Iglesia Reformada Dominicana, a fledgling denomination begun in the Dominican Republic 12 years ago, has been enfolded into Classis de las Naciones (Classis of the Nations) for the next two years.
In 2009, la Iglesia Reformada Dominicana (the Dominican Reformed Church) was officially organized as a new denomination that had “been born out of a close partnership with the Reformed Church in America. The Iglesia Reformada Dominicana deeply values Reformed theology and polity, and their churches will have an important impact for the gospel in the Dominican Republic” (Minutes of General Synod 2009, p. 42).
“The Hispanic Council—in cooperation with Global Mission, the Synods of New York and the Mid-Atlantics, the general secretary, the Office of the General Synod, and church leaders in the Dominican Republic” worked out a covenant agreement between the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America and the General Synod of la Iglesia Reformada Dominicana (IRD) (MGS 2009, p. 80). A Dominican flag was presented to RCA leaders, and the covenant agreement was signed at the RCA’s General Synod. Promises were made for mutual support, training, equipping, prayer, and establishing congregations and ministries throughout the Dominican Republic.
For a few years, this work took root, and updates were reported in the Minutes of General Synod. For a number of years after that, there were no updates. In 2019, an RCA delegation visited IRD leaders in the Dominican Republic and revived the partnership. A group from RCA Global Mission, RCA Church Multiplication, and the Hispanic Council, along with the general secretary, met in the Dominican Republic to worship together, pray, and seek mutual ministry opportunities with pastors and churches in the IRD.
In July and early August 2021, a delegation from RCA Global Mission and Classis de las Naciones traveled to the Dominican Republic to visit churches, meet with IRD leaders, and provide training. That trip led to an agreement between the IRD executive team and Classis de las Naciones: the IRD would join Classis de las Naciones for two years; the classis will provide additional support and training in the spirit of the covenant agreement. In two years, the IRD will launch as an “independent, self-sustaining, and multiplying full RCA classis,” says Chad Farrand, Classis de las Naciones executive.
Classis de las Naciones is the RCA’s newest classis, or regional governing body, organized in June 2020. Its churches are located primarily in Florida and Georgia, and include many congregations and pastors with roots in Central and South America. The classis has a vision for international church planting.
The partnership of the IRD and Classis de las Naciones is supported by the Regional Synod of Mid-America and has been in consultation with Global Mission, Church Multiplication, and experts in RCA church order.
“It’s part of the dream that many of us as Latinos leaders of the RCA anticipated, to be able to sit with the American leadership at the same table, for preaching the gospel to all the nations,” says Brigido Cabrera. Cabrera is an RCA minister who lives in the Dominican Republic and trains church planters in the IRD.
In August, the IRD was awarded a capacity grant from the Reformed Church in America, through the work of the Church Multiplication Review Team. The grant provides 12 months of coaching, training, and educational support in theology and financial sustainability so the seven IRD pastors involved will be ready to organize their congregations in a newly developed RCA classis in 2023.
“It’s all about timing,” says Farrand. “Three years ago, there were four RCA congregations left in Florida. They were mostly Anglo congregations made up of many former snowbirds from the north. Today, we have 15 strong congregations made up of people from all over the world that are all aligned with one common mission and vision to ‘make disciples who make disciples.’”
This mission and vision has expanded to places outside of North America, including the IRD, who are excited to partner with the RCA more deeply.
“A new day has dawned on the RCA,” says Randy Weener, the RCA’s director of Church Multiplication. “The picture of nations, tribes, peoples, and languages gathering around the throne in Revelation 7 is becoming our current reality. The IRD represents the first fruits of new disciples from the south being blended into our family, and it is yielding mutual blessings.”
The RCA’s work of starting and organizing new churches used to focus exclusively in North America, but now the denomination is leaning into mutual church planting and ministry, collaborating with established agencies and mission partners, to create flourishing Reformed churches around the globe and bringing beautiful Revelations 7:9 diversity to the historic denomination. RCA Global Mission and RCA Church Multiplication are working with local mission partners to start new churches around the world—in Brazil, Kenya, Nepal, Korea, Thailand, Hungary, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere.