Commissioned pastors may soon be able to serve as delegates to classes, regional synods, and General Synod.

On Friday night synod voted to direct the Commission on Church Order to propose changes to the Book of Church Order (BCO) that would allow commissioned pastors to serve as delegates to General Synod and regional synods.

Commissioned pastors are elders who are individually commissioned for a specific ministry need; they have completed a training and study program approved by the classis in which they serve.

Synod’s action came in response to a recommendation by synod’s Special Advisory Committee on Church Order and Governance based on overtures from the Classes of Holland, South Grand Rapids, the Southwest, and Zeeland.

The advisory committee reasoned that 1) commissioned pastors are covenantal partners in the ministry of the Reformed Church in America, and we need to hear their voices in our gathered assemblies, and 2) that inclusion in the higher assemblies would invite commissioned pastors to fully embrace their role and fulfill the responsibilities with which they have been charged.

In approving the advisory committee’s recommendation, synod also directed the commission to pay particular attention to the Classis of the Southwest’s proposed addition to BCO Chapter 1, Part IV, Article 1: “A classis shall not have more than one of its elder delegates be an elder who is also a commissioned pastor within that classis.”

Synod directed the Commission on Church Order to bring the proposed BCO changes to General Synod 2015.