General Synod News Summary – Part 1

General Synod 2013 met June 20-25 on the campus of Central College in Pella, Iowa, and addressed many aspects of ministry and mission in the RCA.

Strategic Goals:  Delegates overwhelming approved “Transformed and Transforming: Radically Following Christ in Mission Together,”a new goal to guide RCA ministry and mission over the next 15 years. The RCA will focus its efforts on cultivating transformation in Christ, equipping emerging leaders of today and tomorrow, and engaging in Christ’s kingdom mission.

General Synod celebrated the ways God has worked through the RCA during Our Call as the 10-year goal drew to a conclusion. Through video and on-stage interviews,delegates heard leaders throughout the denomination share their experienceswith revitalization, multiplication, leadership, discipleship, mission, and a multiracial future freed from racism.

Synod Business:  In response to the “Way Forward Task Force,”synod voted to appoint a working group to come up with “resources that will encourage grace-filled conversations among those holding varying understandings” with regard to homosexuality; it denied a recommendation to explore constitutional changes that would enable congregations and ministers to separate from the RCA “without recriminations such as forfeiture of property.”

Synod adopted three new liturgies celebrating the sacrament of baptism; the liturgies will go to classes for approval and, if approved, will be ratified at General Synod 2014. Synod also ratified the decision to remove the “conscience clauses” from the BCO.

Cornelis Kors, director of the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency, wasinstalled as a General Synod professor of theology.

Synod approved papers produced by two of its commissions: “Scripture and Moral Discernment”(Christian Unity) and “Constitutionality” (Theology). It also instructed commissions to draft study papers on human sexuality (Theology), violence (Christian Action), and a theological vision for a multiracial and multicultural church (Theology).

The synod voted to fund RCA mission and ministry with a per-member assessment of $49.29 in the coming year, an increase of $1.67 (3.5 percent).

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