Reformed churches vote for serious reformation

2015-01-08 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — While the Reformed Church in South Africa remains divided over whether women should minister in the church, the protestant reverends yesterday voted to share resources with the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC).

The church’s synod was meeting in Potchefstroom to discuss matters of the church.

Two years ago, the staunch reverends voted against such co-operation in what the DRC in its chuch bulletin termed “a slap in the face”. But sources say yesterday only 10 of the 280 delegates at the Reformed Church synod voted against joining hands with its sister church.

The synod’s acceptance means that the local church councils of the Reformed and Dutch Reformed churches can now strive to reverse their dwindling congregations by voting on:

• Accepting each other’s members based on testimony of the members.

• Sharing a baptismal font for children from the respective churches;

• Sharing communion.

• Exchanging reverends to preach in the two different churches.

• Holding joint services.

In future, the two churches may also share resources on a national level, hold a joint synod and train clergy at one venue.

Dr Kobus Gerber, general secretary of the DRC, said he does not expect any objection from DRC members.

“I think it will be an open embrace,” Gerber said.

On Wednesday, the Reformed Church synod however remained without an answer to a decades-long question whether women can be ordained in the Reformed Church.

“There are people in the synod that pray a woman never stands at the pulpit. And so are there people that pray that a woman does stand there,” Reverend Sarel Cilliers, from the Waterberg congregation, was quoted as saying.

After a previous sitting in 2012, a report was written on essential and non-essential matters in the church, Beeld reported. The report was tabled at the synod on Tuesday.

Reverend Douw Breed, who chairs the synod sitting until January 15, said the question of women clergy could be decided at the synod or be referred to a smaller synod.

But Cilliers said not getting an answer at this week’s synod would create more division rather than settle the issue.

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