Canadian Reformed Church of Abbotsford, B.C.
P.O. Box 66
Re: The Use of Verbal "Attestations"
With concern for the maintenance of the Church Order in
the Canadian Reformed Church of Abbotsford we address Consistory regarding the
following statement in the local church bulletin dated May 14, 2006:
Next week Sunday, we hope to celebrate the Lord's Supper during the morning service. If you have visitors who would like to partake, please remind them to provide the elders with a written travel attestation or else with enough time to obtain a verbal attestation from their home congregation.
We request that Consistory give consideration to the following:
a) Article 76 of the Church Order states that "These articles, which regard the lawful order of the church, have been adopted with common accord. If the interest of the churches demand such, they may and ought to be changed, augmented or diminished. However no consistory, classis, or regional synod shall be permitted to do so, but they shall endeavor diligently to observe the articles of this Church Order as long as they have not been changed by a general synod."
b) Article 62 of the Church Order states that "Communicant members who move to a sister church shall be given ... an attestation regarding their doctrine and conduct, signed on behalf of the consistory by two of its members."
c) Article 61 of the Church Order states concerning the admission to the Lord's Supper that "Members of sister churches shall be admitted on the ground of a good attestation concerning their doctrine and conduct."
d) The verbal "attestation" referred to in the above bulletin statement does not meet the standard for attestations as set out in the Church Order for the following reasons:
i) It is not in writing. Both a regular attestation and a travel attestation are concerned with the doctrine and conduct of a member. Both also serve to admit the member to the Lord's Supper in a sister church. Consequently there is no reason that the travel attestation should not also be prepared in accordance with the criteria set out in Article 62 C.O., that is "signed on behalf of the consistory by two of its members."
ii) It is not a valid testimony. The request for admission to the Lord's Supper, on the basis of a verbal "attestation," generally comes before the elders via the mouth of one person. In this situation the Scriptural principle, maintained in Article 62 C.O., that "every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses," is not met (Matthew 18:16; see also II Corinthians 13:1).
iii) It is disorderly. The above bulletin statement incorrectly puts the onus on the Abbotsford consistory "to obtain" this verbal "attestation" for visitors so they can be admitted to the Lord's Supper. However, Article 61 C.O. correctly puts the onus on the visitors to request and obtain "a good attestation concerning their doctrine and conduct."
On the basis of the above considerations, we hereby request
a) that the Consistory discontinue its reliance on verbal "attestations;"
b) that the Consistory return to the previous policy of admitting visitors to the Lord's Supper only in accordance with Articles 62 and 61 of the Church Order; and
c) that the Consistory interact with the above considerations and requests, and respond to us in writing.
Brothers, we hope and pray that this matter will be resolved to the benefit of His Church here in Abbotsford. We wish you the Lord's blessing upon your deliberations.
Yours in His service,
John Vantil Ann Vantil