General Synod 2017 met June 8-13 on the campus of Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and addressed many aspects of ministry and mission in the RCA.
Synod approved a denomination-wide discussion about unity and the future of the RCA. General secretary Tom De Vries proposed the conversation in his report, and delegates began the conversation at synod.
Delegates again called for unity when they voted to urge RCA assemblies, other bodies, and members to maintain covenant bonds.
General Synod affirmed that the Heidelberg Catechism in Q&A 108 and 109 “categorically states that God condemns all ‘unchastity,’ which includes same-sex sexual activity” (R 17-61).
The Heidelberg Catechism is one of the RCA’s four Standards of Unity. The recommendation says, “faithful adherence to the RCA’s Standards, therefore, entails the affirmation that marriage is between one man and one woman.”
Delegates approved commissioned pastors becoming voting members of consistory, classis, regional synod, and General Synod (R 17-21). These changes, which are amendments to the Book of Church Order, will go to the classes for approval. Before voting, delegates met in all-synod advisory committees to discuss the recommendation. The majority of the committees advised support for the amendment. They also brought forth three additional recommendations, all of which were approved, asking for clarity about and support for commissioned pastors.
Synod also celebrated:
- The impact of Transformed & Transforming, the RCA’s 15-year ministry plan. They also watched video testimonies of transformation throughout synod.
- The retirement of Gregg Mast after 41 years of service to the RCA and 11 years as president of New Brunswick Theological Seminary. He will be succeeded by Micah McCreary.
- The election of James Nakakihara as vice president of General Synod 2018. He is an elder from Rancho Community Church in Temecula, California.
In other business:
- General Synod urged RCA congregations to take action regarding the global refugee crisis.
- In his final report to the General Synod as general secretary, Tom De Vries called for unity and made his first ever proposal to a synod.
- By a margin of one, delegates voted to instruct the Commission on Church Order to investigate amending the Book of Church Order (BCO) to provide for the discipline of a classis. The investigation will include consideration of discipline initiated by another classis (R 17-51).
- Synod approved a recommendation proposed by synod president Dan Gillett to increase the number of RCA young people spending a year in mission service. The Next Generation Missional Engagement Fund, supported by the Church Growth Fund, will make this possible.