Position Papers: 1973 - 1998
2nd General Assembly, 1974, 2-100, II, A, 1, p. 75.
INTERCHURCH RELATIONS - POLICY STATEMENT
1. That the following statement constitute the policy of the General Assembly in these two areas of Interchurch Relations:
a. Churches in Correspondence:
The Presbyterian Church in America recognizes that the Body of Christ on earth consists of many parts and that churches other than our own are Christian Churches, bearing a faithful testimony to the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ and the visible fellowship which is the fruit of that testimony. With all such churches, subsumed under and defined by the commonly accepted meaning of the term Evangelical, this Church desires to be in correspondence.
b. Churches in Fraternal Relation:
Within the fellowship of Christian Churches, there are some specifically defined by doctrine and polity similar to those of the Presbyterian Church in America. Of such are those denominations adhering by conviction and public subscription to one or more of the historic Reformed confessions, viz., the Westminster Confession of Faith, The Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms; and practicing historic Presbyterian polity, viz., government by representatives of the people according to the Scriptural pattern of the eldership, with parity among ministers and ordained laymen. Among such, moreover there is the plain and unequivocal acceptance of the Old and New Testaments as the inerrant Word of God, written, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
With such Churches, the Presbyterian Church in America wishes to enter the possibilities and potentials of fraternal relations, such a connection to include:
1. Appointing of delegates to each other's supreme judicatories as a token of mutual friendship and interest in the Lord.
To carry out these objectives, the General Assembly shall elect a Committee on Interchurch Relations to function under the administrative oversight of the Permanent Committee on Administration. This Committee will seek to become informed of all contact made by agencies of the Presbyterian Church in America with corresponding agencies of other denominations and will offer its services to such agencies in the development of such contacts.
The Committee, further, will be responsible for the development of fraternal relations whenever these may be desired, sought or authorized by the General Assembly, and will nominate to the Assembly fraternal delegates to those churches with which the General Assembly desires to establish such relations.
2. That the following statement constitutes the policy of General Assembly in the area of functional relations with other Christian bodies:
From time to time [the General Assembly] may authorize relations with cooperative evangelical organizations existing to perform specific tasks related to the total interests of the Church. Membership in such bodies, however, shall be only by vote of the Assembly.
The General Assembly further authorizes contacts and consultations within the wider Christian community where these, in the judgment of the Committee on Interchurch Relations, may extend the witness of this Church to the advantage of the cause of Jesus Christ; except that no decisions or commitments may be made in the name of the Presbyterian Church in America without express authorization of the Assembly.
3. That the General Assembly implement this policy as follows:
a. That the General Assembly authorize the establishment of fraternal relations with the following Churches, if the way be clear:
The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
The Christian Reformed Church
The Orthodox Presbyterian Church
The Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America
The Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod
b. That the membership of the Committee on Interchurch Relations be set at 3 ministers and 3 ruling elders, established in classes, with the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly as a member ex officio. The Committee suggests that the new class proposed to the Assembly by the Nominating Committee be added to the present membership in order to increase the total to the above recommended number: this class to be designated Class of 1977, and the others designated Class of 1976 and Class of 1975, respectively.
c. That the Assembly ratify the decision of the Committee on Interchurch Relations to participate in a plenary session of all such committees of those Churches names in 3 a, above and authorize such participation in a meeting proposed for October 25-26, in Pittsburgh, Pa.
1. That the communication from the Presbyterian Church in Australia be answered as follows:
That General Assembly authorize the Committee on Interchurch Relations to enter into correspondence with the Presbyterian Church in Australia with a view to establishing possible overseas contact with that Church.
2. That communications from non-church related organizations be answered as follows:
a. That requests for speaking time by representatives of groups not of the Church be answered in the negative, but that representatives of such groups be introduced at such time that other distinguished guests are introduced to the Assembly.
b. That the request from the Lord's Day Alliance that the Presbyterian Church in America send an observer to their meeting, October 17, 1974, in Nashville, Tennessee, be answered in the affirmative, and that the Interchurch Relations Committee be directed to name an observer to that meeting.
John W. Stodghill, Chairman
E.C. Case, Clerk.