ARTICLE 28 – The ecclesiastical assemblies
Three kinds of ecclesiastical assemblies shall be maintained: the consistory, the classis, and the
ARTICLE 29 – The Ecclesiastical Assemblies
Four kinds of ecclesiastical assemblies shall be maintained: the consistory, the classis, the regional synod, and the general synod.
Vierderley Kerckelijcke t’samen-comstê sullen onderhouden worden / de Kercken-Raet / de Classicale vergaderinghen / de particuliere Synodus / ende de Generale ofte Nationale.
English translation of the Church Order of Dort (external link)
Topics related to this article
VanOene, With Common Consent
VanRongen, Decently and in Good Order
The Bible does not teach us a hierarchy, as the Roman Catholic Church does. The Church Order emphasises in article 80 (FRCA) / 74 (CANRC) that “No church shall in any way lord it over other churches, no office-bearer over other office-bearers.” The local church elects its own office bearers. The local consistory is responsible for the supervision over the local congregation. The local churches have the calling to seek contact with other churches which are standing on the same basis. As churches in Australia we form the federation of the Free Reformed Churches of Australia. Churches which form this federation. We are not a national denomination with about 4500 members, but a federation of 16 churches. These churches come together, through delegation, at major assemblies, to work together in matters they have in common, and to hold each other to account, as we should within the communion of saints. That we are a federation of churches means that only churches can put matters on the agenda of major assemblies, and not individuals. There is one exception: appeals. If someone is personally wronged by his consistory, then he has the right to ask the major assembly for judgment, and the churches have promised to be bound by decisions of major assemblies. However, individual members should not be allowed to put general matters on the agenda by way of appeal. That is for the churches.
Another example is the use of attestations. The Church Order emphasises that the consistory is responsible for the admission to the Lord’s Supper (article 57). The consistory can only admit those who have made a public profession of the Reformed faith and lead a godly life. That is about members of its own congregation, but also believers from outside the congregation. If a guest presents himself to the consistory with the desire to attend the Lord’s Supper, then the consistory shall examine him (or her) to see if he has made a profession of the Reformed faith and leads a godly life. If this person lives locally, he will also become a member of the church, but if someone is traveling and comes from a reformed church which is not a sister church, such a person can be admitted after examination by the consistory, even though he/she will not become a member. The one exception to this rule is those who come from sister churches. We have agreed that we trust the judgment of consistories of sister churches so that when they give a good attestation about someone’s doctrine and conduct, we will accept that as sufficient to admit to the Lord’s Supper.