Since the General Synod meeting in June of this year, the Consistory has been keeping up to date with the work of the 2020 Team. For those who aren’t able to keep up with the updates on the RCA website, I am including the latest update below:
The Vision 2020 Team met October 28–29, 2019, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, continuing the work that God and the General Synod have called us to do. That work is currently focused on discerning the best way forward out of the three scenarios we’ve been researching, narrowing the options based on intensive dialogue, feedback we’ve heard, and in faithfulness to God.
We’re having good conversation. As we’ve built trust, built relationship, and built friendships, we’re doing our work. It’s very open. Every one of us has had courage to speak, and that courage enriches our work and pushes us further. We’re listening well, and we’re honing in on something.
We have narrowed down our work and reached consensus on a framework to bring to General Synod 2020. As we have listened to God, to each other, and to feedback we’ve received, a possibility is emerging that brings together some of the best elements of the “three scenarios.” This possibility began to germinate at our September meeting, and was refined as we reflected, pinpointed its problems, and identified its strengths.
A crucial moment that shifted our understanding was recognizing the difference between General Synod statements on human sexuality and the functional reality of our structure. This team believes the denomination has existed for a long time with functional diversity. Historically, we have been united around our standards, and because of the way our polity works, functionally the RCA is theologically diverse about a range of topics, including human sexuality, infant baptism, women in church leadership, and others. Our practices vary from classis to classis and congregation to congregation.
Our team’s role is not to define the RCA’s stance on human sexuality or other differences of conviction but to recommend a way forward in light of our functional diversity. So we asked ourselves: in a structure with functional diversity, what are our next faithful steps?
We are now focusing on recommendations that will increase clarity about the RCA’s identity as a denomination that embraces this functional diversity, and that will provide a pathway for a mutually generous exit for those who can’t live within this diversity. We are also exploring recommendations to restructure the denomination to better support a 21st century church.
This represents new clarity for the team, and we celebrate this. We understand there is a high level of complexity involved as we move forward. These are the broad strokes of a plan that is in early stages, and much may change as we continue to move forward. We have formed three sub teams to work on various aspects of this proposal between now and our next meeting in January. At our next meeting, we’ll meet with subject experts to help us craft our recommendations….
Above all, we remember that we are all people of the resurrection. We are God’s beloved children, and God has redeemed us and given us hope for the future. We are grateful for the movement of God’s Spirit among us.
We long for prayer support as we continue to move forward with greater clarity.
The Vision 2020 Team
I find this update very interesting since it leads me to wonder if we will be packing our bags very soon. The Consistory is planning on holding a meeting after the worship service on December 8 to discuss the three scenarios with anyone who might be interested. Copies of the three scenarios are available on the back table in the foyer for those who would like to gain a better understanding of what is being prosed for the future of the RCA.
Grace to you, and peace.