General Synod 2017: Recommendations

The following is a list of recommendations as presented in the General Synod workbook. Unofficial updates on the actions of synod will be placed here during the meeting. Please note that these actions should not be considered official until the Minutes are posted later in the summer.

** Amendments and substitutes made at synod are not included below.

Longer recommendations are shortened here (indicated by "..."). For full recommendations, please consult the workbook.

Recommendations to General Synod 2017

R 17-1 - Approved

To approve the agenda and schedule of the General Synod as presented in the General Synod Workbook.

R 17-2 - Approved

To declare Amendment 4 to be approved for incorporation into the 2017 Book of Church Order.

R 17-3 - Approved

To declare Amendment 5 to be approved for incorporation into the 2017 Book of Church Order.

R 17-4 - Approved

To declare Amendment 6 to be approved for incorporation into the 2017 Book of Church Order.

R 17-5 - Approved

To declare Amendment 7 to be approved for incorporation into the 2017 Book of Church Order.

R 17-6 - Approved

To declare Amendment 8 to the Bylaws of the General Synod adopted by the 2016 General Synod to be approved for incorporation into the 2017 Bylaws of the General Synod.

R 17-7 - Approved

To declare Amendment 9 to the Bylaws of the General Synod adopted by the 2016 General Synod to be approved for incorporation into the 2017 Bylaws of the General Synod.

R 17-8 - Approved

To declare Amendment 10 to the Bylaws of the General Synod adopted by the 2016 General Synod to be approved for incorporation into the 2017 Bylaws of the General Synod.

R 17-9 - Approved

To appoint Jillisa Teitsma as treasurer of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America.

R 17-10 - Approved

To appoint Paul Boice assistant secretary of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America.

R 17-11 - Approved

To approve the General Synod Council 2018 assessment of $45.64 per confessing member.

R 17-12 - Approved

To approve the assessment of $2.00 per confessing member for the Board of Benefits Services to provide assistance funding for retired pastors who have a demonstrated need.

R 17-13 - Approved

To approve the assessment of $5.97 per confessing member for theological education.

R 17-14 - Approved

To encourage classes and regional synods to form diaconal conferences in all the assemblies of the church, for the purposes of collaboration, education, and encouragement of deacons and diaconal ministries; and further,

to instruct the general secretary to help facilitate the creation of at least one such diaconal conference utilizing Transformed & Transforming funding.

R 17-15 (referred)

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined; deletions are stricken):

Chapter 1, Part II

Article 1. Classis Defined

   The classis is an assembly and judicatory consisting of all the enrolled ministers of that body and the elder and deacon delegates who represent all the local and organizing churches within its bounds. The classis is a permanent, continuing body which functions between stated sessions through committees. Voting rights shall be limited to elder and deacon delegates and those enrolled ministers who are actively serving as ministers either under the jurisdiction of or with the approval of the classis.

Article 3. Elder and Deacon Delegates

   Sec. 1.

a. A church shall not have more than four elder delegates. A church with three hundred or fewer confessing members shall have one elder delegate. A church with more than three hundred confessing members shall also have one elder delegate for each additional three hundred confessing members or fraction thereof, up to a maximum of three additional delegates.

b. A church without an installed minister shall have an elder delegate who shall not be counted as one of the above delegates allotted in subsection (a).

c. A collegiate church shall have at least one elder delegate for each of its constituent congregations.

   Sec. 2. The congregation in a multiple parish may take turns in sending to classis one or more additional elder delegates so that the number of minister and elder or deacon delegates from the multiple parish is at least twice the number of such congregations.

   Sec. 3. The elder or deacon delegate to classis shall be chosen from the entire body of elders and deacons in a church, whether or not presently a member of the board of eldersconsistory.

   Sec. 4. The elder or deacon delegate shall be a member of classis from the date of election or appointment and shall continue in that responsibility to classis until the effective date of election or appointment of a successor. If, however, confessing membership in the church represented shall be terminated during the period of appointment, the delegate shall cease to be a member of classis.

Article 4. Sessions of Classis

   Sec. 1. Stated sessions of classis shall be held at least annually at such times as the classis may determine. All classis sessions shall begin and end with prayer. There shall be a sermon preached, or a devotional service, or both, at each stated session. The presence of (a) a majority of elder and deacon delegates and commissioned pastors, and (b) a majority of those ministers who are actively serving in ministries under the jurisdiction of the classis is required.

   Sec. 2. The president of classis shall call a special session of classis whenever special business requires it or upon the written request of two ministers and two elder delegates. At least ten days’ notice of any special session shall be given to all the ministers and elder delegates of the classis. The notice shall state the purpose of the special session. The presence of three ministers and three elder delegates shall constitute a quorum to transact the business stated in the notice of such special session.

Article 7. Superintendence of the Local and Organizing Churches

   Sec. 1. The classis shall annually engage the ministers and elder delegates in a review of the ministry of the separate congregations by addressing the following questions. …

Chapter 1, Part III

Article 1. Regional Synod Defined

   Sec. 1. The regional synod is an assembly and judicatory consisting of ministers and elders or deacons delegated by each of the classes within the bounds determined for it by the General Synod. Voting rights shall be limited to elder and deacon delegates and those minister delegates who are actively serving under the jurisdiction or with the approval of the classis.

Article 3. Delegates

   Sec. 2. The elder or deacon delegate to regional synod shall be chosen from the entire body of elders in a church installed consistory or great consistory whether or not presently engaged as a member of the board of elders.

