Delegates nominated four candidates for the office of General Synod vice president for 2020. On Monday evening, each candidate spoke briefly to the synod. Delegates will vote on Tuesday morning.
Rev. Phil Assink
Rev. Phil Assink is strategic interim pastor of East Valley Reformed Church in Yakima, Washington. Previously, he was pastor of Faith Community Church in Edmonds, Washington; associate pastor of New Life Community Church in Artesia, California, and also of New Hope Community Church in Canoga Park, California. He is a graduate of Seattle Pacific College in Seattle, Washington, and earned his M.Div. from Western Theological Seminary. He has served as a representative to the National Council of Churches, as president and classis strategist for Cascades Classis, as co-director of Congregational Vitality Pathway, and on the executive team of the Regional Synod of the Far West. He values proportional giving, hospitality, relationships that lead to kingdom impact, and preaching and living the good news of God’s grace. He and his wife, Melissa, have two sons and three grandchildren.
“I bring a love for the RCA and a love for local churches,” Assink told delegates in his remarks to General Synod. He went on to explain that in his work, he helps churches become “healthy and missional. By healthy, we mean pursuing Jesus Christ, loving the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength; by being missional, we mean going and proclaiming the gospel and making disciples of all nations. My pledge to you is that I will do whatever I can to make the RCA, its churches and its leaders, healthier and more missional.”
Rev. Dale Buettner
Rev. Dale Buettner is pastor of Community Reformed Church in Lafayette, Indiana. He has previously served as pastor of Second Reformed Church of Hackensack, New Jersey; founding pastor of New Life Presbyterian Church in York, Pennsylvania; and associate pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church, also in York. He values friendship, listening, and compassion. “I believe God has given me a diverse church background in order to open my eyes to the beautiful diversity of God’s people, and to enable me to be understanding, appreciative, and empathetic toward various perspectives,” he says. Buettner is currently serving as president of Illiana-Florida Classis and is an at-large member of the Regional Synod of Mid-America’s executive committee. Buettner is a graduate of Johnson University in Knoxville, Tennessee, and earned his M.Div. from Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He and his wife, Shelley, have two teenage daughters.
“I love the RCA for so many reasons, but one specific reason I do is because the RCA is a relational denomination,” he said, addressing the synod. “In this particular expression of Christ’s body, I have experienced the kind of loving friendship that transcends the barriers and boundaries that we are so prone to put in front of those with whom we disagree. This is what gives me hope, and hope is what keeps us alive. … If elected, I will do my best to show up, to be present to you, to listen to you, and to assist you in making disciples of all nations. Grace and peace, my friends.”
Rev. Brad Kautz
Rev. Brad Kautz is pastor of Jicarilla Apache Reformed Church in Dulce, New Mexico, where he has served since 2013, after 27 years as an occupational therapist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He says that numerous life experiences “have proved invaluable in shaping [his] character” for ministry. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and earned his M.Div. from Western Theological Seminary. Kautz currently serves on the leadership development team for Rocky Mountain Classis. Three core values for his life and ministry are patience, dependence on Scripture, and prayer for guidance, which, he says, “show themselves over and over every day.” He and his wife, Robin, have seven children.
“The world is full of lost and broken people,” he said in his remarks to the synod. “They are living without hope. They’re here in Holland; they’re in Dulce, where I live; and they’re in the ends of the earth,” said Kautz in his address to delegates. “Our calling is the truth we proclaim—the truth of the gospel. May we be a people … that most of all proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Rev. Dr. Patricia Sealy
Rev. Dr. Patricia Sealy is pastor of Mott Haven Reformed Church in the Bronx, New York, and CEO of Children’s Haven: A Place of Healing and Hope. She previously served as associate pastor of Elim International Fellowship Church in Brooklyn, New York. She received her D.Min. and M.Div. from New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Her service to the RCA includes the former Pastoral Formation Coordinating Committee, the President’s Council, and the Commission on Christian Action; for the Regional Synod of New York, she has served on the Human Supports Committee and the Executive Committee. “God has strategically placed me in executive leadership positions,” she says, as preparation for the role of vice president. She believes “that every person has inherent value and worth; that my word is my bond; [and] that Christ is the center of all that I do and live.” Her husband serves as an elder at Mott Haven, and they have four grown children.
“I understand this to be a calling,” she said in her remarks to the General Synod. “The Holy Spirit has spoken clearly to me, compelling me to lead our church in this season with love, prayer, and thoughtful action. My passions are transforming lives by the power of the gospel. I dream of a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit upon the RCA to empower us to do greater works for the building of God’s kingdom.”