General Synod 2019: Recommendations

The following is a list of recommendations as presented in the General Synod workbook. Unofficial updates on the actions of synod will be placed here during the meeting. Please note that these actions should not be considered official until the Minutes are posted later in the summer.

** Amendments and substitutes made at synod are not included below.

Longer recommendations are shortened here (indicated by "..."). For full recommendations, please consult the workbook.

 

Recommendations to General Synod 2019

 

EC 19-1 - Adopted

To approve the agenda and schedule of the General Synod as presented in the General Synod Workbook.

 

EC 19-2 - Adopted

To declare Amendment 1 to be approved for incorporation into the 2019 Book of Church Order.

 

EC 19-3 - Adopted

To declare Amendment 2 to be approved for incorporation into the 2019 Book of Church Order.

 

EC 19-4 - Adopted

To declare Amendment 3 to be approved for incorporation into the 2019 Book of Church Order.

 

EC 19-5 - Adopted

To appoint Jillisa Teitsma as treasurer of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America.

 

EC 19-6 - Not adopted

To discontinue the Commission on Christian Discipleship and Education by adopting the following changes to the Bylaws of the General Synod in the Book of Church Order, for recommendation to General Synod 2020 for final approval  ...

 

EC 19-7 - Adopted

To approve the continuation of the Commission on Church Order; and further,

To commend the CCO for its very important work toward good order in the Reformed Church in America.

 

EC 19-8 - Adopted

To transfer Jusarang Church and Disciple Church of Atlanta, both in Suwanee, Georgia, with all their assets and liabilities, from the Classis of Zeeland, Regional Synod of the Great Lakes, to the Classis of Greater Palisades, Regional Synod of the Mid-Atlantics.

 

EC 19-9 - Adopted

To replace the current per-member General Synod assessment funding method with covenant shares, a funding method based on a percentage of income. Under this funding method, each classis will contribute a flat percentage of the contributions received by each church within its bounds to support the work of the denomination.

The General Synod will annually approve the percentage rate that classes will be charged for the following calendar year. The basis of the percentage rate will be contributions as reported on the Consistorial Report Form as of December 31 of the previous year.

The GSC will calculate the amount due from each classis based on the total contributions received by each church within its bounds, multiplied by the General Synod–approved percentage rate. The change in the total dollar amount of a church’s covenant shares from year to year will be limited to no more than 10 percent, either up or down, over the previous year’s assessments or covenant shares. 

 

EC 19-10 - Adopted

To instruct the General Synod Council to name a covenant shares review committee to evaluate any specific significant issues relating to the new method during the first three years under the new covenant shares method. The committee shall also re-evaluate all aspects of the new covenant shares method after three years of collections have taken place under the new method. This committee will report significant issues and make recommendations to the GSC as it deems necessary. The committee will not have any authority to approve requests for relief from paying covenant shares nor will it have authority to adjust the methodology of covenant shares. 

This committee shall have at least four (and not more than seven) members, one of whom shall be the General Synod treasurer.

 

EC 19-11 - Adopted

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order, for submission to the 2020 General Synod for final approval ...

 

F 19-1 - Adopted

To approve the General Synod Council 2020 assessment of $46.10 per confessing member.

 

F 19-2 - Adopted

To approve the 2020 assessment of $2.00 per confessing member for the Board of Benefits Services to provide assistance funding for retired pastors who have a demonstrated need.

 

F 19-3 - Adopted

To approve the 2020 assessment of $6.12 per confessing member for theological education, to be allocated in the following manner: 

  • An initial $75,000 given to the MFCA to cover expenses and to account for their lack of ability to raise funds compared to an educational institution.
  • 75 percent of the remaining funds are to be split evenly among the three agents for theological education (WTS, NBTS, and MFCA).
  • 20 percent distributed per capita of students within each agency who are formally in the Certificate of Fitness for Ministry process.
  • 5 percent to cover the cost of the meeting of the PFOB, the General Synod professors, and collaborative efforts among the respective agents.

 

EC 19-12 - Adopted

WHEREAS, the Rev. Dr. Kenneth Eriks pastored local churches for more than 30 years, and then brought that experience and wisdom to the denomination when he joined staff as coordinator of revitalization; and

WHEREAS, Ken shifted responsibilities from revitalization to congregational mission to transformational engagement to special projects, ably demonstrating his flexibility and leadership; and

WHEREAS, during his 14 years on denominational staff, Ken championed renewal, raised up leaders, and worked tirelessly to expand opportunities for the denomination, pastors, and staff;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the 213th regular session of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, meeting in Holland, Michigan, offers thanks to God for Ken Eriks and his years of faithful service.

 

RF 19-1 - Adopted

To adopt the following bylaws for the Pastoral Formation Oversight Board (PFOB), to be effective as of July 1, 2019 ...

 

L 19-1 - Adopted

To adopt the following resolution:

These individuals have loved Christ and fed his sheep. They have devoted themselves to spreading the Word and equipping the saints for the work of ministry.

Their contribution to a needy world is rich beyond measure; their record is on high.

The Reformed Church in America, with admiration, deep affection, and overflowing thanks to God, celebrates their lifelong service. ...

 

GM 19-1 - Adopted

To increase the value of a Partnership in Mission (PIM) share to $6,800 for 2020.

 

GM 19-2 - Adopted

Let it be resolved that the 213th session of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, meeting on the campus of Hope College in Holland, Michigan, from June 6 through June 11, 2019, gives glory to God for the life and witness of David and Charlene Alexander, James and Beth Harrison, Jeffery and Chelsea Lampen, Harry and Pat Miersma, and Karen Bogerd and offers a prayer of thanksgiving for their service to RCA Global Mission.

 

BBS 19-1 - Adopted

To approve incorporation of The Board of Benefits Services of the Reformed Church in America, Inc., a Michigan nonprofit membership corporation; and further,

To approve the adoption by Jillisa Teitsma, as incorporator, of the Articles of Incorporation and to approve the bylaws for The Board of Benefits Services of the Reformed Church in America, Inc.; and further,

To consent to the transfer of all operations of The Board of Benefits Services of the Reformed Church in America, a New York not-for-profit corporation (including without limitation all assets, liabilities, and contract rights) to The Board of Benefits Services of the Reformed Church in America, Inc., a Michigan nonprofit membership corporation, with the transfer to occur at a time and in a manner established by the boards of directors of The Board of Benefits Services of the Reformed Church in America, a New York not-for-profit corporation, and The Board of Benefits Services of the Reformed Church in America, Inc., a Michigan nonprofit membership corporation.

 

DE 19-1 - Adopted

To direct the General Synod Council to add a section to the annual Consistorial Report Form that will collect the same information for those who serve in the spiritual formation, discipleship, and/or teaching ministries of the congregation as that which is currently collected for youth ministry leaders; and further,

To make the data available to the Commission on Christian Discipleship and Education for its work of advocating for and monitoring discipleship ministry throughout the Reformed Church in America. 

 

DE 19-2 - Adopted

To direct the General Synod Council to create a $10,000 fund for CERCA, to be used at the rate of $1,000 per year, in order to provide for professional and personal growth of those working in RCA education and discipleship ministries (continuing education scholarships, expenses related to continuing education events, etc.). RCA staff will make decisions on applications for funds in collaboration with the Commission on Christian Discipleship and Education.

And further, to approve the $0.08 per member assessment to fund this initiative.

 

CU 19-1 - Adopted

To commend the video “The Christian Unity Project” to regional synods, classes, and consistories, encouraging them to use this video as a stimulant for discussion as they seek to follow Christ’s call to unity and to listen to the perspectives of our emerging leaders of today and tomorrow about the importance of Christian unity.

 

CO 19-1 - Adopted as amended

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order for recommendation to the classes for approval ...

