregations, be allowed to speak a word of exhortation in the meetings for public worship.

B.  If, in the judgment of Classis, special need arise, other persons, who although not preparing for the ministry, nor seeking admission under Article 8, may, if judged competent according to the qualifications stated in Article 8, he allowed to speak a word of exhortation in the meetings for public worship. The request must originate from a Church which shall show special need. Such persons shall exhort only within the bounds of Classis and for a limited time.

ARTICLE 21

The Consistories shall see to it that the cause of Christian education (e.g. Christian day schools, home schools) is diligently promoted within the congregations in order that the children be instructed according to the demands of the covenant.

Amended by Synod 2001, Minutes Article 8.

ARTICLE 22

The elders shall be chosen by the judgment of the Consistory and the deacons according to the regulations for that purpose established by the Consistory. In pursuance of these regulations, every Church shall be at liberty, according to its circumstances, to give the members an opportunity to direct attention to suitable persons, in order that the Consistory may thereupon either present to the congregation for election as many elders as are needed, that they may, after they are approved by it, unless any obstacle arise, be installed with public prayers, and stipulations; or present a double number to the congregation and thereupon install the one-half chosen by it, in the aforesaid manner, agreeable to the form for this purpose.

ARTICLE 23

The office of the elders, in addition to what was said in Article 16 to be their duty in common with the minister of the Word is:

A. To take heed that the ministers, together with their fellow elders and deacons, faithfully discharge their office; and

B. To visit the families of the congregation at least annually in order to comfort and instruct the members; and

C. To promote the work of evangelism.

ARTICLE 24

The deacons shall be chosen, approved, and installed in the same manner as was stated concerning the elders.

ARTICLE 25

A.  The duty of deacons first lies with the care of Christís poor and distressed within the congregation in which they hold office. In the discharge of their office they must diligently collect alms and other contributions of charity, and after mutual counsel, faithfully and diligently distribute the same to the poor as their needs may require it; to visit and comfort the distressed and to exercise care that the alms are not misused; of which they shall render an account in Consistory, and also to the congregation, at such a time and to such an extent as the Consistory may see fit.

B.  The deacons may direct alms to such Christian institutions of mercy and other endeavors of Christian mercy as the Consistory shall approve. It is further desirable that the deaconates of the Churches consult and assist one another in the discharge of their duties.

ARTICLE 26

(Combined with Article 25)

ARTICLE 27

The elders and deacons shall serve two or more years according to the local regulations, and a proportionate number shall retire each year. The retiring officers shall be succeeded by others unless the circumstances and the profit of any Church, in the execution of Articles 22 and 24, render a re-election advisable. However, a consistory shall also be at liberty to implement a lifetime term of office, with the consent of the congregation.

Amended by Synod 2004, Art. 14.

ARTICLE 28

The Consistory shall take care that the Churches for the possession of their property and the peace and order of their meetings can claim the protection of the authorities; it should be well understood, however, that for the sake of peace and material possession they may never suffer the royal government of Christ over His Church to be in the least infringed upon.

Back to Top

 

II.     OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL ASSEMBLIES

 

ARTICLE 29

The Consistory is the only assembly in the Churches with continuing authority, delegated directly by Christ and directly accountable for it to Christ. Although it is not required by Scripture, the Confessions, or this Church Order, Consistories may choose, by the delegation of certain of their authority, to call a broader assembly to meet.

ARTICLE 30

In these assemblies ecclesiastical matters only shall be transacted and that in an ecclesiastical manner. In broader assemblies only such matters shall be dealt with as could not be finished in higher assemblies, or such as pertain to the Churches of the broader assembly in common.

ARTICLE 31

If any one complains that he has been wronged by the decision of a higher assembly, he shall have the right to appeal to a broader assembly. Whatever may be agreed upon (in this and in other ecclesiastical matters) by a majority vote shall be considered settled and binding, unless it be adjudged (by a Consistory) to conflict with the Word of God or with the Articles of the Church Order.

ARTICLE 32

The proceedings of all assemblies shall begin by calling upon the Name of God and be closed with thanksgiving.

ARTICLE 33

Those who are delegated to the assemblies shall bring with them their credentials and instructions signed by those sending them, and they shall have a vote in all matters, except such as particularly concern their persons or Churches.