Article 4. Sessions of Regional Synod

   Sec. 2. The president of the regional synod shall call a special session of the synod upon receipt of a written request of one minister and one elder or deacon delegate from each of the classes within its bounds. At least three weeks’ notice of the meeting shall be given, such notice stating the purpose of the meeting.

   Sec. 3. The presence of a majority of the minister delegates and a majority of the elder and deacon delegates is required to constitute a quorum at any session of a regional synod.

Chapter 1, Part IV

Article 1. General Synod Defined

The General Synod is the highest assembly and judicatory of the Reformed Church in America. It consists of two minister delegates and two elder or deacon delegates from each of the classes having four thousand or fewer confessing members on the roll of its churches, and one minister delegate and one elder or deacon delegate for each two thousand confessing members, or fraction thereof, from each of the classes having more than four thousand confessing members on the roll of its churches as computed in accordance with the Bylaws of the General Synod; one elder, deacon, or minister delegate from each of the regional synods; five General Synod professor delegates, drawn from each of the theological seminaries of the Reformed Church and the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency; a number of furloughing missionary and chaplain delegates; and corresponding delegates provided for in the Bylaws of the General Synod. Voting rights shall be limited to to elder and deacon delegates and those minister delegates who are actively serving in ministries under the jurisdiction or with the approval of an assembly. The General Synod is a permanent, continuing body which functions between stated sessions through the General Synod Council, commissions, and agencies.

Article 3. Delegates           

   Sec. 2. The elder or deacon delegate to the General Synod, or the elder or deacon who serves on committees, commissions, or boards of the General Synod, shall be chosen from the entire body of elders and deacons in a church, whether or not presently engaged as a member of the board of eldersconsistory.

Article 4. Sessions and Meetings of General Synod

   Sec. 2. The president of the General Synod shall call a special session of the synod at a place determined by the president, vice president and the general secretary of the synod upon the joint application of three ministers and three elders or deacons from each of the regional synods, all of them serving currently as accredited delegates to the General Synod. Three weeks’ notice of the session shall be given to the members of the synod, such notice to state the purpose of the session.

   Sec. 3. The presence of a majority of the minister delegates and a majority of the elder and deacon delegates is required to constitute a quorum at any meeting of the General Synod.

Chapter 3, Part I, Article 3

   Sec. 2. Composition

a.   One-half of the membership of the General Synod Council (GSC) shall be elders and deacons and one-half shall be ministers and not less than one-third of the membership shall be women. The Commission on Nominations shall assure the composition of the council reflects the full diversity of the church.

R 17-16 - Approved

To adopt the following resolution:

These have loved Christ and fed his sheep. They have devoted themselves to spreading the Word and equipping the saints for the work of ministry.

Their contribution to a needy world is rich beyond measure; their record is on high.

The Reformed Church in America, with admiration, deep affection, and overflowing thanks to God, celebrates their lifelong service.

Lynn Allhusen
Rochester, New York

Robert Anderson
Concord, New Hampshire

Thomas Bartha
East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Ned Beadel
Fullerton, California

Roc Bottomly
Edmond, Oklahoma

Kenneth Bradsell
Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Norman Chen
Monroe, New Jersey

Grover Davis
Lockport, Illinois

Perry De Groot
Spencer, Iowa

Donald De Kok
Alton, Iowa

James DeVries
Kendall Park, New Jersey

Gary De Witt
Miami, Florida

William De Young
Belle Mead, New Jersey

John Eichenberger
Geneva, New York

Robert Hann
North Chili, New York

Stephen Hanson
Whiting, New Jersey

Donald Hoaglander
Ilion, New York

John Kapteyn
London, Ontario

Diane Konynenbelt
Hudsonville, Michigan

Harry Koops
Hudsonville, Michigan

Linda Lachesnez-Norment
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Harold Lay
Brick, New Jersey

Louis Lotz
Hudsonville, Michigan

Terry Maassen
Lincoln, Nebraska

Lonzy McCarey
Newark, New Jersey

Deborah McCreary
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Marlin Meendering
Eden Prairie, Minnesota

John Ornee
Zeeland, Michigan

Luis Perez
Winter Garden, Florida

Roger Peterson
Tulare, California

Richard Plass
Madison, Indiana

Donald Poest
Brunswick, Ohio

Keith Poppen
El Dorado Hills, California

Roger Punt
Woodbury, Minnesota

Allan Ramirez
Hialeah, Florida

Paul Rosa
Bethel, Delaware

Kenneth Ruge
Scarsdale, New York

David Schutt
Pleasant Hill, Iowa

Steven Slater
Kalamazoo, Michigan

Thomas Stewart
Stillwater, Oklahoma

H. Arlan TenClay
Hudsonville, Michigan

Raymond Tilstra
DeKalb, Illinois

Marjorie Vander Wagen
Downers Grove, Illinois

Darwin Vander Wal
Kalamazoo, Michigan

Peter Van Dyke
Canyon Lake, California

Robert VanHofwegen
Modesto, California

Wayne Van Kampen
Denver, Colorado

Katie Van Veldhuizen
New River, Arizona

Paul Walther
Brielle, New Jersey

Donald Waterhouse
Highland Grove, Ontario

Robert Williams
Cleveland, Tennessee

Joseph Wojnarowski
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Joseph Woods
Spotswood, New Jersey

Kenneth Zorgdrager
Gulf Shores, Alabama

R 17-17 - Approved

To set the value of a Partnership-in-Mission (PIM) share for 2018 at $6,700.

