On September 11-12, 2018, the RCA Vision 2020 Team met at the Cenacle Retreat Center in Chicago.
On September 11-12, 2018, the RCA Vision 2020 Team met at the Cenacle Retreat Center in Chicago. At the General Synod meeting this past summer, this team was charged with identifying and exploring possible scenarios, strategies, and consequences for these future options for the Reformed Church in America: (1) staying together; (2) radical reconstituting and reorganization; (3) grace-filled separation. In their September meeting, the team acknowledged that while each of these scenarios is disruptive and involve change and loss, there is yet the possibility for a hopeful way forward.
This is a simple summary of the work that was done in that meeting.
Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor were present as the new consultants to this process. Jim and Trisha have worked as a team for more than 20 years and have been involved with the RCA in a variety of ways since 2006. They are authors, consultants and conference speakers who have worked with congregations and denominational groups across the USA and Canada in strategy planning, conflict resolution, and leadership development.
The team began the meeting by reminding themselves that the church has had disagreements and conflict since as far back as the book of Acts. It is the nature of being the people of God that finding a way forward in the face of conflict must be done with a commitment to hold Christ at the center and to approach one another with patience, mutual respect, and persistence.
Building on the progress made when they met in August, the team continued to work on becoming a more cohesive unit, agreeing on key assumptions, identifying the skill sets and specialties that each person contributes, discussing the enormity of the task and ways it can be divided up, grappling with a mandate that they know will disrupt the status quo, considering the pacing of their timeline, and beginning to construct a framework for scenario-planning.
Part of their time together was spent processing the grief, the anxiety, the hope and the anticipation they feel as a result of their involvement in a process that will necessarily involve radical change. They also discussed how to make space within the broader RCA for more people to express their thoughts and feelings about the place in which we find ourselves, and the future into which we move. Comfort was found in the theme of death and resurrection – the Good News of Jesus Christ who is the hope of this process, of the church, and of the world.
While team-dynamics and trust-building will be an ongoing part of the group’s work, they have agreed that their November meeting will mark the beginning of a deep-dive into the three (or more) scenarios recommended by General Synod, including an exploration of the five to ten-year implications of these scenarios for congregations, classes, mission partners and for the denomination at large. This will involve consultation with experts, qualitative and quantitative data gathering from across the RCA. It will also involve synthesizing that data into a future narrative. From that work we hope to build consensus on a recommendation to make to General Synod 2020.
The Vision 2020 Team shares this statement:
“We are mindful of the weight of the task we have been given, the conflicted views that are held across our beloved denomination, the short timeline we have to work with, and the high expectations for an acceptable outcome. Each of us feels a call to this team because of our love for God and our love for the church, but enters into the work with trembling. That said, we are also mindful that Christ is the head of the Church, that God is at work in the RCA even in this moment, and the Spirit will lead us forward into a faithful future… if we but listen. We plead with you to pray for us and for this work. To God be the glory.”
Vision 2020 Team