General Synod Celebrates Transformation in the RCA
“Our organizing around mission needs to be more focused around a who than a what,” said John Sherrill during a celebration of the impact of Transformed & Transforming, the RCA’s 15-year vision for ministry and mission. The theme of building relationships ran throughout the evening plenary on Saturday, June 10, which highlighted stories of God at work in the RCA through congregations and leaders.
“At a primary level [our churches] aren’t primarily organized around mission,” said Sherrill, lead pastor of Fifth Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “They do a lot of great stuff in the communities and for mission around the world. But at a fundamental level, we’re not organized around mission.” Sherrill and his wife, Krystal, have made an effort to build relationships with their immediate neighbors.
“This is mission; this is life,” said Krystal. “In order to do that, we need to be ready, be available to invite people into our lives, live as models to seek and pursue people we’re discipling. We’re praying that God will lead people to us.”
A panel of three young leaders was facilitated by Liz Testa, coordinator for Women’s Transformation and Leadership, who hosted the evening. The panel included Ben Aguilera, a church planting pastor in Holland, Michigan; Bianca Williams, a member of DeWitt Reformed Church in New York City; and Stacey Duensing, a recent graduate of Western Theological Seminary and an intern at Church on the Hill in Flushing, New York. The three spoke about their calls to ministry and how the church can reach emerging adults on the margins.
“There is an aspect of our call that is universal and open to the Spirit, open to the unexpected moments of everyday,” said Duensing. “[Young people] fully are part of the kingdom of God right now, growing alongside the rest of us. Give young people leadership opportunities that they can grow into, ones in which they might even fail. … In those spaces that we’re not quite good enough, that’s where the Spirit works.”
Aguilera spoke about the gifts that young people have to offer to the church: “One of the most exciting things for me is the ability to not be theologically lazy. We can really have some deep, difficult conversations about the news and what’s in the world today.
“Young leaders long to lead, and they long to be discipled.”
Ken Neevel, director of development and facilitation for the RCA, announced that the $6.5 million goal for Called: The Campaign for Transformed & Transforming has been surpassed. More than $6.6 million has been raised to resource the ministries of Transformed & Transforming and to build a ministry equipping center to host connection events and learning and leadership communities.
“Thank you to all who joined in that vision, in capturing that vision,” said Neevel.
Four videos were shown, featuring congregations that experienced transformation as they focused on discipleship, leadership, and mission. Watch their stories below.
Worship was led by students in the Hope College worship band, and Williams, who was also in the panel, participated through sacred dance.
Discover equipping opportunities for your church through a digital connection event: www.rca.org/connect.
Learn more about Transformed & Transforming: transform.rca.org.
Highbridge Community Church, Bronx, NY
Grace Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Faith Chapel, Patterson, New Jersey
East Valley Reformed Church, Yakima, Washington