 

CO 19-2 - Adopted

To advise regional synods to be guided by the following policies in forming, combining, and disbanding of classes and the transfer of churches between classes:

  1. Classes should be created, maintained, and structured so that they can fulfill their primary calling—guidance and governance.
  2. Ethnic classes should be formed only after prayerful discernment and with caution.
  3. The creation and structure of classes should seek to maintain the unity, purity, and peace of the church.
  4. Classes should be created, maintained, and structured so that all the gifts of congregations can be fully received.

 

CO 19-3 - Adopted

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order, Chapter 1, Part II, Article 15, Section 13a (2018 edition, p. 56) for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined; deletions are stricken):

a.  A person who has been ordained to the office of minister may voluntarily relinquish the office by demission, but only after application to, and with the consent of, the classis of which the personminister is a member. The classis, having fulfilled its pastoral responsibility insofar as feasible, may declare the person to have demitted the office of minister and, if so declared, shall remove the name of the member from the roll of classis and, if requested, transfer the person to the membership and care of a local church. A request from a minister to transfer to another denomination is an application for demission, which, following the classis’s consent, shall be deemed effective upon reception by the other denomination.

 

CO 19-4 - Adopted

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order, Chapter 1, Part IV, Article 2, Section 3 (2018 edition, p. 67) for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined):

   Sec. 3. The General Synod shall form, combine, or disband regional synods. It may make changes in their boundaries, and may transfer classes and churches from one regional synod to another.

 

CO 19-5 - Adopted

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order, Formulary No. 3 (2018 edition, pp. 132–133) for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined; deletions are stricken):

(This Declaration shall be made orally by the candidate in the presence of the classis at the time of ordination or installationreception into the classis. The newly ordained or installedreceived Minister of Word and Sacrament shall then sign a book containing the declaration, which shall be maintained as a permanent record of the classis.)

 

CO 19-6 - Adopted

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order for recommendation to the classes for approval ...

 

CO 19-7 - Adopted

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order, Formulary No. 9 (2018 edition, p. 138) for recommendation to the classes for approval ...

 

CO 19-8 - Adopted

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order, Chapter 1, Part II, Article 15, Section 9 (2018 edition, p. 55) for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined; deletions are stricken):

   Sec. 9. A minister who moves from the bounds of one classis into another shall request a Certificate of DismissionTransfer (Formulary No. 9) from the classis where membership is held. The Certificate of Dismission shall be presented prior to the approval of the minister for reception into the new classis. That classis shall notify the sending classis when a minister is received.

 

CO 19-9 - Adopted

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order, Chapter 1, Part I, Article 1, Section 1 (2018 edition, p. 11) for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined; deletions are stricken):

. . . similarly to both a consistory and a board of elders. For purposes of Formulary No. 15, a member church is an organizing church, a local church, or a collegiate church.

 

CO 19-10 - Adopted as amended

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order, Chapter 1, Part II, Article 13, Section 6 (2018 edition, p. 50) for recommendation to the classes for approval (additions are underlined; deletions are stricken):

   Sec. 6. A licensed candidate who seeks ordination in a classis other than the classis with jurisdiction over the candidate’s church shall requestapply for a Certificate of Transfer (Formulary No. 17)certificate of dismission as a licensed candidate to that classis. The transfercertificate shall be granted if the candidate is in good standing. When the candidate is received under care by signing the Declaration for Licensed Candidates, the new classis shall notify the sending classis.

 

CO 19-11 - Adopted

To adopt the following amendments to the Book of Church Order for recommendation to the classes for approval ...

 

H 19-1 - Adopted

To commend the paper “History of Funding for the General Synod,” to the executive committees or equivalent bodies in all regional synods and classes and to all consistories; and further,

To instruct all General Synod Council members, the general secretary, the treasurer, and any other staff whom the general secretary deems appropriate to read this paper and schedule time for discussion no later than October 2019.

