‘The way forward for faithful Dutch Reformed congregations and members’

Rev Theo Danzfuss explains a draft concept document drawn up by the Koinonia Synod and Kairos Network to 112 church members from Dutch Reformed Church congregations at Vaalrivier DRC last Friday. The gathering was one of three regional meetings arranged to help conservative congregations plan a new road ahead

Disillusioned conservative Dutch Reformed congregations who had hoped that last month’s General Synod of the DRC would provide them with a reason to remain in the assembly, are exploring new options, writes Dr Henrietta Klaasing, an executive member of the Koinonia Synod which was launched in May

The General Synod (GS) of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) met from October 15 to 13 in Boksburg. Conservative congregations, especially Namibia, had looked forward to this meeting with anticipation. Namibia had set a condition for remaining in the GS — that the GS repent of “its heresy”.

After the meeting Namibia decided that there were not sufficient signs of repentance and the Namibian management team (moderamen) decided to start a process of detaching from the GS. The Namibian decision of 2022 becomes effective through the activation of the process of redefining the relationship with the GS. The process for the implementation of the above-mentioned in-principle decision takes place as follows:
1) a task team is appointed to, in the light of Church Order Article 37, Article 32 and other possibilities to recommend the redefinition of the relationship with the GS in line with the spirit of Namibia’s 2022 resolution;
2) a discussion document is drawn up — approved by the Namibian management team — regarding the theological distance between Namibia and the GS, as well as the possibilities and implications for the Namibian Synod, which will be discussed by each congregation with a view to feedback to the task force and management team;
3) the task team, in consultation with the management team, formulates proposals for the 2025 Namibian Synod where the process is finally concluded;
4) the task team submits their first progress report to the management team by February 20 2024;
5) all final feedback must be submitted to the management team by November 2024.

An interesting new development at the GS meeting last month was to change article 32 of the church order which confines congregations and members to a geographical area. The plan is to change it to allow congregations to become part of Namibia, for instance, or of any synod or congregation which has suspended its connection with the GS, irrespective of geographical location.

Koinonia Synod ‘road ahead’ meetings
Meanwhile, there was also growing unhappiness among the Koinonia Synod’s congregations. A draft document was drawn up by the extended working group of Koinonia Synod and Kairos Network. The first of three “road ahead” meetings with the theme “Come and build together a reforming, renewing and Scripturally confessing church! (John 8:31-36)” was held on Friday November 17 at the Vaalrivier congregation, Vanderbijlpark.

A “road ahead” meeting in the south is planned for Friday November at Die Strand DRC and one more will be held in the central region on Friday December 1 at Leeuwberg DRC , Bloemfontein.

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This Koinonia Synod-Kairos Netwerk draft is being discussed in detail at each of the three regional meetings and will then be taken to congregations for further discussion. The draft document is based on the Public Creed which DRC members make during their confession of faith, and the Solemn Legitimation Declaration made at the ordination of ministers. Our membership pledge and creeds bind us to true freedom. So we confirm our true freedom in Christ. That is why we refuse to become slaves again to heresy and church hierarchy.

Koinonia Synod plans a meeting early in 2024 to get feedback from the congregations on the draft document. For more information on the “road ahead” meetings see https://koinoniasinode.org.za/

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