After being approved by the General Synod in October 2021, team members were appointed by the General Synod Council (GSC) by late January 2022. The team’s make-up is in accordance with the instructions from the General Synod: “a team of between 10 and 15 people, including several executive RCA staff members, and of representatives from around the RCA drawn from regional or local assemblies that have expressed an intention to remain in the Reformed Church in America, and should be representative of the racial, ethnic, gender, age, socio-economic, geographic, and other forms of diversity present in the RCA.” See who’s on the team.
For the first year, the team focused on spiritual discernment, gaining clarity and unity around where they believed God was calling the denomination to restructure for the future. As they engaged in a process of group discernment using the work of Ruth Haley Barton in her book Pursuing God’s Will Together, the team realized that in order to restructure, they must first know what outcomes that the proposed restructure needs to produce. The focus statement that the team believes God is calling the RCA to produce is “growing disciples who participate in God’s reign throughout the world.”
Since discerning that focus statement, the team’s process has included many feedback loops.
From October to December 2022, the team held Zoom calls with classis and regional leaders to get their feedback on this focus of growing disciples. From January to April 2023, the team held a series of in-person roundtable gatherings to share the team’s work so far and to gather feedback. These meetings were held around the U.S. and Canada, along with one Zoom call in May.
The team took into account research and guidance from the Vision 2020 Team as well as feedback from General Synod 2021 and 2022, various roundtable and Zoom meetings, and communications the team has received.
At General Synod in June 2023, the team shared a rough draft of three proposals. Delegates spent time discussing the proposals in small groups and in a plenary session, providing feedback to the team.
The team is utilizing the feedback it has received from the spring roundtables and from General Synod to refine its draft proposals. It will host another series of roundtable events this fall to gather feedback on that second draft of proposals, which will later be refined further. The team expects to present its final proposals to General Synod 2024. Based on what, if anything, is approved at General Synod, the Commission on Church Order will develop proposed changes to the Book of Church Order, which would most likely come to General Synod 2025 for consideration (though the commission may propose some initial changes in 2024). The restructuring team is already consulting with the Commission on Church Order, and the commission is participating in exploratory work related to the draft proposals.