 

H 19-2 - Adopted

To instruct the Commission on Christian Unity to explore possibilities for repentance and reconciliation, being particularly attentive to the ways in which our ecumenical partners have pursued rapprochement with Anabaptists, and report back to General Synod 2021.  

 

TH 19-1 - Adopted as amended

To decline to receive the “Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality” as a “catechism”; and further,

To change the name of the “Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality” to the “Great Lakes Teaching Tool on Marriage and Sexuality” in all future denominational references.


W 19-1 - Adopted

To adopt the following amendment to the Book of Church Order, for submission to the 2020 General Synod for final approval (additions are underlined; deletions are stricken):

Chapter 3, Part I, Article 5

   Sec. 10 Commission for Women

  1. Membership

The commission shall have eight members. All members shall share a strong desire to work for the full and complete participation of women in realizing the vision of a church and society inclusive of all gifts of all persons. At least tTwo members shall be men.

 

TE 19-1 - Adopted

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Tom Boogaart, who was ordained as a minister of Word and sacrament in the Reformed Church in America in 1982 and served in a variety of ways throughout his years of ministry; and

WHEREAS he has served the Reformed Church in America as a General Synod professor since 1990 and

WHEREAS Dr. Boogaart has served the Reformed Church in America faithfully on its boards, committees, and commissions and in ecumenical bodies; and

WHEREAS Dr. Boogaart has contributed in very significant ways to the life of Western Theological Seminary, ushering in a dramatically new way of teaching Hebrew utilizing orality and performance, in addition to carrying a full teaching load over many years; and

WHEREAS Dr. Boogaart has also helped the seminary to develop a number of other programs that have been extremely important in the life of the school, including the Community Kitchen and the Bridge;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the 213th regular session of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, meeting on the campus of Hope College in Holland, Michigan, from June 6–11, 2019, expresses its deepest gratitude to Dr. Boogaart for his years of service, and offers its prayers for a fulfilling retirement along with his wife, Judy;

AND BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that the Rev. Dr. Tom Boogaart be declared a General Synod professor emeritus as of June 11, 2019.

 

TE 19-2 - Adopted

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Timothy Brown has served as president of Western Theological Seminary from 2008 to 2019; and

WHEREAS during his tenure 565 people have embarked into gospel ministry after earning degrees at Western, and the seminary has added a Master of Arts degree and a Graduate Certificate in Disability and Ministry while revamping the Doctor of Ministry and Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Ministry programs; and 

WHEREAS under his leadership the seminary’s enrollment has steadily increased while the majority of North American seminaries are in enrollment decline, and the seminary faculty has been strengthened during his presidency by the addition of several outstanding pastor-theologians; and

WHEREAS the seminary’s campus has been beautifully transformed, first by the stunning renovation of Mulder Chapel and more recently by the construction of the Richard and Ethie Haworth Leadership Center and Jack and Mary DeWitt Learning Center; and

WHEREAS the completion of the recent Our New Day Capital Campaign exceeded its funding goals and the construction costs of the new additions have all been covered; and

WHEREAS the seminary has become a much more diverse institution under Tim’s leadership through several key personnel hires and the establishment of the Hispanic Ministry Program; and

WHEREAS Tim and his wife, Nancy, have graciously hosted endless numbers of students, faculty, staff, trustees, and donors in their home during the eleven years of his presidency; and

WHEREAS Tim has been a tireless preacher and pastor, traversing the country repeatedly for the sake of the seminary and the Reformed Church in America, a relentless encourager and teacher of preaching to thousands of students, and a wonderful exemplar of the power of interiorizing scripture and letting a text work on the preacher before the preacher works on the text;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the 213th regular session of the General Synod, meeting June 6–11, 2019, in Holland, Michigan, sincerely and wholeheartedly offers its thanks to God for the ministry of the Rev. Dr. Timothy Brown as president of Western Theological Seminary and prays that God will richly and abundantly bless his continuing ministry as he returns to teaching at Western Theological Seminary.

