Synod Wrap-Up

URCNA Synod 2012

During the week of synod, the URCNA’s most significant decisions were easy to spot, but the specifics could sometimes be hard to pin down.  Today, in retrospect, I’d like to review the decisions of Synod 2012 regarding each of the topics we’ve considered over the past few weeks.

Overtures #4-#6

(View articles on Overture #4, Overture #5, and Overture #6 from URC Psalmody.)

Early in the proceedings on Tuesday, synod ruled that overtures #4-#6 should be forwarded directly to the Songbook Committee rather than being addressed on the floor of synod.  Like many other URCNA members, I believe this was exactly what should have been done.  After all, why should the highly musical suggestions contained in overtures #4-#6 be subjected to the opinions of a primarily non-musical body?  Thankfully, synod exercised great wisdom here in the realization that they were “out of their depth.”

Overtures #8 and #9

(View articles on Overture #8 and Overture #9 from URC Psalmody.)

The story of these overtures is a complicated one.  Here’s the best objective summary I can give:

Delegated to address Overtures #8 and #9 as well as the Psalter Hymnal Committee report, Advisory Committee 9 made three recommendations to synod.

  1. That Synod direct the Psalter Hymnal Committee to consider ways by which there may be the least amount of unrest and concern preceding and subsequent to the implementation of a new song book with respect to these three matters: (items 1-3 in Overture #8 without lists of songs).  Two grounds were included (items 4 and 5 from the grounds of Overture #8).
  2. That this be Synod’s answer to Overture #8.
  3. That this as well as our previous report in connection with the Psalter Hymnal Committee’s Report be Synod’s answer to Overture #9.

The advisory committee’s report came before synod late at night, when many of the delegates were simply too weary for a detailed examination of the subject.  Without much debate, all three recommendations were passed.

The next morning, however, the delegates were fully awake.  It was as if synod suddenly asked, “What did we just approve?”  Concerns were raised that the recommendation didn’t actually address many of the concerns of Overture #9; that neither Overture #8 nor Overture #9 contained the background sections required by synodical procedure; and that some of the allegations in the first recommendation were fundamentally false.

As a result, after a more thorough discussion, synod rescinded some of its decisions.  The final determination: The concerns expressed in Overture #8 were referred to the Songbook Committee, while Overture #9 was rejected as irrelevant (given the joint project with the OPC).

Appeal #1

(View article on Appeal #1 from URC Psalmody.)

After some discussion, the chairman eventually ruled that Appeal #1 was out of order, as it should have been submitted as an overture instead.  Unfortunately, there will not be any closure on Living Water’s concerns until at least next synod.  However, I sensed no significant opposition to the content of the appeal—which may be a promising sign for its advocates.

Report of Church Order Committee

(View article on the PJCO from URC Psalmody.)

The Proposed Joint Church Order was received for information and further feedback to the committee.  No specific action was taken with regard to Article 36 on worship music.

Report of Psalter Hymnal Committee

(View article on the Psalter Hymnal Committee report from URC Psalmody.)

Synod asked the committee to recommend a financial plan to Synod 2014 regarding the publication of a songbook.  It also encouraged the churches of the URCNA to contribute to the Psalter Hymnal Fund.  But their most important decision was to approve the Songbook Committee’s second recommendation: “That synod accept the invitation from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church’s Seventy-eighth General Assembly ‘to work together to produce a Psalter-Hymnal for use in a wide range of confessional Presbyterian and Reformed Churches’…”  This is cause for great rejoicing!

Report of CECCA

(View article on the CECCA report from URC Psalmody.)

Nothing related to church music popped up during synod’s treatment of CECCA.

More videos of the delegates’ singing will continue to appear here on URC Psalmody over the next few weeks, but our discussions on Synod 2012 have drawn to a close.  In some ways it seems a shame—I certainly had fun in Nyack last week, and I thoroughly enjoyed reporting all of it back to you.  Not to worry though; I’ll keep the Synod 2012 information page open with links to each of these articles.  And by God’s grace, URC Psalmody will continue; soon, in fact, I hope to be sharing with you some exciting new developments.  So keep reading!

Blessings,

–MRK

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