ARTICLE 34∑

In all assemblies there shall be not only a president, but also a clerk to keep a faithful record of all important matters.

ARTICLE 35

The office of the president is to state and explain the business to be transacted, to see to it that everyone observe due order in speaking; to silence the captious and those who are vehement in speaking; and to properly discipline them if they refuse to listen. Furthermore, his office shall cease when the assembly arises.

ARTICLE 36

The authority of the broader assemblies is derivative. A Classis has the same jurisdiction over a Consistory as a Synod has over a Classis.

ARTICLE 37

In all Churches there shall be a Consistory composed of the ministers of the Word and the elders, who at least in larger congregations, shall, as a rule, meet once a week (month). The minister of the Word (or the ministers, if there be more than one, in turn) shall preside and regulate the proceedings. Wherever the number of the elders is small, the deacons may be added to the Consistory by local regulation; this shall invariably be the rule where the number is less than three.

ARTICLE 38

In places where the Consistory is to be constituted for the first time or anew, this shall not take place except with the advice of the Classis.

ARTICLE 39

Places where as yet no Consistory can be constituted shall be under the care of a neighboring Consistory.

ARTICLE 40

The deacons shall meet at least once a month to transact the business pertaining to their office, calling upon the Name of God; whereunto the ministers shall take good heed and if necessary they shall be present.

ARTICLE 41

The classical meetings shall consist of neighboring Churches, that respectively delegate, that respectively delegate, with proper credentials Consistory members to meet at such a time and place as was determined by the previous classical meeting. Such meetings shall be held at least once a year. The delegates shall choose the President, Vice-President, and Clerk for each one of these meetings.

Furthermore, at the beginning of the meeting, the president shall, among other things, present the following questions to the delegates of each Church:

1. Are the Consistory meetings regularly held in your church; and are they held according to the needs of the congregation?

2. Is the ministry of the Word faithfully exercised?

3. Are the sacraments properly administered?

4. Is Church discipline faithfully exercised?

5. Are the poor adequately cared for?

6. Does the Consistory diligently promote the cause of Christian education (e.g. Christian day schools, home schooling) within the congregation?

7. Has the Consistory, with diligent search and counsel, directed to suitable Church membership or affiliation, all baptized and communicant members, who have, since the last meeting of Classis, moved, either temporarily or permanently, to where no Orthodox Christian Reformed Churches are found?

And finally, at one but the last meeting and, if necessary, at the last meeting before Synod, delegates shall be chosen to attend said Synod.

Guideline to the above Article 41:

Synod 1995, Art. 16: When any two Consistories agree, the convening Church shall call an emergency Classis to deal with matters that cannot wait until the next regular Classis.

The agenda of an emergency Classis shall be limited to its stated purpose, and all its dealings shall be in accordance with classical regulations.

All Churches shall be informed of such an emergency Classis at least two full weeks in advance and of the purpose for calling the emergency Classis. This procedure gives Consistories opportunity to:

1. Discuss  the issue(s)  involved;  2.  Instruct  their delegates;  and 3.  Issue proper credentials.

Amended by Synod 2001, Minutes Article 8

ARTICLE 42

Where in a Church there are more ministers than one, also those not delegated according to the foregoing Article shall have the right to attend Classis with advisory vote, in an advisory capacity only.

ARTICLE 43

At the close of the broader assemblies, censure shall be exercised over those who in the meeting have done something worthy of punishment, or who have scorned the admonition of the higher assemblies (Consistories).

ARTICLE 44

The Classis shall authorize at least two of her oldest, most experienced, and competent ministers and/or elders to visit all the Churches once in a year and to take heed whether the minister and the Consistory faithfully perform the duties of their office, adhere to sound doctrine, observe in all things the adopted order, and properly promote as much as lies in them, through word and deed, the up-building of the congregation, in particular of the youth, to the end that they may in time fraternally admonish those who have in anything been negligent, and may by their advice and assistance help direct all things unto peace, up-building, and greatest profit of the Churches, and each Classis may continue these visitors in service as long as it sees fit, except where the visitors themselves request to be released for reasons of which the Classis shall judge.

ARTICLE 45

It shall be the duty of the Church in which the Classis and likewise the (Particular or) General Synod meets to furnish the following meeting with the minutes of the preceding. 