R 17-18 - Approved

Whereas the Rev. Jhonny Alicea-Báez has retired from the RCA Global Mission staff after more than 15 years of service, first as supervisor of Latin America and then as director of Global Mission; and

Whereas the Rev. Ken and Marcia Bradsell have retired from their service with the Protestant Church in Oman, following Ken’s years of service on the General Synod Council and Board of Benefits Services staff; and

Whereas the Rev. Dr. Duncan Hanson has retired from the RCA Global Mission staff after more than 15 years supervising RCA Global Mission personnel and projects in Europe, the Middle East, and India; and

Whereas the Rev. Tom and Liz Stewart have retired from the mission field after more than 35 years of ministering to international students at Oklahoma State University; and

Whereas the Rev. Marlin Vis has retired from the mission field after 12 years of leading educational tours in Israel and Palestine with his wife, Sally;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 211th session of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, meeting June 8 through 13, 2017, on the campus of Hope College in Holland, Michigan, gives glory to God for the life and witness of Rev. Jhonny Alicea-Báez, Rev. Ken and Marcia Bradsell, Rev. Dr. Duncan Hanson, Rev. Tom and Liz Stewart, and Rev. Marlin Vis, and offers a prayer of thanksgiving for their service to RCA Global Mission.

R 17-19 - Approved

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-crisis-tom-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.

R 17-20 - Approved

To direct the General Synod Council to continue to create and make available resources for churches to engage with this 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.

R 17-21 - Approved as amended

To adopt the following changes to the Book of Church Order for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined; deletions are stricken):

Chapter 1, Part I

Article 1. Definitions

   Sec. 1. A consistory is the governing body of a local church. Its members are the installed minister/s of that church serving under a call, and the elders and deacons currently installed in office, and commissioned pastors authorized by the classis. (See Chapter 1, Part II, Article 17, Section 8.) A consistory is a permanent, continuing body which functions between stated sessions through committees. An organizing church has a classis-appointed governing body that functions similarly to both a consistory and a board of elders.

   Sec 8. … Elders, together with the installed minister/s serving under a call and/or commissioned pastor/s (if any), are to have supervision of the church entrusted to them. … Elders exercise an oversight over the conduct of one another, and of the deacons, and of the minister/s. They make certain that what is preached and taught by the minister/s is in accord with the Holy Scripture. They assist the minister/s with their good counsel and in the task of visitation.

Article 2. Responsibilities of the Consistory

   Sec. 9. A consistory or its minister may request the classis to terminate the minister’s relationship to that church. (See Chapter 1, Part II, Article 15, Section 8.) A consistory or its commissioned pastor may request the classis to terminate the commissioned pastor’s commissioning to that church.

   Sec. 11.

e.   Ordinarily, the preaching of the Word shall be performed by a Minister of Word and Sacrament, a commissioned pastor under contract with the congregation, a preaching elder under contract with the congregation, or a candidate for ministry appointed pursuant to Chapter 1, Part II, Article 7, Section 7.

  1. A consistory or a governing body may issue an invitation to preach to a minister of another denomination whose character and standard is known.
  2. A consistory or governing body may determine whether to issue an invitation to preach to a minister whose character and standard is not known to them once that minister has first furnished the consistory or governing body with written evidence of recent date of that minister’s good ministerial standing and the minister’s authorization to preach the Word.
  3. A consistory or a governing body may authorize, in occasional or special circumstances, other persons to preach.

   Sec. 11.

e.   The consistory of a church may invite or permit ministers of other denominations whose character and standard are known to preach for them. Ministers of other denominations or their counterparts whose character and standard are not known shall not be engaged to preach in a local church until they have furnished to the consistory written evidence of recent date of their good ministerial standing and of their authorization to preach the Word. The consistory shall then determine whether to issue an invitation to preach. Ordinarily, the preaching of the Word shall be performed by an ordained minister or a theological student appointed pursuant to the Government of the Reformed Church in America, Chapter 1, Part II, Article 7, Section 7. In special circumstances, an elder commissioned by the classis as a preaching elder may preach. However, a consistory may authorize, in occasional or special circumstances, other persons to preach.

Chapter 1, Part II

Article 1. Classis Defined

   The classis is an assembly and judicatory consisting of all the enrolled ministers of that body, commissioned pastors serving under a commission approved by the classis, and the elder delegates who represent all the local and organizing churches within its bounds. The classis is a permanent, continuing body which functions between stated sessions through committees. Voting rights shall be limited to elder delegates, and those enrolled ministers who are actively serving as ministers either under the jurisdiction of or with the approval of the classis, and commissioned pastors serving under a commission approved by the classis.

Article 2. Responsibilities of the Classis

   Sec. 2. The classis shall exercise a general superintendence over its enrolled ministers, its commissioned pastors, and over the interests and concerns of the congregations within its bounds, and shall enforce the requirements of the Government of the Reformed Church in America.

   Sec. 8. The classis shall examine candidates for ministry throughout their training process and prior to granting a certificate of licensure. students of theology for licensure, and licensed candidates for the ministry for ordination. The classis shall examine candidates for commissioned pastor throughout their training process and/or prior to commissioning.

   Sec. 10. The classis shall approve and disapprove calls and contracts, and effect and dissolve the relationship between ministers and churches or congregations. The classis shall approve and disapprove contracts, and effect and dissolve the relationship between commissioned pastors and churches or congregations.

Article 4. Sessions of Classis

   Sec. 1. Stated sessions of classis shall be held at least annually at such times as the classis may determine. All classis sessions shall begin and end with prayer. There shall be a sermon preached, or a devotional service, or both, at each stated session. The presence of (a) a majority of elder delegates and commissioned pastors, and (b) a majority of commissioned pastors and those ministers who are actively serving in ministries under the jurisdiction of the classis is required.

   Sec. 2. The president of classis shall call a special session of classis whenever special business requires it or upon the written request of two ministers classis members and two elder delegates. At least ten days’ notice of any special session shall be given to all the ministers members and elder delegates of the classis. The notice shall state the purpose of the special session. The presence of three ministers classis members and three elder delegates shall constitute a quorum to transact the business stated in the notice of such special session.

Article 6. Transaction of Business

   Sec. 4. Except as otherwise provided in the Book of Church Order, a members of a classis committees, commissions, or boards shall be a member of the classis or a confessing members of one of its the churches or congregations in the classis.

Article 7. Superintendence of the Local and Organizing Churches

   Sec. 1. The classis shall annually engage the ministers its members and elder delegates in a review of the ministry of the separate congregations by addressing the following questions. The answers shall be entered in the minutes of classis for the information of the synods:

m.  Does the consistory or governing body regularly engage its minister/s and/or commissioned pastor/s in a mutual reflection on the ministerial needs and challenges of the congregation?

n.   Do the salary, housing, arrangements for professional development, and all other benefits received by the minister/s and/or commissioned pastor/s meet the terms of the original call or contract, subsequent revisions thereof, and the minimum standards of the classis?

Article 15. Supervision of Ministers of Word and Sacrament

   Sec. 12. The classis shall keep a record book in which the declarations for licensed candidates, commissioned pastors, and ministers are clearly written. Those who are received on examination or on certificate shall subscribe to the proper declaration in the presence of the classis.

Article 17. Commissioning and Supervision of Commissioned Pastors

   Sec. 1. A commissioned pastor is an elder who is trained, commissioned, and supervised by a classis for a specific ministry within that classis and under the auspices of a local church or congregation that will include the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the sacraments. The commission shall be valid for the period of assigned service. 

   Sec. 2. Preparation for Commissioning

a.   A consistory or governing body may recommend a confessing member of a Reformed church to the classis as a candidate to become a commissioned pastor.

b.   Sec. 3. Upon acceptance of the consistory’s application on behalf of a candidate, the classis shall approve and supervise a training plan for that person. The classis shall satisfy itself that the candidate exhibits ministry competence in 1) maturity of faith, 2) personal integrity, 3) understanding of the Old and New Testaments and biblical interpretation, 4) Reformed theology, 5) church history, 6) knowledge of and adherence to the Constitution of the Reformed Church in America (the Government, the Standards, and the Liturgy), 7) nature and administration of the sacraments, 8) ability to preach, 9) capability to minister within the church, and 10) understanding of and adherence to pastoral ethics and practices.

c.   Sec. 4. In satisfying itself concerning a candidate’s ministry competence, the classis shall employ criteria established by the General Synod Council.

   Sec. 3. Confirming an Invitation to Ministry

a.   Sec. 5. Upon satisfaction by the classis of the candidate’s ministerial competence, the classis shall identify confirm the specific form of commissioned service appropriate to the gifts and training of the candidate. When the classis receives an invitation for a ministry from one of its local churches or congregations it deems appropriate for the candidate, and upon the candidate’s acceptance of this invitation to ministry, the classis shall 1) authorize the ministry, 2) approve a contract, and 3) commission the candidate to the authorized ministry to the extent of the contract. A church or congregation shall not enter into a contract with a commissioned pastor except by the approval of the classis.

b.   Sec. 6. After a classis approves a candidate for commission to an authorized ministry, the classis shall appoint a time and place for a commissioning service at a regular or special classis session. The service shall utilize a liturgy approved by the General Synod. The commissioned pastor shall read aloud and sign the Declaration for Commissioned Pastors (Appendix, Formulary No. 16) shall be made orally by the candidate in the presence of the classis as part of that order for commissioning. (See Chapter 1, Part II, Article 15, Section 12.)

c.   Sec. 7. The classis shall assign a mentor for each commissioned pastor for the period of training and ministry.

Sec. 4. The Commissioned Pastor

a.   Sec. 8. The commissioned pastor shall be authorized to preach the Word and celebrate the sacraments. The classis may authorize the commissioned pastor to any or all of the following functions:

1.   a. Serve as presiding officer of the consistory at its request and may be appointed supervisor of that consistory.

2.   b. Preside at the ordination and installation of elders and deacons.

3.   c. Perform a service of Christian marriage when approved by consistory and subject to state and provincial law.

b.   Sec. 9. The commissioned pastor shall be a member of classis during the period of commissioned service, butand shall not serve as an elder delegate to the classis from a local church. A commissioned pastor may serve as an elder delegate to a regional and/or General Synod.

c.   Sec. 10. The classis shall evaluate the performance of the commissioned pastor at least annually.

d.   Sec. 11. Upon completion of the authorized ministry by a commissioned pastor, the classis shall provide to that person a written statement of the training received and the ministry that was performed.

e.   Sec. 12. The commissioned pastor shall remain a member of a local church, but is amenable solely to the discipline of the classis as set forth in Chapter 2, Part I, Article 3 of the Book of Church Order, for the period of commissioned service.

f.    The classis in which a commissioned pastor’s membership is held is the only classis to which the commissioned pastor is amenable.

g.   Sec. 13. Upon request of the regional synod, tThe classis shall submit to an annual review upon request of regional synod of the processes used by the classis for commissioned pastor selection, preparation, commissioning, support, and supervision.

