Kairos Network going ahead with new synod for DRC congregations that uphold Scripture

Panellists at a Kairos Network gathering in Pretoria in July last year which ended with a media statement saying they were “done with talking” with the DRC leadership. In the photo are, front, from the left, Ds Norma Rossouw (NG Vaalrivier), Prof Henk Stoker (Theological School, Potchefstroom), Dr Tiesie de Coning (Veritas), Dr Henrietta Klaasing (Kairos Network), Prof Hoffie Hofmyer (Kairos Network). Looking on in the background is Dr Anton Knoetze (chairman of Kairos Network)

The Kairos Network (KN), an association of Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) members and groups opposed to the liberal stance of the General Synod of the DRC, are going ahead with a step they have warned was on the cards for a long time. They are planning to establish their own, alternative synod for congregations that uphold Scripture. Dr Henrietta Klaasing, a member of the executive committe of KN, reports on latest developments

Based on the conviction that the Lord has called us to it, Kairos Netwerk (KN) has developed a vision for its own additional synod with formal delegation. This planned synod is provisionally called the “Koinonia Synod”.

“Koinonia”, because we want to search together for the true community of believers. “Synod” comes from “sun hodos” (Greek “walking together”) because congregations yearn for a true “sun hodos” where congregations are again truly on the same path and can walk together towards the same end goal.

The Koinonia Synod (KS) does not just want to repeat the agendas and activities of the existing synods, but rather wants to do what the existing synods have neglected to do, such as being truly a bearer and protector of the Truth. KS wants to stick to solid teaching for future generations, training of church councils, congregation leaders, Bible study leaders, cell group leaders and so on – based on Scripture with knowledge and skill in the reformed confessions.

This Koinonia Synod (KS) will take place (God willing) from May 3 to 4 at Ingwe Guest Lodge in Vanderbijlpark.

After the recent meeting of the General Synodal Moderamen (GSM) in the first week of March, the General Synod’s task team concerning legal matters, had some points of advice on KN’s planned gathering of churches. Among other conclusions, they said that while terms such as “national synod”, “foundation meetings”, “official meeting” and “credentials” are being used by KN, no binding decisions can be made during this meeting regarding the DRC. They said that only a ring, a synod and the General Synod have that authority.

They said that delegates, office bearers and congregations who feel burdened by certain decisions of the General Synod should make use of available ecclesiastical channels such as revision, handling of ecclesiastical disputes, procedural objections, points of description and gravamina.

The task team also pointed out negative consequences that could arise for members and congregations should a separate synod or church be established. They said these include the survival of the original congregation (“universitas” principle); loss of membership of the DRC; loss of competence and consequent employability of ministers; loss of assets and properties and loss of the larger church connection with historical connections.

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The management team of KN responded to these points in a media statement. On the claim that no binding decisions can be taken, KN replied: “In the Reformed tradition, everything starts with the local congregations, each of which is fully, but not exclusively, a church. Conservative Scripture-bound congregations and members have given KN the mandate to create an opportunity where they can reflect together and decide on the way forward.

“KN foresees that the decisions to be taken by the Koinonia Synod will also be presented to the participating congregations for approval. This is in direct contrast to what the General Synod has been doing for a number of years now: they have been making decisions for the entire DRC without the congregations having a direct say.

The General Synod’s task team on legal matters also has an erroneous view of credentials: “Presbyteries, synods and the General Synod do not have exclusive rights to the use of credentials. There are numerous examples that prove the opposite. Examples are church conferences in the DRC, ecumenical bodies and even the Dordt Synod (1618 and 1619) where reformed churches met and made decisions (without credentials) that still bind churches together and have authority even today. This is in direct contrast to the GS which constitutes with credentials from synods and synodal task forces without submitting credentials from congregations.”

The legal task team furthermore advised congregations to make use of various formal church channels to object to decisions of the General Synod. KN pointed out in their reaction that these means have been extensively tried, especially since 2015, but have yielded not results. These objections are repeatedly brushed off the table on technical and other grounds without paying attention to the urgent matters of concern, said KM.

A recent request from KN to the General Synodal Moderamen to consider mediation as a means of seeking a solution was also dismissed without further ado by the GSM’s executive board. This is in direct contrast to the 2019 General Synod which knowingly allowed a description point that was illegally placed on the table to become the most controversial decision of the GS.

The legal task team totally misunderstands the purpose of the Koinonia Synod. Its unsolicited threats about membership, office competence, assets, property, etc. clearly show the malicious intent of the legal task team and the GSM.

For the conservative Scripture-faithful congregations and members, this Koinonia Synod gathering is about much more than losing church property, office or membership. It is about the disunity in the church. And, because the Truth of God’s Word and the pure reformed teaching that are increasingly being disregarded, it is about a prayerful testimony, and a call for reformation as well as an honest search for genuine unity in the Truth.

On the other hand, the GS, GSM and the legal task team of the General Synod persist in self-justification and self-maintenance at all costs.

Kairos Network therefore appeals to members, office bearers and congregations not to be intimidated by the legal task team of the General Synod and GSM in this kairos time of urgent decisions. In our sincere search for restoration in the DRC we must remember the words of Peter: “We must obey God rather than men.”— Acts 5:29

For more information, visit: www.fggsa.co.za or www.kairosnetwerk.net

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