Commission on Christian Action

Purpose of the Commission

The Commission on Christian Action informs and advises the church concerning current social issues and the scriptural and Christian principles by which critical evaluation may be exercised on those issues and proper action taken.


Priority Areas

DRONE WARFARE

The RCA’s Commission on Christian Action is a partner in The Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare and the Interfaith Working Group on Drone Warfare—a coalition of faith-based organizations working to raise awareness about the moral concerns and consequences of the U.S. government’s increasing use of drone warfare. The focus is to enable people and institutions of faith to study and take appropriate steps to work for change in U.S. drone warfare policies. Through monthly meetings and educational conferences, the group is making three recommendations to the U.S. government:

  • Study the long-term impacts of drone warfare
  • End the CIA’s authority to carry out drone strikes 
  • Maintain meaningful human control over lethal weapons

Learn more and get involved with the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare

 

MASS INCARCERATION

The United States incarcerates more people than any country in the world. Here are the facts:

  • 2.2 million Americans are incarcerated
  • 2.7 million children have a parent in prison
  • 1 million persons are serving sentences for non-violent crimes
  • 7 million people are under some form of correctional control, such as probation

Communities of color are severely impacted by mass incarceration. Children experiencing the trauma of parental imprisonment suffer shame, guilt, and stigma. Since 2014, the Commission on Christian Action has been diligent in bringing this issue to the forefront of the church.  We encourage you to access CCA reports to General Synod related to mass incarceration in the General Synod section of the RCA website.

 

IMMIGRATION, REFUGEES, AND ASYLUM

By the end of 2017, there were 68.5 million individuals forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations. That was an increase of 2.9 million people over the previous year, and the world’s forcibly displaced population remained at a record high. This includes:

  • 25.4 million refugees—the highest number ever seen
  • 40 million internally displaced people (people displaced in their own countries)
  • 3.1 million asylum seekers

Recently, Northern Triangle Central American (NTCA) countries, which include El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, have experienced a startling escalation in violence attributed to organized criminal groups, locally called maras. These maras have driven homicide rates to the highest levels ever recorded in the region, which in turn has caused people to flee for their lives at a rate that has multiplied tenfold over the last five years. The Commission on Christian Action, along with the RCA, is working on faithful ways to encourage congregations to pray and advocate for refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers.  Find some resources here

 


Eleven Year Retrospective on CCA Recommendations and Actions (2009 to 2019) 

2019 

Although CCA’s report included the topics of Biblical justice CCA on the Road, Weaponized Drones, Just Peace, Creation Care, and the Opioid crisis, no recommendations were made. 

2018 

CA 18-1 To list Shalem Mental Health Network and the International Institute for Restorative Practices on the RCA website as resources for congregations that are interested in learning about restorative justice and/or hosting restorative practices for their communities. (ADOPTED) 

CA 18-2 To urge RCA congregations to access the restorative justice resources listed in this report and to begin discussions in their local faith community about the use of restorative justice in the church and community; and further, To post the restorative justice resources in this report on the RCA website for easy access for congregations. (ADOPTED) 

CA 18-3 To urge congregations, classes, and regional synods to host showings of 30-minute videos and discussion groups provided by the Interfaith Drone Network; and further, To encourage those concerned about drone warfare to construct a quilt to represent those who have died in drone strikes and to use quilts as a point of discussion about drone warfare; and further, To invite concerned RCA members to prepare faith-based op-eds and letters to editors for publications. (ADOPTED) 

CA 18-4 To direct the general secretary to write a letter to the president of the United States condemning the separation of immigrant children from their families and strongly supporting immigration reform and DACA; and further, To urge congregations to encourage their local politicians to enact legislation that supports immigration reform and DACA. (ADOPTED) 

CA 18-5 To direct the general secretary to write a letter to the president of the United States strongly supporting strategies to reduce gun violence; and further, To urge local churches to contact their politicians to advocate for common-sense actions to reduce gun violence. (ADOPTED) 

CA 18-6 To encourage congregations to use “Speaking Christian” as a tool for discussion and reflection, and to ensure that our speech is gracious, seasoned with salt, and respectful of all we encounter. (ADOPTED) 

