General Synod 2018: Recommendations

The following is a list of recommendations as presented in the General Synod workbook. Unofficial updates on the actions of synod will be placed here during the meeting. Please note that these actions should not be considered official until the Minutes are posted later in the summer.

** Amendments and substitutes made at synod are not included below.

Longer recommendations are shortened here (indicated by "..."). For full recommendations, please consult the workbook.

Recommendations to General Synod 2018

EC 18-1 - Approved

To approve the agenda and schedule of the General Synod as presented in the General Synod Workbook.

EC 18-2 - Approved

To declare Amendment 1 to be approved for incorporation into the 2018 Book of Church Order.

EC 18-3 - Approved

To declare Amendment 2 to be approved for incorporation into the 2018 Book of Church Order.

EC 18-4 - Approved

To declare Amendment 3 to be approved for incorporation into the 2018 Book of Church Order.

EC 18-5 - Approved

To declare Amendment 4 to be approved for incorporation into the 2018 Book of Church Order.

EC 18-6 - Approved

To declare Amendment 5 to be approved for incorporation into the 2018 Book of Church Order.

EC 18-7 - Approved

To declare Amendment 6 to the Bylaws of the General Synod adopted in first reading by the 2017 General Synod to be approved for incorporation into the 2018 Bylaws of the General Synod.

EC 18-8 - Approved

To appoint Jillisa Teitsma as treasurer of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America.

EC 18-9 - Approved

To appoint Paul Boice assistant secretary of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America.

EC 18-10 - Approved

To approve the General Synod Council’s employment of Eddy Alemán as general secretary of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, effective July 1, 2018.

EC 18-11 - Approved

WHEREAS, after a full career of ministry at Brunswick Reformed Church and as a leader in his classis, regional synod, and General Synod, the Rev. Donald Poest came out of retirement to become interim general secretary of the Reformed Church in America; and

WHEREAS he stepped into the job immediately and fully, serving with humility and wisdom, listening throughout the denomination, and seeking the best for Christ’s church; and

WHEREAS he pastored staff and denominational leaders in a difficult year of transition and loss;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 212th regular session of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, offers thanks to God for Don Poest’s leadership and his year of faithful service as interim general secretary;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that General Synod invites its delegates and guests to express to Don Poest its gratitude, admiration, and appreciation for his service and to offer a prayer for him as he again enters retirement.

EC 18-12 - Approved

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Antoine Campbell joined the General Synod Council staff in 2013 as coordinator for African American/black ministries and soon took over leadership of denominational mission efforts and later also served as associate general secretary; and

WHEREAS Tony exercised bold leadership and brimmed with passion for the transforming power of the gospel; and

WHEREAS Tony frequently addressed the injustices of racism and worked to build bridges across racial divides in the denomination; and

WHEREAS his missional vision inspired many to work more fully in furthering the kingdom of God, helping churches discover their passion for mission and build up their capacity to do that mission; and

WHEREAS Tony had previously pastored four churches, served at America’s Promise and United Way, and tirelessly worked in community development and advocacy;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 212th regular session of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, invite its delegates and guests to celebrate Tony Campbell’s life and express its gratitude for his service to the RCA and the wider church.

EC 18-13 - Approved

WHEREAS, in a ministry that spanned half a century, the Rev. Dr. Edwin Mulder pastored churches in Michigan, New Jersey, and New York, and then pastored the denomination as general secretary; and

WHEREAS through his caring nature, Ed embraced everyone with the love of Christ; and

WHEREAS he balanced grace and truth, strength and compassion, and challenge and encouragement; and

WHEREAS Ed’s heart for the gospel was as passionate for justice as it was for the good news, staunchly opposing apartheid in South Africa and leading the denomination to advocate for justice; and

WHEREAS he championed the Belhar Confession, which came out of South Africa and became one of the Reformed Church in America’s Standards of Unity; and

WHEREAS in his retirement Ed continued to pastor churches and serve the denomination; and

WHEREAS he was so beloved that he served two churches twice;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 212th regular session of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, invite its delegates and guests to celebrate Ed Mulder’s life and express its gratitude for his service to the church.

