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Willoughby - Recommendation to Council from Pastoral Elders

From the Pastoral Elders to the Council of Willoughby Christian Reformed Church
Willoughby Christian Reformed Church
March 2013

As Pastoral Elders we affirm the 2011 decision of the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church to widen the invitation to the Lord’s Table to all baptized members who wish to participate on the basis of their membership in the covenant community.

As Pastoral Elders we recommend that Council approve the following (as ratified by Synod 2011) principle to be the position for Willoughby Christian Reformed Church regarding Children at the Table.

“All baptized members are welcome to the Lord’s Supper for age and ability appropriate faith and obedience to biblical commands about participation, under the supervision of the elders.  The elders have responsibility to nurture grateful and obedient participation by providing encouragement, instruction and accountability in the congregation.  Requiring a formal public profession of faith prior to participation in the Lord’s Supper is one pastoral approach to consider, but is not required by Scripture or the confessions” (Agenda for Synod 2011, 578)

Each week God gathers us…

The Lord’s Supper is the family table at which we eat together and are nourished with Christ's sacrifice for us. God gathers the family at the Table in order to strengthen and nourish us all.  Here (as in Baptism) we celebrate  who we are - children of God – and are reminded of God's promises to be our God, to care for us, love us, and be faithful to us.  The Lord’ Supper and Baptism come to us out of God's covenant of grace with us. We can't do anything to earn a place in God's family or buy an invitation to the meal of the Lord's Supper. God does the asking and the inviting; our response is to participate as best we can with as much understanding and faith as we are capable of…the promise is ‘to you and your children’.  We are welcomed through the covenant of grace and we come to the Lord’s Table on the basis of our membership in the covenant, on the basis of our baptismal identity in Christ. 

A Brief Historical Overview of the Christian Reformed Church’s Position on Children at the Table.

In the past the practice in the CRC has been that baptized members were admitted to the Lord’s Supper upon a public profession of their faith. Normally, such a profession was not made before the latter years of high school. In 1988, synod gave encouragement to the churches that younger children should be admitted to the Lord’s Supper by way of profession of faith. Synod said, “Covenant children should be encouraged to make public profession of faith as soon as they exhibit faith and are able to discern the body and remember and proclaim the death of Jesus in celebrating the Lord’s Supper.” And then it added, “Since the Bible establishes no specific age requirement, the common practice of delaying profession of faith even though faith is present has no biblical warrant.” (Acts of Synod 1988, Art.74, page 559). In 1995, synod re-affirmed and strengthened this approach.

Synod 1991: Appoints a committee "to clarify the requirement of a public profession of faith for admission to the Lord's Supper on the part of younger covenant children" (AoS '91, 785).

Synod 1995: Receives two reports: Report A affirms the necessity of a public profession; Report B urges admittance on the basis of covenant membership. Synod essentially adopts Report A and a four-step process for facilitating that profession of faith for young children.

Synod in 2006, in response to an overture, synod allowed “for the admission of all baptized members to the Lord’s Supper on the basis of their full membership in the covenant community” (Acts of Synod 2006, Art.71, page 730). However, because this decision involved a major policy change, it required a ratification by the following synod before it could become official.

Synod 2007 did not ratify the decision of 2006 therefore it did not take effect. Instead, synod created the Faith Formation Committee to guide the denomination through this issue.

Synod 2010 adopted and Synod 2011 ratified the principle regarding Children at the Table as recommended by the Faith Formation Committee.