R 17-22 - Approved

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined; deletions are stricken):

Chapter 1, Part IV, Article 

… Certification Agency; a number of furloughing missionary and chaplain delegates; and corresponding delegates provided for in the bylaws of General Synod …

Chapter 1, Part IV, Article 3

   Sec. 5. The classis may appoint as a delegate one of its members who is a The furloughing missionary on home assignment at the time of with at least five years of service in the field shall be eligible for appointment to the General Synod. The missionary delegate from the classis of membership once during each furlough and shall not be counted as one of the regular delegates of that classis and may serve as a missionary delegate only once every five years.

R 17-23 - Approved

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined; deletions are stricken):

Chapter 1, Part II, Article 9

   Sec. 2. Classis shall be directed by the following rules when superseding a consistory:

  1. Before superseding a consistory, the classis shall notify the church consistory and the ministers (if any) of its intention and summon the governing body consistory to show cause why that consistory should not be dissolved and the church and its property be administered under the direction and supervision of the classis. If the basis for supersession is the request of the consistory, the consistory need not show cause why it should not be dissolved and may instead advise the classis of its approval of this action.

   Sec. 3. The notice required by Chapter 1, Part II, Article 9, Section 2 shall include the following:

1a. The basis upon which the classis is seeking supersession, with specific reference to a condition found in Chapter 1, Part II, Article 9, Section 1.

b.   Notice that the action of supersession causes the termination of the ministerial relationship.

2c. The time, date, and location of the classis meeting where supersession shall be considered.

3d. A statement that the consistory must appear at the meeting identified in Section 13(a)(2) the notice to show cause and show cause why it should not be dissolved.

b.   If the basis for supersession is the request of the consistory, the consistory need not show cause why it should not be dissolved and may, instead, advise the classis of its approval of this action.

   Sec. 4. After having heard the consistory, the classis may act to supersede the consistory. A decision to supersede requires a two-thirds vote at a stated session or special session where a quorum is present, meeting the requirements of a quorum of a stated session of classis. In combination with a decision to supersede or thereafter, the classis may also elect, in accordance with the laws of the state in which that church is located, to:

  1. Terminate whatever authority the consistory or any other body has as trustees of the church property.
  2. Take the church under its direction by appointing such trustees as are required for the protection, preservation, management, and ownership of the property during such time as the classis shall determine.

   Sec. 5. c. If the classis, after having heard the consistory, continues in its intention, it shall dissolve the consistory and otherwise terminate the formal organization of that church and

a.   When a consistory is superseded, the consistory is dissolved and any ministerial relationships of that church are terminated. The classis shall take such steps as may be necessary to bring that church, its ministry, and its property under the direct administration of the classis.

d.b.Such a church shall not have a consistory, but the The classis shall designate those persons, not necessarily members of that church, who, in lieu of the consistory, shall exercise the functions of a consistory or a board of elders or a board of deacons as may be necessary for the administration of the church. These persons shall serve the church in the same capacity as a consistory until such time as the life of the church has reached an end or a consistory for the church is reconstituted (Chapter 1, Part II, Article 97, Section 715). The supersession board is authorized to carry out the responsibilities of Chapter 1, Part I, Articles 2, 5, and 6, without further acts of the classis. In carrying out these responsibilities, the supersession board shall follow the requirements of Chapter 1, Part I, Article 4. The classis may grant additional authority to the supersession board or may impose restrictions on the authority automatically granted to the supersession board.

e.   The final action of the classis to dissolve a consistory shall require a two-thirds vote. The classis shall have a quorum present consisting of (a) a majority of elder delegates and commissioned pastors, and (b) a majority of those ministers who are actively serving in ministries under the jurisdiction of the classis.

   Sec. 3. When the classis has superseded a consistory, it shall have the authority, in the exercise of its discretion and in accordance with the laws of the state in which that church is located, to:

a.   Terminate whatever authority the consistory or any other body has as trustees of the church property.

b.   Take the church under its direction by appointing such trustees as are required for the protection, preservation, management and ownership of the property during such time as the classis shall determine.

   All actions of the classis under this section shall require a two-thirds vote. The classis shall have a quorum present consisting of (a) a majority of elder delegates and commissioned pastors, and (b) a majority of those ministers who are actively serving in ministries under the jurisdiction of the classis.

   Sec. 64. The classis shall have the authority to reconstitute the consistory of a church when, in the judgment of the classis, sufficient growth has been achieved or suitable stability created so that the church can continue ministry without classis administration. The classis shall guide the consistory selection process (Chapter 1, Part I, Article 2, Section 14). The decision to reconstitute the consistory requires a two-thirds vote at a stated session or special session where a quorum is present, meeting the requirements of a quorum of a stated session of classis. All actions of the classis under this section shall require a two-thirds vote. The classis shall have a quorum present consisting of (a) a majority of elder delegates and commissioned pastors, and (b) a majority of those ministers who are actively serving in ministries under the jurisdiction of the classis.

R 17-24 - Approved as amended

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined; deletions are stricken):

Chapter 1, Part I, Article 1           

   Sec. 3. Ministers are those men and women who have been inducted into the Office of Minister of Word and Sacrament that office by ordination in accordance with the Word of God and the order established or recognized by the Reformed Church in America. Ministers of Word and Sacrament They are equal in authority as ministers and as stewards of the mysteries of God. Ministers shall ordinarily be confessing members of only the Reformed Church in America, except as otherwise provided in Chapter 1, Part II, Article 15, Section 1 and in Chapter 1, Part I, Article 2, Section 4. No person who has relinquished the ministry for which installed or commissioned or who has been suspended or deposed from the ministry shall exercise that office. 