2017

R 17-39 To urge RCA congregations and members to engage with the refugee crisis in a positive way by: • Reading the general secretary’s statement on the refugee crisis (www.rca.org/news/letter-refugee-crisistom-de-vries) and using the refugee response resources on the RCA website (www.rca.org/refugees). • Praying regularly for the needs of refugees. • Reaching out to RCA missionaries and congregations that actively work with refugees and issues of immigration in order to learn about and support their work. • Financially supporting advocacy and relief for refugees through organizations such as Church World Service or Bethany Christian Services. • Befriending or helping resettle refugees in or near their communities, inasmuch as this is possible. • Observing World Refugee Day this year on Tuesday, June 20. (ADOPTED) 

R 17-40 To direct the General Synod Council to continue to create and make available resources for churches to engage with the refugee issue and the people who are most affected by it; and further, To partner with the Christian Reformed Church in North America as well as our Formula of Agreement partners to resettle refugees, be active in advocacy for immigrants, and to support refugee relief around the world; and further, To publish on the RCA website on a quarterly basis the amount of money raised for refugee work and the plan for investing those resources in efforts to address the global refugee emergency; and further; To report progress to the 2018 General Synod. (ADOPTED) 

2016 

R 16-44 To direct the General Synod Council to remove all statements on the website supporting the use of reorientation/reparative therapy and to declare that the RCA does not support the use of reorientation/reparative therapy but does affirm the power of the Holy Spirit to transform all lives. (ADOPTED) 

R 16-45 To direct the General Synod Council to host a meeting of people interested in the study and work of mass incarceration as the beginning of a learning community. (ADOPTED) 

R 16-46 To encourage the church to use the document “The Church and Criminal Justice: A Brief Exhortation” as a liturgical resource, and further; To direct the General Synod Council to make the document available to the church. (ADOPTED) 

R 16-47 To direct the General Synod Council to add screening language to the RCA’s investment policies, particularly as it relates to for-profit prisons. (ADOPTED) 

2015 

R-35 To direct the coalition of Commission on Christian Action, Commission on Christian Unity, Commission on Race and Ethnicity, and Commission for Women members working on the subject of mass incarceration to submit a report on its work to the General Synod for the next three years. (ADOPTED) 

R-36 To direct the General Synod Council to create a page on the RCA website containing resources, data, and training opportunities related to mass incarceration using information provided by the Commission on Christian Action and/or the coalition of commissions studying mass incarceration. (ADOPTED) 

R-37 To direct the appropriate Transformed & Transforming initiative to seek out churches and individuals already engaged in learning and advocacy around mass incarceration and to create learning communities and/or advocacy groups around specific issues related to mass incarceration, e.g., children of incarcerated parents, women in prison, reentry following imprisonment, prison reform for the aged, juvenile justice, or family visitation. (ADOPTED) 

2014 

R-38 To work with Christian Churches Together to take an active role in developing guiding principles for the church related to issues of mass incarceration. (ADOPTED) 

R-39 To work together with Formula of Agreement partners and CCT faith families to educate, advocate, and take direct action related to prison reform and mandatory sentencing reform. (ADOPTED)

R-40 To form a coalition among the Commissions on Christian Action, Christian Unity, and Race and Ethnicity, and any other commission interested in participating, to engage in a deeper study of the issue of mass incarceration and to develop a collaborative response to present to General Synod 2015. (ADOPTED)

R-41 To urge RCA congregations to initiate conversations about how faith communities can work toward healing fatherless generations, understanding that fatherlessness is a critical consequence of mass incarceration. (ADOPTED) 

R-43 To direct the General Synod Council to examine RCA investments to ascertain whether the RCA has any investments in private prison corporations. (ADOPTED) 

R-45 To direct the Commission on Christian Action, in consultation with the Commission on Theology, to develop a paper on God, justice and compassion for those who are incarcerated, victims of incarceration, families of the incarcerated, and returned citizens that addresses the church’s role in being the beloved community of God. (ADOPTED) 

R-46 To encourage New Brunswick Theological Seminary and Western Theological Seminary to continue to actively develop curriculum that trains future graduates in the realities and practicalities of social justice issues in general and mass incarceration in particular, grounded in a Christian response. (ADOPTED) 

