There are lots of reasons to say “no” to attending General Synod, but the experience can be a blessing—as one delegate has discovered. 

By Kelly Kotch

In 2015, my pastor asked me to consider attending General Synod because it was our church’s turn to send an alternate elder delegate. There are a lot of reasons to say no to such a request. Life is busy. And if you are working full-time in addition to your church responsibilities, who really wants to use one week of vacation to go to a church meeting?

I didn’t know what to expect at General Synod that year. Certainly not the overwhelming amount of encouragement and education that I left with! I met people who have become lifelong friends, and I had access to resources that I’ve shared with my church and have used—no exaggeration—every week.

Some of those friendships and resources came from a workshop led by Liz Testa, the coordinator for Women’s Transformation and Leadership. I hadn’t planned to attend Liz’s workshop. That is, until I heard her explain the importance of including women and their gifts throughout all areas of the RCA—but not at the exclusion of men. Her words of equality and unity compelled me to attend.

At the workshop, we shared our stories with one another. I learned how our experiences and decisions directly affect our sisters throughout the RCA. My sisters told about their struggles with not having a voice in the leadership of their church and about how their contributions are questioned simply because they are female. I learned that as a woman who is fully supported in my call to ministry by both men and women, I have the ability and responsibility to encourage, inspire, and support my sisters who are seeking to follow God’s call but haven’t had the same affirmation.

I have now attended synod twice, first as an elder delegate and then as a seminarian, and both times have shown me that when we get so focused on one aspect of synod, or if we allow ourselves to become soured by past experiences, we miss out. Being at synod is a blessing. New friendships can bloom. New opportunities present themselves. And even a barely lit fire can be reignited!

If you find yourself with the opportunity to be part of General Synod, take it from me: don’t let it pass you by.

Kelly Kotch is a student at New Brunswick Theological Seminary and serves as an elder and vice president of consistory for Reformed Church at Finderne in Bridgewater, New Jersey. “Platform” gives RCA members a chance to share their opinions.