The delegates discussed four different ways the two denominations could work together
Joint advisory committees of the RCA and CRC reported out about four different ways that the RCA and CRC could work together in the future: collaboration, new creation, congregational renewal, and new creation.
Twenty-nine joint advisory committees, each focusing on one of the four topics, met for several hours on Saturday, June 8. The reports on Monday morning were summaries of their discussions.
Topic #1: Collaboration
The advisory committees that met about collaboration affirmed the importance of seeing greater collaboration at the local level. Although they saw the collaboration already happening as positive, they felt it was often limited to the denominational level. Many delegates were unaware of the cooperation already happening between the RCA and CRC. To increase collaboration at the grassroots level, the advisory committees suggested holding more classis and regional meetings together and building local ministry partnerships.
Topic #2: New creation
The advisory committees that met about “new creation” focused on the idea of creating an entirely new denomination. Several themes emerged in their discussion, including a vision for a denominational structure that equips and resources local churches and excitement about a new denomination “that wasn’t viewed as a chore or a duty, but one in which they felt they belonged.” The groups generated a number of ideas for how to move forward toward this future.
Five of these ideas were highlighted in the report:
- Be brave. “Let’s boldly name this idea of one denomination as a future reality,” the report read. “Once we do that, let’s come together as denominations to figure out our path forward.”
- Center any change on resourcing and blessing local congregations.
- Collaborate more and do more together so that it will one day make sense for us to form one denomination.
- Increase communication at all levels.
- Make this process grounded and pastoral. “We have to approach this not just from an institutional standpoint; we need to remember the real, live people in our churches,” the report read.
Topic #3: Congregational renewal
The advisory committees that met about congregational renewal imagined what it would look like for both denominations to have access to a “resource capability that would encourage the ministry of the local church.” The groups expressed a sense of urgency that such a resource was necessary, but also worried that what the resource would end up being less useful and accessible to local churches than intended. The committees identified respect, listening, assessment, sharing, accessibility, and being high tech as key components for a collaborative effort to bring renewal to local churches.
Topic #4: Interfaith engagement
The advisory committees that met about interfaith engagement looked at current and future efforts for the RCA and CRC to get to know people of different faiths, understand them, be hospitable to them, and show the love of Christ to them. While the groups that met about interfaith engagement realized they had different understandings of some aspects of interfaith engagement, they agreed about the urgent need for interfaith engagement and saw a number of different ways for the RCA and CRC to partner in this work. The report to synod highlighted seven:
- Provide training and learning experiences for pastors and denominational leaders to equip them for congregational conversations.
- Promote learning trips for congregations and youth.
- Offer combined funding to make resources available to local churches.
- Encourage congregations and individuals to engage with other religious groups in their communities.
- Get beyond just teaching to provide opportunities and experiences for interfaith engagement
- Develop a theology and practice of missions as being a guest.
- Create space for doubt, questions, and fear that may result from interfaith engagement.
Each of the four reports noted the joy and support for partnership that delegates from the RCA and CRC shared in their conversations. After each report, delegates had an opportunity to discuss it with the RCA and CRC delegates at their table.
For more news coverage from synod, visit www.rca.org/synod.