F 18-1 -  Approved

To approve the General Synod Council 2019 assessment of $46.10 per confessing member.

F 18-2 - Approved

To approve the assessment of $2.00 per confessing member for the Board of Benefits Services to provide assistance funding for retired pastors who have a demonstrated need.

F 18-3 - Approved

To approve the assessment of $6.12 per confessing member for theological education.

F 18-4

To approve the $2.78 per confessing member assessment to fulfill RF 18-4 to fund a half-time position, designated as the coordinator for interreligious relations, and a joint interreligious committee with the CRCNA.

RF 18-1 - Approved as amended

To constitute the Pastoral Formation Oversight Board (PFOB). The purpose of the PFOB is to coordinate, evaluate, innovate, strategically anticipate, and collaboratively shape theological education that will form pastoral leadership for the RCA that is rooted in the Reformed faith and tradition while engaging in the present and emerging future.

The PFOB is to serve the RCA by coordinating the three theological agents of the RCA as they work collaboratively, actively anticipating the needs of the church in an ever-changing world and collaborating to form the pastoral leadership that the world and the church needs.

The responsibilities of the PFOB shall be:

  1. Coordinate the processes by which all three theological agents implement the Certificate of Fitness for Ministry in partnership with the classes and evaluate the overall effectiveness of the processes.
  2. Facilitate appropriate resources, support, and sharing of best practices among congregations and classes in their discernment of the call of ministerial candidates and in their care of ministerial candidates in the ordination process.
  3. Provide a forum for collaboration among the seminaries and the MFCA regarding ministerial formation and continuing education as they relate to RCA church order and the mission of the church.
  4. Facilitate the exploration of the ever-changing and increasingly diverse North American context and collaborate to form the leaders capable of doing effective ministry in an increasingly multicultural world.
  5. Explore collaboration between churches that are deeply committed to forming pastoral leadership within their congregations and the theological agents.
  6. Coordinate regular review of the standards and propose needed revisions to the General Synod, in consultation with the General Synod professors (professorate).
  7. Facilitate commissioned pastor preparation among classes as together we embrace the mission of the church.
  8. Assist the General Synod Council in conducting a triennial review of the overall assessment for theological education and any additional RCA funding to be requested, considering both the total amount and its division, in light of RCA church order and the mission of the church.

The PFOB shall consist of 13 voting members and one ex-officio, non-voting member. The membership of the PFOB shall reflect the diversity of the RCA in terms of age, gender, and ethnicity. At least three members will be currently serving as General Synod professors. Members are to be chosen as follows:

  1. The three executives of the RCA’s theological agents (WTS, NBTS, MFCA).
  2. One additional member designated by each theological agent.
  3. One member appointed by the GSC from among the GSC’s current members.
  4. Six members from the RCA, nominated by the PFOB and appointed by the General Synod, two of whom shall be commissioned pastors. These six people will serve three-year, staggered terms, which will be renewable.
  5. The general secretary, ex-officio and without vote.

The PFOB exists to serve classes, candidates, and congregations in the formation of pastoral leadership for the church. It is appointed by and directly accountable to the General Synod and is guided by the Constitution of the Reformed Church in America. The PFOB shall provide an annual report of its actions to the General Synod, to all classes, and to the boards of the three agents.

The GSC, functioning as the Executive Committee of the General Synod, in consultation with the PFOB, shall designate and fund appropriate staff support for the PFOB. Apart from costs for staff, which will be part of the GSC assessment budget, the expenses related to the PFOB shall be covered through the assessment for theological education.

The General Synod Council and the PFOB, in consultation with the Commission on Church Order, shall work together to bring an official governing document for the PFOB to General Synod 2019 for approval.

RF 18-2

To set the General Synod assessment for theological education to $829,000 for Fiscal Year 2019, to be allocated in the following manner:

  1. An initial $75,000 given to the MFCA to cover expenses and to account for its lack of ability to raise funds compared to an educational institution.
  2. 75 percent of the remaining funds are to be split evenly among the three agents for theological education (WTS, NBTS, and MFCA).
  3. 20 percent distributed per capita according to the number of students within each agency who are formally in the Certificate of Fitness for Ministry process.
  4. 5 percent to cover the cost of the meetings of the PFOB, the General Synod professors, and collaborative efforts among the respective agents.