   Sec. 4. The Office of Minister of Word and Sacrament is one of servanthood and service representing Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit. Ministers are called to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and to the ministry of the Word of God.

  1. A minister serving a congregation is the In the local church the minister serves as pastor and teacher of the congregation to build up and equip the whole church for its ministry in the world. The minister preaches and teaches the Word of God, administers the sacraments under the authority of the consistory, shares responsibility with the elders and deacons and members of the congregation for their mutual Christian growth, exercises Christian love and discipline in conjunction with the elders, and endeavors that everything in the church be done in a proper and orderly way. As pastor and teacher the minister so serves and lives among the congregation that together they become wholly devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ in the service of the church for the world.
  2. A specialized minister is a Sec. 5. The office of the minister in a specialized ministry is to serve as pastor and teacher of the people among whom the minister works, to build up and equip those people, and to serve with the whole church in its ministry in the world. The specialized minister proclaims the Word of God in word and deed and administers the sacraments when appropriate under the authority of the classis. The minister so serves and lives among the people that together they become wholly devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ in the service of the church for the world.
  3. Proper ecclesiastical designation of ministers shall accord with the nature of their ministry, such as pastor, teacher, professor, missionary, chaplain, president, executive secretary, director, or other appropriate designation.

R 17-25 - Approved

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order for recommendations to the classes for approval (additions are underlined; deletions are stricken):

Chapter 1, Part II, Article 7

   Sec. 3. The classis shall appoint one of its ministers a minister as supervisor of all proceedings of the consistory of a church without an installed minister. If the minister to be appointed as supervisor is a member of another classis, then the classis shall consult with the minister’s classis of membership prior to making such appointment. The classis shall determine the appropriate responsibilities for the supervisor.

R 17-26 - Not Approved

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined; deletions are stricken):

Chapter 1, Part I

Article 9. Affiliated Churches

   Sec. 1. A consistory, with approval of its congregation and classis, may affiliate its church with another denomination in which the General Synod has declared the Reformed Church in America to be in full communion. A church that affiliates with another denomination remains subject to the provisions of the Constitution of the Reformed Church in America.

   Sec. 2. A church from a denomination with which the General Synod has declared the Reformed Church in America to be in full communion may affiliate with a classis of the Reformed Church in America. The approval of the classis that is most geographically proximate to the church and will receive the church, and the approval of the church’s current denomination/s, as well as congregational approval, are required before affiliation may occur.

  1. Unless otherwise determined by the receiving classis, delegates from an affiliating church shall be corresponding delegates to the classis.
  2. A minister of an affiliating church shall remain subject to the discipline of the minister’s denomination.
  3. A church that affiliates with the Reformed Church in America remains subject to the governance of its current denomination, unless it is otherwise agreed.

R 17-27 - Approved

To instruct the General Synod Council, in consultation with the Commission on History and the Commission for Women, to plan a time of celebration and thanksgiving for the gifts and ministries of women in the Reformed Church in America during the General Synod of 2018.

R 17-28 - Approved

To refer the paper “Ministerial Supply 1900–2010: A Historical Perspective” to all classes and regional synods, as well as the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency and the General Synod professors, and further,

To request that all of those to whom the paper is referred discuss and prayerfully consider how high standards for Reformed theological education, especially at RCA seminaries, might be made accessible to all those called to study for ministry.

R 17-29 - Approved

To encourage congregations, classes, regional synods, GSC, the racial-ethnic councils, and the commissions to intentionally identify and recruit more racial/ethnic members as candidates to serve on commissions, particularly the Commission on Church Order, the Commission on History, and the Commission on Judicial Business.

R 17-30 - Approved

To integrate the following questions into Part 2 of the annual Consistorial Report Form for at least the next five years: How does your congregation reflect the racial and cultural context in which you conduct your ministry? What are you doing to build bridges that develop and deepen mutual ministry that is multiracial or multicultural?

[R 17-31 was inadvertently skipped in numbering]

R 17-32 - Approved

To approve the following amendment to the Bylaws of the General Synod in the Book of Church Order for submission to the 2018 General Synod for final approval (additions are underlined; deletions are stricken):

Chapter 3, Part I, Article 5, Section 9

a.   The commission shall have ten members. The membership shall include two three persons from among the Reformed Church seminary faculties, one General Synod professor, two persons from among the faculties of the Reformed Church colleges, three pastors, and two laypersons. There shall also be two ecumenical observers named by the Commission on Theology, subject to the approval of the General Synod: one from other reformed bodies and one from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The term of office for ecumenical appointees shall be three years. They shall be subject to re-election for one additional term. Competence in theology is required of all members.

R 17-33 - Approved

To recommend that classes assign mentors to their students under care, both men and women, to better guide and equip them through the process of seminary, ordination, job searching, and ministry.

R 17-34 - Approved

To encourage classes to send women elders, ministers of Word and sacrament, and specialized ministers as voting delegates to both regional and General Synod meetings and other gatherings, and to encourage classes to be more intentional about presenting women in leadership roles in RCA churches and camps.

R 17-35 - Approved

To request that the president of General Synod 2018 assign women to worship leadership roles for the 2018 General Synod.

R 17-36 - Approved

To instruct the GSC to develop a list of women pastors, elders, and leaders who can be mentors and/or coaches for women throughout the RCA who would like access to such an opportunity.

