2010 General Synod Summary
Belhar Confession Declared Fourth Doctrinal Standard
The General Synod of the Reformed Church in America officially declared the Belhar Confession the fourth doctrinal standard of the RCA.
General Secretary: RCA Identity in Transition
RCA general secretary Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, in his report to synod, said the most critical challenge facing the Reformed Church in America is making the transition from being a settled denomination to becoming a missional church. While he is encouraged that over 17,500 people worship in 249 new RCA congregations, he noted that the RCA must address the "relationship gap" between traditional RCA congregations and new congregations. Read his entire report; watch the video.
Seawood Calls for "Ministry from the Bottom Up"
Synod president James Seawood called the RCA to engage in "ministry from the bottom up" by practicing a ministry of presence, listening and learning with the ear and heart of Jesus, and acting as the hands and feet of Jesus. Read his entire report; watch the video.
Poest Is New President
Don Poest, pastor of Brunswick Reformed Church in Brunswick, Ohio, is the new president of General Synod. He says an area he will focus on in the coming year is "our emerging discernment of where God would have us focus our personnel and resources after the conclusion of Our Call."
Delegates approved a General Synod Council (GSC) 2011 assessment total of $44.00 per confessing member, which will provide the GSC, the seminaries, and the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency (MFCA) with the same total dollars as in 2010 for carrying out the work of Our Call. Also included in the assessment is $1.50 per member for assistance grants provided to retirees through the Board of Benefits Services (this amount has remained the same since 1971); funding for Disabilities Ministries to replace a donation that launched the ministry; a small amount to review practices about assessments and denominational funding; and discipleship resources and experiences to address white privilege. The synod also approved additional funds for reducing tuition costs for MFCA students, funding an annual gathering of professors of theology, and creating a coordination and collaboration group to address the mandates of care, call, and standards for theological education.
2011 PIM Share and Collection for Global Mission
Synod voted to increase the Partnership-in-Mission (PIM) share for 2011 to $6,100 and to encourage all RCA churches--and particularly the 367 RCA churches that do not support RCA missionaries through PIM shares--to take a collection for Global Mission in 2010. PIM shares fund RCA mission work around the world.
RCA Insurance Holds Premiums below Cost, Offers Incentives for Compliance
Synod supported the Board of Benefits Services' commitment to hold premium increases in 2011 to 5 percent. Group plans across the U.S. are projected to rise 12 to 40 percent. Synod also endorsed the board's commitment to offer an incentive program to reduce the cost of medical insurance premiums beginning in 2011 for churches and ministers who are faithful to the covenant promises of the RCA's Constitution with regard to insurance.
Vander Wal Is New Vice President
Delegates choose Lisa Vander Wal, pastor of Lisha's Kill Reformed Church in Schenectady, New York, as the new vice president of General Synod. Vander Wal previously served for ten years as pastor of the Reformed Church of Canajoharie, New York. She has served on the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency and Reformed Candidates Supervision and Care Certification Committee. She also has served as RCA Commission on Christian Worship moderator; Regional Synod of Albany president; on various General Synod and regional synod task forces and committees; and as Montgomery Classis president. She is the current Schenectady Classis Ministerial Oversight and Candidate Care Committee chair. Vander Wal received a bachelor's degree in psychology and social work from University of Michigan, and a master of divinity from Calvin Theological Seminary through the Theological Education Agency.