ARTICLE 46

Instructions concerning matters to be considered in broader assemblies shall not be written until the decision of previous Synods touching these matters have been read, in order that what was once decided be not again proposed, unless a revision be deemed necessary. Amendments:

Svnod 1995, Art. 12: One Synod shall not change the decisions of a prior Synod with less than a two-thirds majority of delegates agreeing.

ARTICLE 47

(Every year, or if need be oftener, four or five or more neighboring Classes shall meet as a Particular Synod, to which each Classis shall delegate two ministers and two elders. At the close of both the Particular and General Synod some Church shall be empowered to determine with the advice of Classis the time and place of the next Synod.)

ARTICLE 48

(Each Synod shall be at liberty to solicit and hold correspondence with its neighboring Synod or Synods, in such manner as they shall judge most conducive to general edification.)

ARTICLE 49

Each broader assembly shall delegate some Consistory or Consistories to execute everything ordained by the assembly, both as to what pertains to the government and to the respective assemblies resorting over it, and likewise to supervise together or in smaller number all examinations of future ministers. And moreover, in all other eventual difficulties they shall extend help to the higher assemblies in order that proper unity, order, and soundness of doctrine may be maintained and established. Also they shall keep proper record of all their actions to report thereof to the broader assembly, and if it be demanded, give reasons. They shall also not be discharged from their service before and until the broader assembly itself discharges them.

ARTICLE 50

The General Synod shall ordinarily meet annually. Each Classis shall delegate two ministers and two elders to this Synod. If at least a majority of the Classes deem it necessary that the Synod meet either earlier or later than the regular time, the local Church charged with convening the Synod shall in due season determine when and where it is to meet.

Amendments:

Synod 1992, Art. 11: The General Synod shall ordinarily meet once every three years.

Synod 1992,.Art. 36: All Classis and Synod meetings shall be represented by two elders and one pastor from every Church, and every Church shall receive three votes per Church at these meetings.

Synod 1995, Art. 10: Clarification of above: The interpretation of one vote per delegate is mutually accepted. (This if a Church could not be represented fully.)

ARTICLE 51

The calling, support, and supervision of missionaries shall be the responsibility of the Consistory of each Church. The Churches should, however, assist one another in the support of missionaries.

ARTICLE 52

Inasmuch as different languages are spoken in the Churches, the necessary translations shall be made in the ecclesiastical assemblies, and in the publication of recommendations, instructions and decisions.

Back to Top

III. OF DOCTRINES, SACRAMENTS AND OTHER CEREMONIES

ARTICLE 53

The ministers of the Word of God, the elders, and the deacons shall subscribe to the three Formulas of Unity: namely, the Belgic Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dordrecht, 1618-19, and any of the aforementioned office-bearers who refuse to do so shall de facto be suspended from their office by the Consistory or Classis until they shall have given a full statement, and if they obstinately persist in refusing, they shall be deposed from their office.

ARTICLE 54

(Combined with Article 53)

ARTICLE 55

To ward off false doctrines and errors that multiply exceedingly through heretical writings, the ministers and elders shall use the means of teaching, of refutation, or warning, and of admonition, as well in the ministry of the Word as in Christian teaching and family visiting.

ARTICLE 56

The covenant of God shall be sealed unto the children of Christians by baptism, as soon as the administration thereof is feasible, in the public assembly when the Word of God is preached.

ARTICLE 57

The Consistory shall do their utmost to the end that the father present his child for baptism. 

ARTICLE 58

In the ceremony of baptism, both of children and adults, the minister shall use the respective Forms drawn up for the administration of this sacrament.

ARTICLE 59

Adults are through baptism incorporated into the Christian Church, and are accepted as members of the Church, and are therefore obliged also to partake of the Lordís Supper, which they shall promise to do at their baptism.

ARTICLE 60

The names of those baptized, together with those of the parents, and likewise the date of birth and baptism, shall be recorded.

ARTICLE 61

None shall be admitted to the Lordís Supper except those who according to the usage of the Church with which they unite themselves have made a confession of the Reformed religion, besides being reputed to be of a godly walk, without which also those who come from other Churches shall not be admitted.

