Bilingual worship celebrates the work of the Holy Spirit
Delegates gathered for Sunday morning worship at the Douwstra Auditorium. The Council for Hispanic Ministries led bilingual worship, with Scripture, prayers, songs, and communion in Spanish and English. On this Trinity Sunday, Rev. Pedro Agudelo preached on John 16:12-15, speaking of Christ as the truth and the Spirit as the convictor.
“The Trinity is in the RCA’s boat. And this boat is not sinking. This boat is going forward into the twenty-first century,” he said.
Those who attended worship were invited to take and keep a copy of Santo, Santo, Santo, the hymnal used during the service. The Commission on Christian Worship and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship made the multilingual hymnal available for delegates as a gift. The hymnal, commended by the commission, has more than 700 songs, with more than 30 countries and cultures represented.
Synod welcomes new churches to the RCA
On Sunday night, synod congratulated two churches for organizing and officially welcomed them to the RCA: Renacer Church in Doral, Florida, and Chosen Generation in Long Beach, California.
Delegates also celebrated the start of five new RCA church plants: Iglesia Rememante de Gracia in Mission, Texas; Multi Ethnic Church of Mt. Greenwood in Chicago, Illinois; Mision 7 in Tampa Bay, Florida; City Harbor Church, in Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Iglesia Reformada Lux Del Valle in Mission, Texas.
“God is not done with us yet, and is bringing to us some vibrant new ministries that we get to celebrate tonight,” said Randy Weener, RCA director of Church Multiplication.
In his report, Weener commented on several trends his team is observing in new RCA ministries, including a rise in international church planting, covocational ministry, and smaller, simpler ministries.
Synod recognizes and celebrates Missional Impact Partners
On Sunday evening, as part of his report to the General Synod, Larryl Humme, director of Advancement, recognized 33 Missional Impact Partners. These churches have given a minimum of 10 percent of their congregational income or $40,000 in one fiscal year to the denomination to support its ministry and mission.
Humme encouraged delegates and the congregations they represent to continue their support of the RCA. “God isn’t finished with the Reformed Church in America just yet,” he said, imploring generous giving for the continuation of God’s mission.
Sacrificial living and generous giving is one of the ten healthy missional markers that have been an overarching theme of this year’s General Synod meeting.
Encouragement and greetings from ecumenical partners
On Sunday evening, the synod received greetings from representatives of five ecumenical partners: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Church of Christ, the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the World Communion of Reformed Churches.
This year, together with three of these ecumenical bodies, the RCA marks the 25th anniversary of A Formula of Agreement.
“[The 25th anniversary of the Formula of Agreement] is significant and worth noting at a time when people and churches seem to find more and more ways to be divided, we see more and more opportunities to be united,” said Lisa Gaston, representing the United Church of Christ.
”You are not alone as you seek to discern God’s future for the RCA. … We have offered a counter-cultural example of seeking unity in our difference. We are stronger together … and so is our witness.Chris Olkiewicz, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
”Your faith and your spirit, your preaching, your kindness, your graciousness to each other and to me has filled me up this week. The possibilities of growth that you are reaching for—they’re struggles we all experience in the church. And you seek Jesus’s sincere guidance for all the things for which you pray.Lisa Gaston, United Church of Christ
I want to thank you especially for worship this week. When I head home again on Tuesday afternoon, I will be headed home renewed and refreshed, believe it or not. I will stand up as Rev. Micah exhorted us to; I will know I am not alone by what Rev. Fransisca shared with us; and I know that the Holy Spirit is waiting for me, my church, the UCC, and all of us in community between mercy and trust as Rev. Pedro preached this morning.
”One hundred and sixty-five years ago this April, we ran away from home. By ‘we,’ I mean our denomination, the Christian Reformed Church in North America. By ‘home,’ I mean your denomination, the Reformed Church in America. And by ‘run away,’ I mean the cessation from Classis Holland in 1857 of four congregations and two ministers that left to form the CRC. … Although I am a descendent of those runaway children of 1857, I can say that during these last few days here, I have felt very close to home.Lyle Bierma, Christian Reformed Church in North America
”We are also on our journey from lament to hope. … We have become a much smaller denomination as a result of congregations that have left and closed. A word of encouragement: God was never finished with the Presbyterian Church, and God is not done with you. You may look a little different. And you may continue to lament those who leave and lament what you do not have any more. But even in those times and moments of lament, I would encourage you to listen to the gift of the Holy Spirit, directing your heart and mind, your work and your witness, to continue to do what God has in store for you.Dianna Wright, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
”The WCRC is a global koinonia marked by discerning, confessing, witnessing, and being Reformed together. Called to communion and committed to justice, we believe that communion and justice are inextricably connected. Communion without justice masks inequality, exclusion, and oppression. Justice without communion is in danger of being divisive.Phil Tanis, WCRC