Holland, Michigan — The governing body that makes decisions for many churches in northwest Iowa has wrapped up their annual meeting at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. And that denomination may look different in the future.
The Reformed Church in America’s — or RCA’s — General Synod is one step closer to making a decision about what to do about the continued division in the church. At last year’s General Synod meeting, a team was formed to prayerfully explore different scenarios for the future of the RCA.
Church officials tell us that after a year of prayer, research, and developing emotional maturity, the team, called the “Vision 2020 Team,” brought three scenarios to the General Synod for delegates’ consideration and feedback: staying together, radical reorganization, and grace-filled separation. Throughout the process, the team has emphasized that at least as important as what the RCA decides is how the denomination decides it.
One of the consultants who have been working with the team, Trisha Taylor explained the idea of being “defined and connected” as holding your convictions tightly in one fist while reaching out with your other hand to shake someone’s hand. She encouraged synod delegates to act with a similar spirit as they engaged the scenarios and their fellow delegates.
The team will continue to gather feedback and prepare a final proposal for General Synod 2020. The scenarios the team proposed are starting points for discussion; they may shift over the coming year. In order to collect feedback, the team is inviting RCA churches to facilitate discussion groups like the ones that took place at Synod.
In a lengthy evening discussion and vote, delegates approved a change to the Book of Church Order that would require approval from a simple majority of classes—rather than the current two-thirds majority required—for proposals related to the work of the Vision 2020 Team. Officials tell us that since this is a Book of Church Order change, it requires approval from two-thirds of classes and ratification at next year’s synod before taking effect.
Also, beginning in January 2021, churches will begin contributing a percentage of their income to support denominational ministries and operations, rather than a per-member assessment.