R-47 To direct the Commission on Christian Action to develop a resource list of books, articles, documentaries, training, workbooks, and resource people that can be utilized to raise the level of awareness and educate congregations about the issue of mass incarceration. (ADOPTED) 

2013 

R-62 To encourage RCA congregations and institutions to teach, practice, and model nonviolence both for their own members and in service to their communities; and further, to encourage congregations to include in their peace and justice ministries efforts that address structural, institutional violence and economic injustice. (ADOPTED) 

R-63 To post the Christian Churches Together “Statement on immigration reform” on the RCA website. (ADOPTED) 

R-64 To encourage congregations of the RCA to engage in a letter writing campaign and other advocacy efforts in getting Dream act legislation passed on the federal and state levels. (ADOPTED) 

2012 

R-38 To direct the General Synod Council to establish and maintain a webpage dedicated to social justice, including links to advocacy partners and organizations, tools, and informative sources. (ADOPTED) 

R-39 To direct the General Synod Council to include a page in each issue of RCA Today magazine dedicated to the works of social justice and social witness advocacy. (ADOPTED) 

R-40 To direct the General Synod Council to develop and implement a long-term funding strategy to hire a staff person for the purpose of developing and maintaining a Social Justice Advocacy Network engaging RCA individuals and congregations. (VOTED NOT TO ADOPT) 

R-41 To direct the General Synod Council to develop an RCA online social witness and social justice advocacy process or a joint online advocacy process in partnership with social advocacy ministries of Formula of Agreement partners. (VOTED NOT TO ADOPT) 

R-42 To call upon regional synods, classes, and congregations to assist the General Synod Council in facilitating a social witness and social justice advocacy network. (ADOPTED) 

2011 

R-59 To refer P-2 to the Commission on Christian Action with a progress report to General Synod 2011. (ADOPTED) 

2010 

R-74 To direct the General Synod Council to make the paper “The Medical, Psychological, and Spiritual Health of Persons Who Are Adopted” available on the RCA website and to disseminate the information via the monthly resource mailing; and further, to encourage congregations to use the paper to inform and inspire RCA members with regard to how they can speak out publicly on the benefits that would permit an adopted person, or the adoptive parent or guardian of a minor who was adopted, access to a copy of the adopted person’s original birth certificate and related medical and cultural information, upon request. (ADOPTED) 

R-75 To direct the Board of Benefits Services to do a continue its financial assessment on the cost of various levels of insurance for RCA participants including investigating the viability of a less comprehensive coverage plan that would meet basic health care needs, and present a report with supporting data to General Synod 2011. (ADOPTED) 

R-76 To direct the Board of Benefits Services to explore potential partnerships with other forms of health care plans as an avenue to improving health care value; and further, to make available the paper “Witnessing to the Incarnation of a Covenant of Compassion the Church and the U.S. Health Care System.” (ADOPTED) 

R-77 That the members of the 2010 General Synod stand and join in prayer together for the people of North Korea and especially their refugee population; and further, to direct the General Synod Council to make this status report, “Pray for North Korean Refugees,” available on the RCA website and to disseminate the information via the monthly resources mailing; and further, to encourage congregations and classes to continue to lift up all refugees in their prayers, and especially our North Korean sisters and brothers. (ADOPTED) 

2009 

R-53 To direct the General Synod Council to make the Christian Churches Together poverty objectives a priority; and further, to widely share the Christian Churches Together Statement on Poverty and subsequent principles and ideas with congregations and encourage congregations to take active steps in confronting poverty in the community. (ADOPTED) 

R-54 To affirm the value of continued dialogue and discernment on the topic of homosexuality within the church, to state that our dialogical and discerning work is not done, and that legislative and judicial steps are not a preferred course of action at this time; and further, recognizing the appropriate authority of assemblies, to encourage assemblies, when possible, to refrain from disciplinary proceedings as a way of dealing with minority viewpoints on this controversial issue, to be monitored by the GSC, for report to the 2011 General Synod; and further, to recommend that officeholders and ministers avoid actions in violation of the policies of the earlier statements of General Synod on ordination and relevant state laws on marriage, with sensitivity to the pastoral needs of all involved. (ADOPTED AS AMENDED)