As we are in the season when so many of our various Presbyterian denominations meet in annual Assembly, this short note defining “fraternal relations” and “corresponding relations” between denominations may be a helpful reminder. This comes from the Minutes of the Twenty-eighth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (2000), page 63:
28-14 [from the] Committee of Commissioners on Interchurch Relations
Item 3. That the General Assembly establish two levels of relations with other denominations: Adopted
Fraternal Relations – The General Assembly may maintain a fraternal relationship with other Presbyterian/Reformed denominations that are voting members of the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council and with other such Churches with whom the General Assembly wishes to establish fraternal relations unilaterally. This would involve the exchange of fraternal delegates, exchange of General Assembly or General Synod minutes, communications on matters of mutual concern, and other matters that may arise from time to time.
Corresponding Relations – The General Assembly may maintain corresponding relation with other evangelical Churches in North America and in other continents for exchanging greetings and letters of encouragement. This may include the exchange of official observers at the broadest assemblies, and communications on issues of common concern.
Words to Live By:
Pray for the unity of the Church. That unity must be based upon a clear understanding and affirmation of what the Scriptures teach. And thus we have these two categories of fraternal and corresponding relations. The one is a closer fellowship than the other, where we have a closer similarity of convictions as to what the Scriptures teach and require. The second group is a bit more distant, but still recognizes our common standing in Christ. Someone one said, “Are you a Presbyterian? Then be the best Presbyterian that you can be. Or are you a Lutheran? Then be the best that you can be.” Divisions will persist among Christians as long as we are in this sinful flesh. But as we ever seek to remain faithful to our Lord and Savior, obedient to His Word, some of those divisions may well be healed, while others become less threatening, more manageable. In all things, may God be glorified.