General Synod will be held October 14–19, 2021, in Tucson, Arizona. General Synod officers decided that the delayed, regular meeting of General Synod will convene with safety measures in place.
“We’ve spent a lot of time in prayer over the past few months, seeking God’s wisdom and discernment in how to move forward,” says an announcement issued by General Synod president EJ de Waard, vice president Phil Assink, and RCA general secretary Eddy Alemán. “In the past week, we’ve consulted with medical professionals, classis presidents, the General Synod Council, and RCA staff, seeking input on this decision.
“Based on the input we have received, we have discerned to move forward with an in-person General Synod this fall.”
This will be a regular meeting of the General Synod, not a special session. In order to meet the requirements of the Book of Church Order, a June pro forma meeting will be held at Central College in Pella, Iowa, with de Waard, Assink, and one other voting delegate. “The sole purpose of this meeting is to declare that a quorum is not present, and to adjourn the meeting to October 14–19, 2021, in Tucson,” explain the officers. “This way, the October gathering will be a stated session of the General Synod because it will be a continuation of the June gathering.
“As planning for General Synod moves forward, we will place a high value on safety and an environment of hospitality for all delegates, including those who may be in very different places regarding personal safety,” de Waard, Assink, and Alemán wrote in their announcement. “It will be critical that we show respect and care for one another and our varying experiences over the past year-plus since the COVID-19 pandemic began, so that together we can engage the difficult and weighty work of discernment that is facing General Synod 2021.”
General Synod will be held at the Westin La Paloma in Tucson, Arizona. While synod is usually held on a college campus, the October timeline made that difficult as fall breaks aren’t long enough to cover a full General Synod and there is no available lodging on campus because students are living in the dorms. RCA staff did extensive research to find a suitable location that meets the needs of General Synod and allows for COVID-19 safety protocols.
At the recommendation of health professionals, synod officers strongly urge all those who will participate in synod to be fully vaccinated before attending. At the end of August, safety protocols will be determined for the event, based on guidance from the CDC and other medical professionals, and in deference to protocols in place at the venue. The space does allow for social distancing in the plenary and breakout rooms, but mask-wearing, social distancing, and other protocols will be decided in late August.