Tom De Vries offers some parting thoughts on unity and the gospel in his final column as general secretary.
By Tom De Vries
As Reformed Christians, our theology is Christ centered, we believe that God speaks to us through his Word, grace is central to our faith, and we do all for the glory of God. This is our identity, and it influences how we worship, how we gather as the church, and how we engage in mission.
As I transition from my role as general secretary of the RCA to serve the Willow Creek Association as president and CEO, I will continue in the way of the Reformed faith. It is a part of who I am. Even as I leave my current role, I will retain my ordination as a minister of Word and sacrament in the RCA, and I will live out our shared vision, Transformed & Transforming, in my new context.
As I take these next steps, my prayer and my hope for us as a denomination is that we would:
- Continue to live and love like Jesus—in the world, in our churches, and in our life as a denomination.
- See more and more stories of transformation both individually and communally.
- Recognize that a church divided was not Jesus’ prayer for the church (John 17) and is not a testimony to the unifying gospel of Jesus Christ in our world.
- Keep the commitments of discipleship, leadership, and mission central to our shared life.
The work of God through Transformed & Transforming is at the heart of what we are called to be as the RCA. Do not allow external forces—post-denominationalism, human sexuality, personal agendas and preferences, the polarization of grace and truth—to keep us from living in obedience to God and in alignment with the Spirit’s leading for us together. Turbulent times allow us to exercise greater trust in God, the one who is in control.
I close with a prayer from the RCA’s communion liturgy, which I pray as we move forward together:
Look upon thy Church in its struggle on the earth. Have mercy on its weaknesses, bring to an end its unhappy divisions, scatter its fears, increase its courage, strengthen its faith, and inspire its witness to the people even to the end of the earth.
Tom De Vries is general secretary of the Reformed Church in America until June 15, 2017.