R 17-37 - Approved

To urge classes and regional synods to review their bylaws, literature, and electronic media to ensure they are in alignment with the Book of Church Order, especially with regard to the removal of the conscience clause.

R 17-38 - Approved

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Gregg A. Mast has served New Brunswick Theological Seminary as its president since 2006, and has served on the faculty as the John Henry Livingstone Professor of Theology during that same time, leading the seminary into a new era in its long and distinguished history; and

WHEREAS Dr. Mast has guided the seminary through the reconfiguration of its campus, including a new seminary building and upgrading its historic library, while at the same time putting the institution on a solid financial basis to support an innovative future; and

WHEREAS under Dr. Mast’s leadership, the seminary has become truly diverse in both race and gender, not only in its student body but in its faculty, staff, and board; and

WHEREAS Dr. Mast has encouraged and led the seminary in its goal of becoming an anti-racist institution, a project that includes not only students and faculty but staff and board; and

WHEREAS Dr. Mast has served the Reformed Church in America as a General Synod professor, offering to the church his wise counsel and genuine love; and

WHEREAS Dr. Mast has been not only a faithful and supportive colleague to faculty and staff, but also a friend whose care and concern have touched all who have served and studied with him;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, in its 211th regular session, meeting June 8 through 13, 2017, in Holland, Michigan, expresses its deepest gratitude to Dr. Mast for his service to the seminary and to the church, and offers its prayers for a fulfilling retirement along with his wife, Vicki.

AND BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that Dr. Gregg A. Mast be declared a General Synod professor emeritus as of June 14, 2017.

R 17-39 - Approved

To approve the following amendments to Article III, Sections 1 and 2 of the Bylaws of the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency of the Reformed Church in America (additions are underlined, deletions are stricken):

Article III

Structure; Membership of Board of Trustees

Sec. 1. The Agency shall be governed by the Board. The Board shall consist of eleven nine voting members, each of whom shall be a confessing member in good standing of the RCA. Voting membership of the Board shall include at least three people who are not ordained to the office of Minister of Word and sacrament, at least two people who are ordained to the office of Minister of Word and sacrament and serving an RCA congregation, at least one Minister of Word and sacrament who is engaged in specialized ministry such as Clinical Pastoral Education supervision or chaplaincy, one General Synod professor from an RCA seminary, the General Secretary of the RCA or his or her designee, and one GSC member recommended by the GSC, and the general secretary of the Reformed Church in America or a representative of the general secretary appointed by the general secretary, either of whom shall serve ex officio and without vote. The presidents of the RCA seminaries are not eligible to be on the MFCA Board.

Sec. 2.  Each Trustee (other than the general secretary or his or her designee) shall be nominated by the General Synod’s Commission on Nominations (in consultation with the Agency and, in the case of the GSC member recommended by the GSC, in consultation with the GSC) and elected by the General Synod. The General Synod professor from an RCA seminary will be restricted to one term, and tThe term of the Trustee who is a GSC member recommended by the GSC shall be coterminous with his or her term on the GSC. Except as otherwise provided in the immediately preceding sentence, the eligibility, and the length, number, commencement date, and calculation of the terms of the Trustees shall be as set forth in the BCO.

R 17-40 - Approved

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Chad T. Pierce has served in Christian higher education for 12 years and has been an ordained minister of Word and sacrament in the Reformed Church in America since 2002; and

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Chad T. Pierce has been committed to growing in his own theological education at Calvin College (BA), Jerusalem University College (MA), Western Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and Durham University (Ph.D.); and

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Chad T. Pierce has served as a professor of New Testament at Central College in Pella, Iowa, a college of the Reformed Church in America; and

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Chad T. Pierce has been an adjunct faculty member of Calvin College, Kuyper College, and Western Theological Seminary for 12 years; and

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Chad T. Pierce has served as an ordained minister of Word and sacrament in both the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church in North America, where he has supervised and mentored students in the Certificate of Fitness for Ministry process; and

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Chad T. Pierce has served the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency of the Reformed Church in America through regular teaching in the field of biblical languages, evaluating case studies, and serving as a member of the Reformed Candidates’ Supervision and Care Certification Committee; and

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Chad T. Pierce has been an active member of classes in the Reformed Church in America, including serving on the student care committee of Zeeland Classis and serving as president of Central Iowa Classis; and

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Chad T. Pierce has served on the Pastoral Formation Coordinating Committee, formerly called the Call, Care, and Standards Collaboration Group, and has been the moderator of this group for six years;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 211th regular session of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, meeting in Holland, Michigan, from June 8 to 13, 2017, declares the Rev. Dr. Chad T. Pierce a General Synod professor.

R 17-41 - Approved

To elect the above-named nominees to the General Synod commissions and agencies and the boards of directors or trustees of RCA-related educational institutions as indicated. 

R 17-42 - Approved

To elect Carl Boersma as moderator of the Commission on Nominations for the 2017–2018 term.

R 17-43 - Approved

To deny Overture 9

R 17-44 - Approved

To direct the GSC to create a task force, including members of the Commission on Christian Unity, the Commission on Church Order, the overturing bodies, and other parties deemed appropriate to review the RCA’s commitment to the Formula of Agreement, including its role in ecumenism and exchange of ministers, and report back to General Synod 2019 with recommendations for future General Synod action.

R 17-45 - Approved

To deny Overture 34.

R 17-46 - Approved

To deny Overtures 35 and 36.

R 17-47 - Approved

To deny Overture 1.

