The denomination’s restructuring team had its first in-person meeting last week, May 11–13, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Previously, the team—proposed by the Vision 2020 Team, approved by General Synod 2021, and appointed by the General Synod Council (GSC)—met via Zoom in March.
Team members agreed that their time together was a rich time of getting to know one another and beginning to develop trust and coherence within the group. They agreed upon guiding principles and values for their joint work, which aims to prepare churches who remain in the RCA for healthy and sustainable ministry. The team will bring recommendations about an optimal denominational structure to General Synod 2024.
The meeting was also a time of prayer and seeking God, both individually and corporately.
“We realize discerning God’s will is moving beyond human thinking and strategizing to a place of deep listening and response to the spirit of God within and among us,” says Michelle Chahine, an elder who also serves on the GSC and on the Regional Synod of the Great Lakes executive committee. “Discerning God’s will moves us towards concrete expressions of love for God, love of self, love for others, and love for the world, so that we can align ourselves with what God is calling us to do.
“Love is our ultimate calling.”
The team committed to using the principles of group discernment found in Ruth Haley Barton’s Pursuing God’s Will Together. These principles are based upon ancient and historic Christian practices, and the process is based on decades of research into effective and God-honoring corporate discernment. The team will incorporate listening prayer into its process, continually inviting God to direct its work.
The members of the restructuring team have individually committed to engage this discernment process, and they call the wider RCA to join in this process of spiritual discernment in their own congregations and in their own personal lives.
“We all committed to learning and living into the process of discernment. We value God’s will so much that we will wait until we feel we have discerned God’s will before taking any action,” says Chahine. “How do we join God during this ‘spiritual discernment’ season? Are we paying attention to where he is already at work in the RCA?
“We are on a journey of becoming a spiritual community. We desire the denomination to join us.”
The team will next meet in person in October. Between now and then, the team will continue its work via regular Zoom meetings. Representatives from the team will present an update about their work at General Synod in June, but there will be no related vote or actionable items.
The restructuring team includes:
- Eddy Alemán, general secretary of the Reformed Church in America
- Dale Assink, classis leader for Central Plains Classis
- Greg Brower, pastor of Zion Reformed Church in Grandville, Michigan
- Michelle Chahine, General Synod Council member, Regional Synod of the Great Lakes executive committee, elder
- Chad Farrand, classis executive for Classis de las Naciones, associate director of RCA Church Multiplication
- Andrea Godwin-Stremler, trustee at Western Theological Seminary, executive director of New Revelations Collegiate Mission in Krum, Texas
- Dionne Harvey Parks, elder at Chosen Generation Fellowship Church in Carson, California
- Sung Kim, lead pastor of Grace Churches in Ann Arbor, Michigan, associate general secretary and chief operating officer of the Reformed Church in America
- Micah McCreary, president of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, General Synod professor of theology
- Sherri Meyer-Veen, pastor of Schoharie Reformed Church in Schoharie, New York, Faithwalking and Churches Learning Change coordinator for the Regional Synod of Albany
- Ina Montoya, elder at Jicarilla Apache Reformed Church in Dulce, New Mexico
- Young Na, pastor of Forest Park Church in Woodhaven, New York
- Andres Serrano, pastor of Iglesia La Senda in Corona, California, and coordinator for Hispanic Ministries of the Reformed Church in America
- Gildo Vieira, elder at Igreja Vida Nova in Toronto, Ontario
Bob Logan acts as a facilitator for the team. Additional resource people will include Marijke Strong and Brian Keepers from the Vision 2020 Team, representatives from the Commission on Church Order, and Tim TenClay, pastor of Community Reformed Church in Manhasset, New York; resource people have no vote.