ARTICLE 62

Every Church shall administer the Lordís Supper in such a manner as it shall judge most conducive to edification; provided, however, that the outward ceremonies as prescribed in Godís Word be not changed and all superstition be avoided, and that at the conclusion of the sermon and the usual prayers, the Form for the Administration of the Lordís Supper, together with the prayer for that purpose, shall be read.

ARTICLE 63

The Lordís Supper shall be administered at least every two or three months.

ARTICLE 64

The administration of the Lordís Supper shall take place only where there is supervision of elders, according to ecclesiastical order and a public gathering of the congregation.

ARTICLE 65

Funerals are not ecclesiastical, but family affairs, and should be conducted accordingly.

ARTICLE 66

In time of war, pestilence, national calamities, and other great afflictions, the pressure of which is felt throughout the Churches, it is fitting the Classes proclaim Days of Prayer.

ARTICLE 67

The Churches shall observe in addition to the Sunday, also Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension Day, Pentecost, the Day of Prayer, the National Thanksgiving Day, and Old and New Yearís Day.

ARTICLE 68

The ministers shall on Sunday explain briefly the sum of Christian doctrine comprehended in the Heidelberg Catechism so that as much as possible the explanation shall be annually completed, according to the division of the Catechism itself, for that purpose. 

ARTICLE 69

In the Churches only the 150 Psalms of David and the collection of hymns for Church use, approved and adopted by Synod, shall be sung. However, while the singing of the Psalms in divine worship is a requirement, the use of the approved hymns is left to the freedom of the Churches.

ARTICLE 70

Since it is proper that the matrimonial state be confirmed in the presence of Christís Church, according to the Form for that purpose, the Consistories shall attend to it.

Back to Top

IV. OF CENSURE AND ECCLESIASTICAL ADMONITION

ARTICLE 71

As Christian Discipline is of a spiritual nature, and exempts no one from civil trial or punishment by the authorities, so also besides civil punishment there is need of ecclesiastical censures, to reconcile the sinner with the Church and his neighbor and to remove the offense out of the Church of Christ.

ARTICLE 72

In case any one errs in doctrine or offends in conduct, as long as the sin is of a private character, not giving public offense, the rule clearly prescribed by Christ in Matthew 18 shall be followed.

ARTICLE 73

Secret sins, of which the sinner repents, after being admonished by one person in private or in the presence of two or three witnesses, shall not be laid before the Consistory.

ARTICLE 74

If any one, having been admonished in love concerning a secret sin by two or three persons, does not give heed, or otherwise has committed a public sin, the matter shall be reported to the Consistory.

ARTICLE 75

The reconciliation of all such sins as are of the nature of a public character, or have become public because the admonition of the Church was despised, shall take place (upon sufficient evidence of repentance) in such a manner as the Consistory shall deem conducive to the edification of each Church. Whether in particular cases this shall take place in public, shall, when there is a difference of opinion about it in the Consistory, be considered with the advice of two neighboring Churches or of the Classis.

ARTICLE 76

Those who obstinately reject the admonitions of the Consistory, or those who have committed a public or otherwise gross sin, shall be subject to ecclesiastical discipline.  Discipline shall proceed in the following manner:

a.      Silent censure.

The Consistory shall suspend the sinner from the Lordís Supper. This shall be done with appropriate admonitions to repentance and without the knowledge of the congregation.

b.      First announcement without name.

If, after repeated admonitions, the sinner refuses to repent, the Consistory shall make public announcement to the congregation, making known the obstinacy of the sinner, explaining the offense, together with the care bestowed on him, in reproof, suspension from the Lordís Supper, and repeated admonitions.  The Consistory shall exhort the congregation to pray for the sinner.  The name shall not be made public.

c.       Second announcement with name, after advice of two neighboring Consistories.

If, after repeated admonitions, the sinner refuses to repent, the Consistory shall make another public announcement to the congregation, stating, as in b above, the condition of the sinner and the work of the Consistory.  In this announcement the name of the sinner shall be made public, but only with the advice of two neighboring Consistories.  The Consistory shall exhort the congregation to speak to him and to pray for him.

d.      Third announcement: date of excommunication.

If, after repeated admonitions, the sinner refuses to repent, the Consistory shall seek the advice of Classis before proceeding to excommunications. After receiving such advice, the consistory shall announce to the congregation that, unless he repent, he shall be excluded from the fellowship of the Church, so that is excommunication, in case he remains obstinate, may take place with the tacit approbation of the Church.

e.       Excommunication.