R 17-48 - Approved

To instruct the Commission on Church Order to propose constitutionally appropriate amendments to the Book of Church Order to accomplish the intent of Overtures 16 and 17 for report to the 2018 General Synod. 

R 17-49 - Approved

To deny Overtures 18, 19, 20, and 42. 

R 17-50 - Approved

To direct the General Synod Council to send two of its members as well as two additional RCA members to meet with the Pastoral Formation Coordinating Committee (PFCC) at one of the PFCC’s stated meetings to discuss and clarify the potential migration and redefinition of the Certificate of Fitness for Ministry to a certificate of academic readiness, and to report back to General Synod 2018. 

R 17-51 - Approved

To instruct the Commission on Church Order to investigate the feasibility of one or more constitutionally appropriate proposals for amending the Book of Church Order (BCO) to provide for the discipline of a classis, including discipline initiated by another classis and/or classes, and to present recommendations to the 2018 General Synod. 

R 17-52 - Approved

To deny Overture 25. 

R 17-53 - Approved

To instruct the Commission on Church Order, in consultation with the Board of Benefits Services, to prepare such changes to BCO Formulary No. 5, paragraph 5 (2016 edition, pp. 132-133), that make clear a consistory’s responsibility for any additional costs borne by a minister and the minister’s family when that minister’s insurance comes through the spouse’s employer-sponsored plan, for report to the General Synod of 2018. 

R 17-54 - Approved

To declare that only classes that have seated delegates at a General Synod which recommends a proposed change to the Constitution of the Reformed Church in America to the classes for approval may vote on that proposed change, and furthermore, to instruct the Commission on Church Order to propose language for the Book of Church Order to clarify this matter, for recommendation to the General Synod of 2018. 

R 17-55 - Approved

To send Overture 44 to the Commission on Church Order for consultation with the Regional Synod of the Far West. 

R 17-56 - Approved as amended

To request that the GSC as well as each classis and regional synod engage in discussion at its next stated meeting around the future of the Reformed Church in America in light of our current state of contention and division, exploring the biblical vision of a covenant people and church united in mission, recognizing that a church divided is not God’s intention for God’s people and is not a redemptive witness to our world. 

The discussion should be developed by the interim general secretary, in consultation with GSC, regional executives, and a small group of pastors and elders so that the rich diversity of the church (including the rich diversity in age, sexual and gender identities, race/ethnicity) might be reflected, and should include the following questions: 

  1. How do we understand the biblical calling to live together in a unity of fellowship and love for one another? 
  2. Are we willing to see the Reformed Church in America embark on a serious division, and what is our part in bringing reconciliation and restoration? 
  3. What do we believe is God’s intended future for the Reformed Church in America? 

The results of conversations at all levels should be shared across the classes and regions. The summary of these conversations should be shared with the 2018 General Synod by the interim general secretary in consultation with GSC, regional executives, and the small group of pastors and elders, with appropriate next steps identified. 

The process should be grounded in prayer, be focused on Scripture, and provide an environment for authentic and honest discussion within our assemblies and with one another that effectively deepens our relationship and love for one another and strengthens our witness in the world. 

R 17-57 - Approved

To urge every church in the RCA to use the three-part video series and discussion guide on the RCA website entitled, “A Light to My Path: Interpreting Scripture as Reformed Christians.” 

R 17-58 - Referred

To urge all RCA assemblies and other bodies and all RCA members to maintain our covenant bonds with each other, especially with regard to the conflict over human sexuality, and further, to refrain from pushing the boundaries around the human sexuality conflict and to not leave the denomination, instead focusing on our God-given mission. 

R 17-59 - Approved

To direct the general secretary to send 20 young adults in 2017–2018 to serve with our RCA missionaries and mission partners, 40 in 2018–2019, and 80 in 2019–2020.

  1. This falls within the current Transformed & Transforming initiatives and will be run by General Synod staff, specifically under the direction of the Global Mission team.
  2. RCA missionaries and mission personnel have already developed and will continue to develop job descriptions and ministry opportunities across the globe.
  3. It is requested that RCA churches and classes help recruit young adults for these opportunities.
  4. RCA churches and classes are invited to think creatively about ways of sending, funding, and supporting the change of this corporate norm for the sake of the kingdom.

R 17-60  - Approved

To urge all RCA assemblies and other bodies and all RCA members to maintain our covenant bonds with each other, especially with regard to the conflict over human sexuality; and further, to urge classes to refrain from approving the requests of churches to transfer to another denomination prior to the conclusion of General Synod 2018, instead focusing on our God-given mission. 

R 17-61 - Approved

To affirm that the Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 108 and 109 categorically states that God condemns “all unchastity,” which includes same-sex sexual activity, and that faithful adherence to the RCA’s Standards, therefore, entails the affirmation that marriage is between one man and one woman.

R 17-62 - Approved

To instruct the Commission on Church Order, in consultation with the Commission on Theology, to investigate the tensions around the title of commissioned pastor, and, if appropriate, to present a new designation in place of “commissioned pastor” for presentation to General Synod 2018.

R 17-63 - Approved

To request that the stated clerks discuss and share their best practices of commissioned pastor training and compensation at their next stated clerks meeting. 

R 17-64 - Approved

To direct the general secretary to coordinate a video project that gathers the stories of commissioned pastors in ministry, using a model that requires no increase in assessments, and to present this video to the broader assemblies no later than General Synod 2019. 

R 17-65 - Approved
To approve the $0.14 per member assessment to fulfill R 17-44 to create a task force to review the Formula of Agreement.