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Meeting 10:30 a.m. Sundays

10222 101 Ave
(Golden Age Center)
Grande Prairie, AB

"The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread."

Paedocommunion in Our HiStory

Note: We have provided this account in the hope of clearing up possible misunderstanding regarding how and why Christ Covenat was formed. A more general account of our history can be found on "Our History" page.

Christ Covenant Church was largely founded by a leadership core that had been also instrumental in founding another Reformed church (Covenant Reformed Church of Grande Prairie) back in 1995. Eager to be connected, Covenant Reformed was initially a daughter church of the Orthodox Reformed Church of Edmonton. The Edmonton church in turn became a charter member of the newly formed United Reformed Churches in North America in the following year, so that the congregation in Grande Prairie was in the URCNA from its inception as a non-dependent congregation.

The Paedocommunion "Problem"

Christ Covenant Church is the fruit of numerous developments over the course of the ensuing years, which span more than a decade. Many of these developments key around the handling of the issue of paedocommunion (the participation of children in the Lord's Supper) in the United Reformed Churches of North America (URCNA).

In late 2000, Tim Gallant became an advocate of paedocommunion after an extensive period of study, ultimately publishing a defense of the practice, Feed My Lambs. Due to a variety of circumstances, this work and other factors led to the paedocommunion position becoming influential within the URCNA congregation in Grande Prairie (Covenant Reformed Church), not least among the leadership. Over the course of the years, virtually the entire council came to be in favour of the practice of paedocommunion.

In the meantime, certain decisions were made regarding the issue at the level of classis (a regional meeting essentially equivalent to a presbytery). These decisions were to the effect that paedocommunion was a confessional issue, and therefore blocked its proponents from holding church office. (In the URCNA, officebearers are required to vow that they heartily believe the Church's confessions to be fully in accord with the Word of God. This is why Tim Gallant never became a candidate for ministry in the URCNA after graduating from seminary.)

In 2004, the URCNA synod (the broadest assembly of the federation) declared that paedocommunion was prohibited by the Three Forms of Unity - the confessions which URCNA officebearers vow to uphold without exception. This decision's import is that no officebearer in the URCNA is allowed to believe in paedocommunion - a decision that ultimately left the Grande Prairie council in a problematic position, even though the church had never practiced paedocommunion. Because the URCNA Church Order does not allow the broader assemblies to depose (remove from church office) officebearers, only three apparent possibilities remained: 1) the entire council change its mind on paedocommunion; 2) the entire council resign and create a leadership vacuum; or 3) the entire congregation would face being set outside the URCNA. Clearly, (1) was not likely; neither was (2) desirable. Nor was (3), since a significant number of congregational members did not share the council's view regarding paedocommunion.

In February 2006, the Grande Prairie council made a very difficult decision. Recognizing, on the one hand, that if things continued as they were, the church would ultimately be pushed out of the URCNA by a process of disfellowship, and on the other, that many members of their own flock were unconvinced by and opposed to paedocommunion, with the result that the impending breach between the Grande Prairie congregation and the URCNA would lead to unnecessary harm, the council decided to attempt to provide a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Pending congregational approval, the council would turn the remaining congregation over to the oversight of the Edmonton URCNA, at which point they themselves would withdraw as a council and continue their course with a new work. This decision would provide pastoral leadership to the whole flock (those who remained in the URCNA would be given oversight by the Edmonton council; those who should choose to depart from the URCNA would remain under the oversight of the Grande Prairie council), and was aimed at making conflict unnecessary. (To read the pastoral letter which the council provided to the Grande Prairie congregation, please click here.)

As can be seen from the above, the council of Covenant Reformed Church, which ultimately became the core of our council here at Christ Covenant, has been eager to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace to the best of our ability. Those of us who were involved in the decision related above wanted to ensure that all the flock given into our charge would be provided with pastoral oversight, whatever position they may have had in connection with the paedocommunion question. In our judgment, an attempt to keep the whole flock together would not have been wise, since many members made it clear that they would not continue with us if we were placed outside of the URCNA. We therefore have committed them into the Lord's care, and with their own permission have arranged for alternative oversight which will be suitable for their own convictions, and, we trust, edifying for them. We do not believe it is necessary for Christ Covenant Church and Covenant Reformed to be in competition with one another; certainly there need be no alienation. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, serving the same Lord, and we trust Him to equip all of us to walk in love and obedience.

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