 

ONB 19-1 - Adopted

To urge RCA institutions, congregations, and members to take immediate steps to begin to reduce fossil fuel consumption and transition to renewable energy; and further,

To direct the General Synod Council, in conjunction with the Advocacy initiative, to develop a means for gathering information and sharing stories to help encourage and equip RCA institutions, congregations, and members to take steps to reduce fossil fuel consumption; and further,

To instruct the Commission on Christian Action, in consultation with the Global Mission team and the General Synod Council, to prepare a preliminary assessment of the effects of projected climate change (sea level rise, increasing frequency of extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, food shortages, the growing number of environmental refugees, etc.) on RCA congregations, mission facilities, and programs and to suggest measures for addressing these challenges; and further,

To instruct the Commission on Christian Action to review the previous 1993 Christian Action report, “Global Warming,” and the 1999 report, “Climate Change Update,” and to report to the General Synod in 2020 with additional recommendations for resources and actions to help the church more faithfully care for God’s creation and be a bold and compassionate witness in a time of environmental and social crisis.

 

ONB 19-2 - Adopted

To deny Overture 3.

 

ONB 19-3 - Adopted

To deny Overture 5.

 

ONB 19-4 - Adopted

To create a volunteer-driven RCA media channel, hosted on commercial sites such as YouTube and Facebook, the purpose of which is to make content created by RCA entities publicly available for the advancement of the cause of Christ; and further,

To form a committee of interested volunteers, led by James Nakakihara, to drive and maintain this project at no cost to the denomination.

 

ONB 19-5 - Adopted

To instruct the Commission on Theology, in consultation with the Commission on History and the professorate, to prepare or recommend a study on postmodernism and its history, beliefs, and relationship to Christianity as a resource for churches to understand the world we live in and to help devise ways to reach people for Christ who are living under this prevailing philosophy, for report to General Synod 2021.

To instruct the Commission on Theology, in consultation with the Commission on History and the professorate, to prepare or recommend a study on postmodernism and its history, beliefs, and relationship to Christianity as a resource for churches to understand the world we live in and to help devise ways to reach people for Christ who are living under this prevailing philosophy, for report to General Synod 2021.

 

N 19-1 - Adopted

To elect the above-named nominees to the General Synod commissions, agencies, and the boards of directors or trustees of RCA-related educational institutions as indicated.

 

N 19-2 - Adopted

To elect Carl Boersma as moderator of the Commission on Nominations for the 2019–2020 term.

 

New Business ITEM #1 - Adopted
 
To not accept as new business the item concerning the establishment of an Office of Older Adult Ministry.

 

New business ITEM #2 - Adopted

To encourage that each classis and regional synod strongly consider sending the same pastor and elder delegates to General Synod in 2020 as were sent to General Synod in 2019. 
 

New business ITEM #3 - Adopted 

Amendments page 75

Current text: The Newly Adopted 2019 Version; (MGS 2018, CO 18-1, pp. 257–258)

Sec. 2.

a. Amendments to the Government, the Disciplinary and Judicial Procedures, the Formularies, and the Liturgy and the Directory for Worship shall be made only upon adoption by the General Synod at a stated meeting, with recommendation to the classes for approval.

b. At least two-thirds of the classes shall approve a proposed amendment in order to secure its adoption, except as provided in subparagraph c. Only classes whose delegates were eligible to be seated at the General Synod at which the amendment was adopted are eligible to vote on the recommendation for approval.

c. A majority of the classes shall approve any proposed amendment needed to implement the 2020 General Synod’s response to the Vision 2020 Team’s final report in order to secure its adoption. Only classes whose delegates were eligible to be seated at the General Synod at which the amendment was adopted are eligible to vote on the recommendation for approval. This subparagraph c. shall only apply to amendments approved at or before General Synod 2023.

d. If an amendment is approved by the classes, the General Synod, at its discretion, may pass a final declarative resolution on the amendment. When the declarative action has taken place, the amendment shall become effective.