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August 14

1972 Reformed Ecumenical Synod

When the 1972 Reformed Ecumenical Synod convened on August 14 in Sydney, Australia at Moore Theological College, tension filled the air. A week earlier, John Galbraith and George Knight, two of the OPC's four representatives, had attended a pre-Synod Missions Conference that was marked by protesters objecting to the presence of the Rev. J. Vorster, brother of B.J. Vorster, prime minister of South Africa and a staunch advocate of the policy of apartheid.

Once the Synod started, Richard Gaffin and Norman Shepherd joined Galbraith and Knight as the OPC delegates. Professor Klaas Runia of the Reformed Seminary in Kampen, the Netherlands, and Moderator of the previous Synod, preached the opening sermon. However, disruption soon marked the proceedings. Twice during the Synod bomb threats were received, which forced the clearing of the meeting hall. A fire was set outside the residence hall where the men were housed, and only the quick action from a member of the host school kept two cans of gasoline from exploding.

On the doctrinal front, the OPC through its delegates requested that the Synod declare membership in the RES incompatible with membership in the World Council of Churches. The motion was not supported.

Picture: John Galbraith

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