Article 79 — Discipline in respect of non-communicant members
A baptised member shall be admonished by the consistory when he as an adult fails to make public profession of faith or where in other respects he is not loyal to the calling to new obedience in God’s covenant. If he obstinately rejects the admonition of the consistory and thereby clearly demonstrates that he is indifferent and averse to the covenant or is even hostile to the service of the Lord, the matter shall be made known to the congregation without mentioning the name of the sinner; and the congregation shall be urged to pray for him. If the member continues in sin and is unwilling to listen to the admonitions, then with the advice of the classis the consistory shall make a second public announcement, mentioning the name of the sinner and the term after which the excommunication shall take place. If he does not in the said term show any real repentance, the consistory shall in a church service exclude him from the communion of the church, using the adopted Form. If he, after this excommunication, comes to repentance and desires to rejoin the communion of the church, he shall be admitted by way of his public profession of faith after the consistory has made his repentance known to the congregation.
With the exception of newborn babies all members of the congregation are ’baptized members’. Actually this indication is incorrectly used for those who have not yet made profession of faith. The term ‘non-communicant members’, as used in Article 60, is therefore to be preferred.
This article deals only with indifference and aversion to the covenant and hostility to the service of the Lord. No specific sins, either public or secret, are mentioned.
The procedure is as follows:
The consistory has to admonish the person concerned. These admonitions arrive at a certain point at which it is clear that there is indifference and even hostility. Then the consent (= concensus) of Classis is to be obtained, after which an announcement to the congregation is made. In this announcement his/her name is mentioned and a term set. Just as in cases of discipline regarding communicant members (Article 74) the congregation is urged to admonish and pray for him/her. If no repentance is shown within the said
term, excommunication shall take place in a church service, with the use of the adopted Form.
The Church Order does not make mention of a certain age. Not every youngster reaches the age of adulthood at a fixed time!
Re-admission in case of repentance shall take place in the way of making public profession of faith. In the announcement concerned the congregation shall be informed about his/her repentance. And the same joy to which we referred under Article 75 shall be there!