RF 18-3

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order Chapter 1, Part II, Article 11, for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined):

   Sec. 6. The agents of the General Synod shall be guided by the following criteria in granting the Certificate of Fitness of Ministry:

a. Personal faith and evangelism: Demonstrate a mature personal faith in Jesus Christ and commitment and skill in nurturing others to embrace that faith.

b. Call: Demonstrate a life worthy of the gospel, a sense of call to the office of minister of Word and sacrament, an understanding of that office in the Reformed tradition, and a commitment to its responsibilities.

c. Scripture: Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the Scripture (with sufficient Greek and Hebrew to understand nuances of the biblical text), commitment to its authority as Word of God, and insight in its interpretation.

d. History and theology: Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the history and teachings of the Christian church and insight in their interpretation.

e. Reformed tradition: Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of and commitment to Reformed doctrine, government, and worship.

f. Leadership: Demonstrate the skill and understanding required to lead the people of God in faithfulness to their mission.

g. Pastoral care: Demonstrate skill, understanding, and compassion in caring for persons and congregations.

h. Worship and preaching: Demonstrate skill and understanding to lead worship, preach the gospel, and administer the sacraments.

[Subsequent sections renumbered.]

RF 18-4 - Approved

To direct the general secretary to authorize and fund a half-time position, designated as the coordinator for interreligious relations, to facilitate the RCA’s interreligious relations work, including equipping congregations, leaders, and students for missional interreligious engagement; and further,

To conduct the RCA’s interreligious work through a joint committee with the CRCNA, consistent with the Reformed Collaborative. The committee will be comprised of the RCA coordinator for interreligious relations, the RCA ecumenical associate, CRCNA staff, and practitioners and experts in interreligious relations from both the RCA and CRCNA. The joint committee will report its work to the General Synod each year through the Commission on Christian Unity.

Both the position of coordinator for interreligious relations and the joint committee shall be funded for a period of five years, at which time the effectiveness of structuring the RCA’s interreligious work in this manner will be evaluated and the Commission on Christian Unity will bring recommendations to the General Synod regarding whether to continue this structure for interreligious work.

RF 18-5 Approved as amended

That the work of the Five-Fold Test Task Force be concluded, the task force dissolved, and any remaining funds that were set aside to fulfill R-15 and R-16 (2014) be made available to the Commission on Race and Ethnicity for use in increasing awareness, understanding, and use of the Five-Fold Test in furtherance of the RCA commitment to a multicultural future freed from racism.

L 18-1 - Approved

To adopt the following resolution:

These individuals have loved Christ and fed his sheep. They have devoted themselves to spreading the Word and equipping the saints for the work of ministry.

Their contribution to a needy world is rich beyond measure; their record is on high.

The Reformed Church in America, with admiration, deep affection, and overflowing thanks to God, celebrates their lifelong service.

Paul Akers
Whiting, New Jersey

Barbara Alexander
Laurelton, New York

Jhonny Alicea-Báez
Benton, Arkansas

David Bast
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Nancy Beardslee
New Brunswick, New Jersey

Abram Blaak
Brantford, Ontario

Dawn Boelkins
Holland, Michigan

Stephen Breen
Orange City, Iowa

Gerald Davelaar
Seal Beach, California

Marcia Elders
Grandville, Michigan

Kenneth Eriks
Holland, Michigan

Victor Folkert
Conroe, Texas

Robert Gram
Rhinebeck, New York

Shirley Heeg
Shelby, Michigan

Dennis Hietbrink
Sheldon, Iowa

Suzanne Hodges
Springville, New York

Hae Taik Kim
Yaphank, New York

Larry Klaaren
New Lenox, Illinois

Roger Krutz
East Greenbush, New York

George (Chung Chih) Lai
Fair Lawn, New Jersey

Thomas Larkin
Pequannock, New Jersey

Nyla Lewis
Lakeville, Minnesota

Sandra Masters
Laredo, Texas

Nancy McClure-Long
Muskogee, Oklahoma

Philip Noordmans
Clovis, California

Michael Otte
Little Falls, New Jersey

Richard Otterness
Syracuse, New York

John Paarlberg
Loudonville, New York

Daniel Plasman
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Jack Ritsema
Dumont, Iowa

