Overture from Eastern Han-Ca Presbytery

To the Venerable 146th General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada:

WHEREAS, Korean congregations from 1967 onwards entered into a mutual covenant with The Presbyterian Church in Canada for the reason that our theological and doctrinal beliefs, expression of faith and worship, and governance were in consonance with those of The Presbyterian Church in Canada; and

WHEREAS, these beliefs of The Presbyterian Church in Canada are found in our subordinate standards – the Westminster Confession of Faith adopted in 1875 and 1889, the Declaration Concerning Church and Nation of 1954, and Living Faith (and its translations) adopted in 1998; and

WHEREAS, each minister and elder ordained in The Presbyterian Church in Canada has vowed to accept and uphold the teaching and doctrine contained in our subordinate standards, and under the continual illumination and correction of the Holy Spirit speaking in Scriptures; and

WHEREAS, the decisions and recommendations made at the 145th General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada in 2019 indicate a departure in the beliefs, character and identity of The Presbyterian Church in Canada, and now presents itself to be a different denomination from the one with which we first entered into mutual covenant; and

WHEREAS, this change in the nature of our denomination is clearly evident in Remits B and C of the 145th General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada, which are in contradiction to our subordinate standards; and

WHEREAS, this change in the nature of our denomination is not only evident in the proposals outlined in Remits B and C, but are rather symptomatic of the wider departure in beliefs of our denomination as evidenced in the statement by the convenor of the Special Committee re Implications of Option B (Inclusion) and adopted by the 2019 General Assembly without objection, “In truth we differ theologically on many things; the role of scripture, the virgin birth, the resurrection, the place of children, of women and the priorities of the church” (2019 A&P, p. 49), much of which also contradicts our subordinate standards (our beliefs on Scripture – WCF I, XIV.i,XIV.ii, XVIII.ii, XIX, XXI.v; LF – 1.3, 1.4, 5, 8.1.5; our beliefs on the virgin birth – WCF 8.2; LF 3.2.1; our beliefs on the resurrection – WCF VIII.iv, XIII.i, XXXII; LF 2.1.4, 3.5.1, 3.5.2, 10.4); and

WHEREAS, this departure from the subordinate standards by many in the denomination is not without a damaging effect and impact upon Han-Ca congregations, and greatly undermines the evangelism and the public witness of Han-Ca congregations within the Korean-Canadian community, and poses a real and significant challenge for the pastoral ministry of current members, some of whom have expressed the intent to withdraw membership and leave the Presbyterian Church in Canada because of the change in the nature of the denomination as evidenced in the remits; and

WHEREAS, the continued movement away from the subordinate standards of The Presbyterian Church in Canada that were the basis of our covenant with the denomination, despite the unambiguous opposition of Han-Ca Presbyteries’ congregations, has functioned to silence the collective voice of the ethnically Korean congregations within a largely dominant-culture denomination, and threatens the existence of our congregations as we currently stand; and

WHEREAS, the provision for liberty of conscience and liberty of action in the remits does not mitigate the aforementioned threats and challenges to the healthy ministry of the congregations within the Han-Ca presbyteries because of the denominationally-sanctioned departure from the subordinate standards; and

WHEREAS, the liberty of conscience and action provided in the remits is not clearly defined and, according to the Book of Forms, cannot be guaranteed in perpetuity, and may be removed by a subsequent declaratory act, similar to the Declaratory Acts of 1982 and 1989 (BOF 11.2) in regards to women’s ordination;

THEREFORE, the Presbytery of Eastern Han-Ca humbly overtures the Venerable, the 146th General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada to create a safeguarded, guaranteed and permanent place with theological separation in the form of a theologically and doctrinally autonomous Synod where congregations that uphold the existing subordinate standards in the Han-Ca presbyteries and elsewhere can continue to be fully participating members in covenant with The Presbyterian Church in Canada, just as the presbyteries of Eastern and Western Han-Ca were formed on the basis of a distinct and separate language and culture in order that the ordained ministers, ruling elders, and congregations could fully participate in the denomination; or to do otherwise as the General Assembly in its wisdom deems best.

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