General Synod Council, Meeting alongside Commissions, Focuses on the Future
The General Synod Council (GSC) met October 12 to 15, 2012, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The GSC serves the General Synod and assemblies of the RCA as the program agent for mission and ministry and as the General Synod's executive committee.
The General Synod Commissions on Christian Unity, Women, History, Christian Action, Theology, Christian Discipleship and Education, Race and Ethnicity, Church Order, Nominations, and Christian Worship met at the same time, a practice begun several years ago to encourage collaboration among commissions and between the commissions and GSC.
The cooperation and interaction between the commissions and the GSC continue to be valuable, both as a community-building element of the fall meetings and as the commissions and GSC look toward the reports and recommendations that will be brought to the General Synod in June.
R-28 "Way Forward" Committee Formed
As approved by General Synod 2012 in R-56 (R-28), the GSC formed an eight-person committee with one representative appointed by each of the regional synods. The committee's charge is to pray and work together for a way forward for our denomination given the disagreement in our body about homosexuality. This committee will bring a report with practical recommendations to the 2013 General Synod. Committee members are Marilyn Paarlberg, Albany; Carol Mutch, Mid-Atlantics; Mark Mast, New York; Rick Veenstra, Great Lakes; Ron Citlau, Mid-America; David Van Ningen, Heartland; Craig Gilbert, Far West; and Peter Burrill, Canada. Tony Vis will serve as a resource person for the committee. The group has had an initial conference call to begin their work; please keep them in your prayers.
GSC Continues Review, Relationship, and Support of Commissions
The bylaws of the GSC call for a review of all General Synod commissions at least once every five years. The GSC took time to review both the work and relationship of each commission with a focus on supporting, strengthening, and coordinating the work of the commissions. A subcommittee of the GSC will continue to work on the process to review and include commissions in the mission and ministry in the RCA.
Discovery Process Continues throughout Denomination
The GSC reviewed the ongoing Discovery process and input coming from all areas of the denomination. Discovery events offer an opportunity for RCA members who attend to share where they hear God calling the RCA. These events began on September 22 and are being held at 22 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. The schedule can be found on www.rca.org/discovery. The GSC will receive feedback from each event that will help us discern the future to which God is calling us.
GSC Reviews Racial-Ethnic Council Recommendations
A number of GSC members met with representatives of the racial-ethnic councils to review recommendations from the councils. This subcommittee, along with the councils, shared the amended recommendations with the GSC and directed the general secretary to work with the councils to act on the recommendations.
GSC Affirms General Secretary's Leadership of the RCA
The GSC received and discussed the report of its relationship and review committee, the standing committee established to review the work of the general secretary. The GSC affirmed the leadership of Tom De Vries as general secretary. The session included an opportunity for direct conversation with Tom and concluded with a time of prayer. The GSC's responsibility in this regard is to evaluate the general secretary's performance in all areas of his work as well as his performance within the General Synod Council.
Other GSC Business
- Received and approved executive limitations reports provided by the general secretary. These annual reports are one means used by GSC to hold accountable the general secretary and GSC staff charged with responsibility for carrying out the "ends" (purposes) defined by GSC in response to the directives of the General Synod.
- Future meetings: March 18-21, 2013, and General Synod, June 20-25.