Carlos Rivera
Hempstead, New York

John Schmidt
Holland, Michigan

Peter Semeyn
Westmont, Illinois

Jacqueline Smallbones
Orange City, Iowa

David Su
Elmhurst, New York

Dean Ulmer
Emery, South Dakota

Patricia (Pacia) Vamvas
Savannah, Georgia

Steven Vander Molen
Holland, Michigan

Bruce Van Dusseldorp
Denver, Colorado

David Van Lant
Norwalk, California

Robert Vrooman
Alexandria Bay, New York

Charles Wiessner
Louisburg, North Carolina

Bruce Wilterdink
Beloit, Wisconsin

Mary Wisner
Holland, Michigan

GM 18-1 - Approved

To keep the value of a Partnership in Mission (PIM) share for 2019 at $6,700.

GM 18-2 - Approved

BE IT RESOLVED that the 212th session of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, meeting on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from June 7 through June 12, 2018, gives glory to God for the life and witness of Dick and Carolyn Otterness, Dick and Donna Swart, and Caleb and Joanna Swart and offers a prayer of thanksgiving for their service to RCA Global Mission.

CA 18-1 - Approved

To list Shalem Mental Health Network and the International Institute for Restorative Practices on the RCA website as resources for congregations that are interested in learning about restorative justice and/or hosting restorative practices for their communities.

CA 18-2 - Approved

To urge RCA congregations to access the restorative justice resources listed in this report and to begin discussions in their local faith community about the use of restorative justice in the church and community; and further,

To post the restorative justice resources in this report on the RCA website for easy access for congregations.

CA 18-3 - Approved

To urge congregations, classes, and regional synods to host showings of 30-minute videos and discussion groups provided by the Interfaith Drone Network; and further,

To encourage those concerned about drone warfare to construct a quilt to represent those who have died in drone strikes and to use quilts as a point of discussion about drone warfare; and further,

To invite concerned RCA members to prepare faith-based op-eds and letters to editors for publications.

CA 18-4 - Approved as amended

To direct the general secretary to write a letter to the president of the United States strongly supporting immigration reform and DACA; and further,

To urge congregations to encourage their local politicians to enact legislation that supports immigration reform and DACA.

CA 18-5 - Approved as amended

To direct the general secretary to write a letter to the president of the United States strongly supporting gun safety; and further,

To urge local churches to contact their politicians to advocate for gun safety.

CA 18-6 - Approved

To encourage congregations to use “Speaking Christian” as a tool for discussion and reflection, and to ensure that our speech is gracious, seasoned with salt, and respectful of all we encounter.

DE 18-1 - Approved

To request regional synods, as part of their general superintendence of classes, to develop compensation guidelines that include continuing education allowance of time and money for non-ordained church employees who serve in the teaching ministry of the church, e.g., youth workers and Christian educators.

DE 18-2 - Approved

To direct the General Synod Council to add a question to the annual Consistorial Report Form asking how those who serve within the spiritual formation or teaching arena of the congregation have received ongoing or continuing education that year. The responses gathered shall be shared with the Commission on Christian Discipleship and Education.

DE 18-3 - Referred

To direct the General Synod Council to add a question to the annual Consistorial Report Form that will collect information for those who serve in the spiritual formation, discipleship, and/or teaching ministries of the congregation, in the same manner as information regarding youth ministry leaders is collected (current children’s ministry coordinator/director, adult ministry coordinator/director, etc.); and further,

To make the data available to the Commission on Christian Discipleship and Education for its work of advocating for and monitoring discipleship ministry throughout the Reformed Church in America.

DE 18-4 - Referred

To direct the General Synod Council to create a $5,000 fund for CERCA, to be used at the rate of $500 per year in order to provide for professional and personal growth of RCA educators and youth workers (continuing education scholarships, expenses related to continuing education events, expenses in conjunction with CERCA and APCE meetings, etc.).

