As a Vision 2020 Team, we met April 20–21, 2020, by Zoom videoconferencing to continue our work of discernment regarding the future of the RCA. We greatly missed our teammate Barbara Felker, who, as a hospital administrator in New York, was unable to join us.
At our September, October, and January meetings, our team came to consensus and has been working toward a proposal about being defined and connected. Being defined—holding firmly to beliefs and convictions with one hand—still leaves one hand available to reach out and connect others.
For people who are defined and choose to stay connected within the RCA, we are discussing options for how best to structure the RCA moving forward. For people who choose to be defined and not stay connected within the RCA, we are preparing recommendations that will provide for a mutually generous exit.
Our team has received a high volume of feedback from the wider denomination since announcing the broad outlines of our intended proposal. We believe that discernment happens in community, so we’ve been carefully reviewing this feedback.
At this meeting, we spent the bulk of our time considering the restructuring part of our proposal—exploring what the connection might look like for people who choose to be defined and stay connected. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, and this pandemic has forced us to think about a lot of things: how do we be the church? How are we connecting? It’s already different, and this context fueled our conversation as we considered how we will connect in the future.
We listened to each other. We took time in prayer and solitude. Together, we identified new possible options for the future structure of the RCA and began to evaluate which are most viable.
In these conversations, we got really present to the reality of what faces the RCA, regardless of what we choose. All along, we’ve said that the RCA as we know it no longer exists. Now that reality is sinking in. We recognize that we’re not able to fix what’s broken, that nothing we propose will make everyone happy, and there will be loss. The loss is more real than ever before.
We sat with this loss together. We also spent time imagining what a hopeful future looks like as we think about what needs to shift for a denomination in the 21st century to engage more faithfully and boldly in God’s kingdom work. There was real energy in this conversation as we sensed the Spirit doing something new.
As we steward the Vision 2020 process to its conclusion, our team is mindful of the implications for our RCA family, for our churches, and for ourselves. We’re wrestling with this. Here are the next steps we are taking, leaning on the Holy Spirit.
Our team will continue to meet weekly on Fridays to continue refining our proposals for RCA structure and mutually gracious separation. We will finalize those proposals and finish writing our final report. Because General Synod has been postponed, the General Synod Council has given us an extension for our report, which we will now submit in mid-June.
The General Synod Council has called a special session of the General Synod this fall to consider the report of the Vision 2020 Team. (If the pandemic is still widespread in the fall, the report will be considered at General Synod in June 2021.)
Please pray for us over the next eight weeks as we draw our two years of work to a conclusion. Thank God for the presence of the Spirit that we experienced at this meeting. Pray for wisdom, for discernment, for peace, for courage, and for the clear guidance of the Holy Spirit for our team. Pray for our beloved denomination as it gets ready to receive this report and discuss and decide on next steps.
Vision 2020 Team
Eddy Alemán, ex officio
Diane Smith Faubion
Don Poest, ex officio