If, after repeated admonitions, the sinner refuses to repent, the Consistory shall proceed to the extreme remedy, excommunication. The Consistory shall use the Form adopted for that purpose according to the Word of God in the public assembly of the Church.

 

The intervals between the steps shall be left to the discretion of the Consistory.

 

Rewritten, Synod 2004, Art 12.

 

ARTICLE 77

In case a non-confessing member hardens himself in sin, the Consistory shall in the same manner inform the congregation by means of Public announcements.

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, and if after repeated admonitions the sinner refuses to repent,  the name of the sinner shall be mentioned and a date shall be set at which the sinner shall be excluded from the Church.

(Revised Synod 1992. Art. 39.)

Addition Synod 1992, Art. 40:

In case a non-confessing member hardens himself in sin, the Consistory shall in the same manner inform the congregation by means of Public announcements.

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 two neighboring Consistories, the name of the sinner shall be mentioned and a date shall be set at which the sinner shall be excluded from the Church.

Rewritten, Synod 2004, Art 12 (this re-writing renders the foregoing notations regarding revisions and additions to this Article superfluous. They are retained here for the sake of historical record).

ARTICLE 78

Whenever anyone who has been excommunicated desires to become reconciled to the Church in the way of penitence, it shall be announced to the congregation, either before the celebration of the Lordís Supper, or at some other opportune time, in order that (insofar as no one can mention anything against him to the contrary) he may with profession of his conversion be publicly reinstated, according to the Form for that purpose.

ARTICLE 79

When ministers of the divine Word, elders or deacons, have committed any public, gross sin, which is a disgrace to the Church, or worthy of punishment by the authorities, the elders, and deacons shall immediately by preceding sentence of the Consistory thereof and of the nearest Church, be suspended or expelled from their office, but the ministers shall only be suspended. Whether these shall be entirely deposed from office, shall be subject to the judgment of the Classis, with the advice of the delegates of the (Particular) Synod mentioned in Article 11.

ARTICLE 80

Furthermore, among the gross sins, which are worthy of being punished with suspension or deposition from office, these are the principal ones; false doctrine or heresy, public schism, public blasphemy, simony, faithless desertion of office or intrusion upon that of another, perjury, adultery, fornication, theft, acts of violence, habitual drunkenness, brawling, filthy lucre; in short, all sins and gross offenses, as render the perpetrators infamous before the world, and which in any private member of the Church would be considered worthy of excommunication.

ARTICLE 81

The ministers of the Word, elders, and deacons, shall before the celebration of the Lordís Supper exercise Christian censure among themselves and in a friendly spirit admonish one another with regard to the discharge of their office.

ARTICLE 82

To those who remove from the congregation a letter or testimony concerning their profession and conduct shall be given by the Consistory, signed by two.

ARTICLE 83

Furthermore, to the poor, removing for sufficient reasons, so much money for traveling shall be given by the deacons as they deem adequate. The Consistory and the deacons shall, however, see to it that they be not too much inclined to relieve their Churches of the poor, with whom they would without necessity burden other Churches.

ARTICLE 84

No Church shall in any way lord it over other Churches, no minister over other ministers, no elder or deacon over other elders or deacons.

ARTICLE 85

Churches whose usages differ from ours merely in non-essentials shall not be rejected.

ARTICLE 86

These Articles, relating to the lawful order of the Churches, have been so drafted and adopted by common consent, that they (if the profit of the Churches demand otherwise) may and ought to be altered, augmented or diminished. However, no particular congregation, Classis, (or Synod), shall be at liberty to do so, but they shall show all diligence in observing them, until it be otherwise ordained by the General Synod.

Amendments:

Synod 1995, Art. 11: No Synod is to change the Church Order unless at least a two-thirds majority of delegates vote in favor of said change.

 

General Synodical Procedural Provisions:

Synod 1995, Regarding Overtures:

Article 15: All overtures and/or appeals (except in disciplinary cases) to be brought before Synod are to be forwarded to Synod by the Consistory(s) where they originated or first came to light, ordinarily carrying with them the advice of Classis.

Back to Top