DE 18-5 - Approved

To instruct the General Synod Council to provide webpages for CERCA on the RCA website for the purpose of promoting opportunities for improvement of discipleship skills, supporting personal enrichment, advocating for church education, and recognizing the achievements and innovative contributions of church educators.

CO 18-1 - Approved

To adopt the following changes to the Book of Church Order, “Rules and Amendments of The Government of the Reformed Church in America and Disciplinary Procedures,” for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined; deletions are struck):

   Sec 2.

  1. Amendments to the Government, the Disciplinary and Judicial Procedures, the Formularies, and the Liturgy and the Directory for Worship shall be made only upon adoption by the General Synod at a stated meeting, with recommendation to the classes for approval.
  2. At least two-thirds of the classes shall approve a proposed amendment in order to secure its adoption. Only classes whose delegates were eligible to be seated at the General Synod at which the amendment was adopted are eligible to vote on the recommendation for approval.
  3. If an amendment is approved by the classes, the General Synod, at its discretion, may pass a final declarative resolution on the amendment. When the declarative action has taken place, the amendment shall become effective.

CO 18-2 - Approved

To adopt the following changes to the Book of Church Order, Chapter 1, Part III, Article 2, Section 3 (2017 edition, p. 61) and for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined; deletions are struck):

   Sec. 3. The regional synod shall, after reasonable and timely consultation with all parties involved, form, combine, or disband classes. The regional synod, after reasonable and timely consultation with all parties involved, may also transfer churches from one classis to another within its bounds.

   Sec. 3. The regional synod shall, after consultation with the classes and consistories involved, form, combine, or disband classes. All consultations required in this section shall occur at a regular session of each consistory (BCO Chapter 1, Part I, Article 4, Section 2) or a stated or special session of each classis where a quorum is present that meets the requirements of a quorum of a stated session of the classis (BCO Chapter 1, Part II, Article 4, Section 1).

   Sec. 4. The regional synod, after consultation with the classes and the consistory involved, may transfer a church from one classis to another classis within its bounds. All consultations required in this section shall occur at a regular session of each consistory (BCO Chapter 1, Part I, Article 4, Section 2) or a stated or special session of each classis where a quorum is present that meets the requirements of a quorum of a stated session of the classis (BCO Chapter 1, Part II, Article 4, Section 1).

[Remaining section renumbered.]

CO 18-3 - Approved

To adopt the following changes to Formulary No. 5 in the Book of Church Order (2017 edition, pp. 132–133) for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined; deletions are struck):

… As long as you continue to be the minister of this church, we also promise to pay the stipulated contributions to the Reformed Church retirement plan and provide benefits including group life insurance, long-term disability insurance, and medical insurance for you and your immediate family* —which means those dependents eligible for family medical insurance according to the insurance plan documents of the Reformed Benefits Association. Such insurance coverages shall meet or exceed the minimum standards stipulated by the Board of Benefits Services.

If you and your immediate family elect medical coverage through your spouse’s employer-sponsored group plan, we promise will not be required to provide medical insurance to compensate you for any medical premium costs incurred by your immediate family, up to the premium cost of the Reformed Benefits Association plan meeting the minimum standards stipulated for the year compensated.

In addition we promise to provide a minimum of one week and a stipend equal to, not less than, the equivalent of 1/52 of the minimum cash salary established by the classis for a study program mutually agreed upon by you and us for your professional development, for each year in service with our congregation. By mutual agreement this time and money may be accumulated to a maximum equivalent of four years of service.

We hereby bind ourselves and our successors for the performance of all the foregoing by the underwritten signatures of the consistory members to this instrument. May the Lord incline your heart to a cheerful acceptance of this call and send you to us in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of peace.

Done in consistory and subscribed with our names this ___ day of __________________, 20___.

Attested by ___________________________________________________

Supervisor of the call

[Signature lines for all consistory members and the required classis officers must be inserted—see BCO Chapter 1, Part I, Article 2, Section 3 regarding signatures of consistory members and BCO Chapter 1, Part II, Article 15, Section 7 regarding the requirement for classis approval of a call prior to the call being submitted to the minister.] 

