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RCA Vision 2020 FAQ

Why is there an “updated” final Vision 2020 Report? Wasn’t the report the team published in June 2020 their final report?

This is not an entirely new report, but rather an updated and more complete version of the report published in June 2020. When the Vision 2020 Team published its report in June 2020, the team made clear within the report that further work still needed to be done around the third recommendation. This work would be done in the time between June 2020 and the next meeting of the General Synod. This update was necessary since recommendation text was not included in the initial final report – it was simply an outline of what the team planned to propose, and the specifics of what General Synod would be asked to vote on still needed to be developed in consultation with the Commission on Church Order (CCO). 

These are the things that have changed in the updated version of the Vision 2020 Team’s final report:

  • Replacement of the original draft proposal for the third recommendation with the actual recommendation text, developed in collaboration with the CCO.
  • Addition of a new prologue to reflect on the passage of an additional year.
  • Updates to dates and similar references to ensure clarity now that a year has passed (for example, a sentence that read “In the first half of this year” in the June 2020 report would now read, “In the first half of 2020”). 

What’s next?

The global pandemic has changed the timeline for deciding on this report. Rather than publishing the report a month before General Synod, it will have been out for well over a year. RCA general secretary Eddy Alemán encouraged the denomination to spend that time in earnest prayer. That time has also given ample opportunity for discussion. In June 2020, the Vision 2020 Team released a discussion guide along with its report; it can be used individually, with a group of friends, or with your congregation.

The updated version of the final report (which includes the final text of the generous exit recommendation), published in July 2021, will be included in the 2021 General Synod Workbook, which will be published a month before synod, and the team’s three recommendations will be considered and voted on at General Synod in October. 

Why don’t the Vision 2020 recommendations contain a definitive statement regarding the disagreement over human sexuality?

The Vision 2020 Team’s charge from General Synod 2018 was to identify and explore 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 (See Minutes of the General Synod 2018, pp. 152-153). 

In the team’s communication following its October 2019 meeting, they stated, “Our team’s role is not to define the RCA’s stance on human sexuality or other differences of conviction but to recommend a way forward in light of our functional diversity.” (They later moved away from the language of “functional diversity,” instead referring to being “defined and connected.” For further explanation, see the team’s January 2020 update.) 

In short, the team’s mandate was not to create a definitive theological statement regarding the disagreement over human sexuality, but to recommend a structural way forward in light of that disagreement.

How has the team gotten feedback on their ideas?

The Vision 2020 Team’s report to General Synod 2019 outlined a number of possible future scenarios, which they asked delegates to spend time with, discuss, and discern. Feedback was collected and synthesized by the Vision 2020 Team. The team has also solicited feedback from RCA members and leaders through two denomination-wide surveys, has met with leaders from numerous RCA institutions and committees, and has received numerous emails from church leaders.

The Vision 2020 Team has been giving regular updates, but this mission agency idea is new. Where did that come from?

The Vision 2020 Team began its work by considering three scenarios: staying together, radical reorganization, and graceful separation. As the Vision 2020 Team was evaluating scenario 3 for graceful separation, they recognized that two things are abundantly clear: one, the option of a gracious separation is a necessity, and two, there are multiple and complex issues to address for those who remain in the RCA. This shaped the team’s work to include more nuance and to address the needs of those who may separate as well as the needs of those who remain.

Back in October 2019, the team began to coalesce around the idea of being defined and connected—of holding tight to core beliefs such as the RCA’s Standards of Unity, and acknowledging differences of opinion on other things, yet staying connected in spite of those differences. In light of feedback it received, the team determined that being defined and connected will look different in different parts of the church. Ultimately, the mission agency recommendation grew from these discussions.

Why is there a minority report?

In its final year, the Vision 2020 Team was working on a consensus model of decision making. Ultimately, they could not reach consensus on one of their recommendations. The two team members who did not support that recommendation shared their perspective in the minority report.