CO 18-4 - Referred

To adopt the following changes to the Book of Church Order for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined; deletions are struck):

Chapter 1, Part I

Article 9. Affiliated Churches

   Sec. 1. A consistory or governing body, with approval of its congregation and classis, may affiliate with another denomination with which the Reformed Church in America has an agreement for the orderly exchange of ministers. A consistory or governing body that affiliates with another denomination remains subject to the provisions of the Constitution of the Reformed Church in America.

   Sec. 2. The governing body of a church from a denomination with which the Reformed Church in America has an agreement for the orderly exchange of ministers may affiliate with a classis of the Reformed Church in America upon approval of its congregation, the receiving classis, and the affiliating church’s current denomination/s.

  1. Unless otherwise determined by the receiving classis, delegates from an affiliating church shall be corresponding delegates to the classis.
  2. A minister of an affiliating church shall remain subject to the discipline of the minister’s denomination.
  3. A church that affiliates with the Reformed Church in America remains subject to the governance of its current denomination, unless it is otherwise agreed.

H 18-1 - Approved

That the following resolution be spread across the minutes of this General Synod:

WHEREAS the Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America published its first volume, Ecumenism in the Reformed Church, in 1968, and has since published 97 other volumes to help both the church and the academy engage the story of our history and mission, and

WHEREAS the resources and expertise of the William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company were vital to the early success and growth of the Series, and

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Donald J. Bruggink has faithfully stewarded the growth of this Series and its revolving fund since its inception, and

WHEREAS both Dr. Bruggink and Eerdmans Publishing are now retiring from a half-century of voluntary labors,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 212th General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the 7th through 12th days of June, 2018, hereby offers thanksgiving to God for Donald J. Bruggink and the William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, and lifts up heartfelt prayers for this ministry they have nurtured and their future endeavors; and further,

That the synod rise, in body or spirit, to join in a prayer of thanksgiving.

H 18-2 - Approved

To commend the paper “‘Historic and Faithful Witnesses’: Reflecting on the Standards and How They Have Been Used in the Forms of Declaration and the Church” to all ministers of Word and sacrament, General Synod professors, and licensed candidates for ministry, as well as all classis committees charged with the care and supervision of candidates and ministers.

H 18-3 - Approved

To commend the paper “Ecumenism in the RCA” to all consistories and classes, and to invite them to enter into discussions over the paper, encouraging them to send responses to the questions below to rgasero@rca.org no later than February 1, 2019.

  1. What does it mean that ecumenism has been such a key element to our identity in the past?
  2. How does and should this understanding shape the future ministry of the RCA?
  3. How is your congregation engaging in ecumenical relationships in your community?

RE 18-1

To continue to actively encourage congregations, classes, regional synods, GSC, the racial/ethnic councils, and the commissions to intentionally identify and recruit more racial/ethnic members as candidates to serve on commissions, particularly the Commission on Church Order, the Commission on History, and the Commission on Judicial Business.

TH 18-1 - Approved

To affirm the Reformed principles outlined in the paper “The Nature of Office and Assembly,” that offices are not interchangeable and that the higher assemblies require the specific contributions of those gifted and called to the offices of elder and minister of Word and sacrament.

W 18-1 - Approved

To affirm the #wearespeaking statement; and further,

To encourage that this statement and the subject of harassment, abuse, and sexual violence be used to inform services of worship; to encourage pastors to preach on this topic as well as to care for victims of harassment, abuse, and sexual violence; and to encourage congregations to form study groups to explore and reflect upon this topic.

W 18-2 - Approved as amended

To instruct the GSC to develop and implement a sexual harassment policy and procedures for reporting and responding to incidents; and further,

To enact denomination-wide education and training to include boards, institutions, agencies, commissions, regional synods, classes, consistories, and congregations, reporting back to General Synod 2019 its progress and details of implementation.

W 18-3 - Approved

To urge every classis to have a sexual harassment training in place by General Synod 2019 and to have a plan for sustained accountability through continued education.

TE 18-1 - Approved as amended

To request the Commission on Church Order to offer its interpretation of the word “bounds” in the Book of Church Order, defining specifically its relationship to geographic boundaries and its implications for ethnic classes, for report back to the 2019 General Synod.

TE 18-2

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Renée S. House has taught at New Brunswick Theological Seminary since 1987, serving as director of Gardner A. Sage Library from 1987 to 2005, as associate professor of practical theology from 1996 to 2013, as dean of the seminary from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2008 to 2012, and as adjunct associate professor of practical theology from 2013 until the present, inspiring generations of students as Christian educators, mentoring countless pastors into their ministries in Christ’s church, and nurturing the RCA’s unique and irreplaceable treasury of resources in Sage Library; and

WHEREAS Dr. House has brought her ministry, consistently and enthusiastically, to local congregations throughout her career, through regular preaching and worship leading as well as teaching in local Christian education programs and providing leadership for various and sundry workshops and lay education courses; and

WHEREAS Dr. House has served as a General Synod professor from 2003 to 2005 and again from 2009 until the present, serving not only within the professorate but on multiple commissions, boards, classical committees, and task forces of the RCA, its classes, and its regional synods—for several of them taking on added responsibility as moderator—and as an RCA representative to the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches; and

WHEREAS Dr. House has brought her gifts and insights to other ecumenical dialogues as well as professional associations, community boards, and social service groups, working for justice, peace, and the welfare of all God’s people wherever they may be; and

WHEREAS, since 2013, Dr. House has served as pastor and teacher of Old Dutch Church in Kingston, New York, engaged in leading that congregation in its ministry to bring God’s justice and transformation to all of those living on the margins in that particular corner of this lost and broken world so loved by God; and

WHEREAS Dr. House now seeks to answer the Spirit’s call on her life to devote her full time energy and attention to ministry in that particular role while continuing to offer prayers and encouragement to her colleagues, friends, and family at the seminary she has served for more than three decades,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 212th regular session of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, meeting June 7 through 12, 2018, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, expresses gratitude to God for the life and ministry of Dr. Renée House, along with the deepest gratitude to Dr. House for her ministry among us, and offers its prayers for continued fulfilling ministry and life with her husband, Richard;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the General Synod accept with regret, but with thanks for her service to the seminary, the resignation of the Rev. Dr. Renée House as General Synod professor.

TE 18-3

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Allan Janssen has served the Reformed Church in America as a General Synod professor since 2012; and

WHEREAS Dr. Janssen, who was ordained as a minister of Word and sacrament in the Reformed Church in America in 1973 and served several congregations in the 40 years that followed, has taught at New Brunswick Theological Seminary since 1999, becoming an affiliate faculty member in 2006 and, from that same year, has regularly taught courses through the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency; and

WHEREAS Dr. Janssen has served the Reformed Church in America faithfully on its boards, committees, and commissions and in ecumenical bodies; and

WHEREAS through his teaching, his service on the Commission on Church Order, his publications, and his wise advice in settings formal and informal, Dr. Janssen has earned the church’s deep appreciation for his insights into the Book of Church Order and its value for shaping our ministry and mission; and 

WHEREAS Dr. Janssen, through his teaching and writing as well as through his leadership of New Brunswick Seminary’s biennial International Summer School of Theology in the Netherlands, has introduced many students and others, both in and beyond the Reformed Church in America, to the rich traditions of Dutch theology;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 212th regular session of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, meeting June 7 through 12, 2018, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, expresses its deepest gratitude to Dr. Janssen for his years of service, and offers its prayers for a fulfilling retirement along with his wife, Colleen;

AND BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that the Rev. Dr. Allan Janssen be declared a General Synod professor emeritus as of June 13, 2018.

TE 18-4

To approve the restated bylaws and articles of incorporation of Western Theological Seminary as presented in this report.

N 18-1 - Approved

To elect the above-named nominees to the General Synod commissions and agencies and the boards of directors or trustees of RCA-related educational institutions as indicated.

N 18-2 - Approved

To elect Carl Boersma as moderator of the Commission on Nominations for the 2018–2019 term.