Synod of the United Reformed Churches of North America: Day 3 Report

The United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA) is meeting in Visalia, California for its ninth meeting of Synod, June 2-6, 2014

The delegates gave consideration to a nomination for the position of a mission coordinator.  After careful discussion concerning the role of and nomination for this position, Synod moved to an interview of one nomination for the position, Rev. Richard Bout. After the interview and deliberation, Synod, by significant majority, elected Rev. Richard Bout to be the first missions coordinator of the United Reformed Churches of North America.

 

The third full day of Synod found the morning hours of Synod’s deliberations centering upon discussion on the relationship of the URCNA and the Canadian Reformed Churches (CanRC). Much of the discussion focused upon a recommended proposal to encourage the Committee for Ecumenical Relations and Church Unity (CERCU) to continue “in its plans to recommend to the next Synod that we proceed to Phase Three A of church unity with the Canadian Reformed Churches that, should the churches approve of this recommendation in 2016, they would begin the Development of a Plan of Union.” After careful deliberation, Synod carried a motion to table this recommendation indefinitely. According to the Regulations for Synodical Procedure such an action is used “when synod decides that it wise and prudent to avoid a direct vote on a matter without deciding either positively or negatively” (emphasis added).

Synod also gave careful attention to completing their work in connection to providing honorably for the ministers of the federation while they are both actively serving in their office and when they reach retirement or become disabled. An ad hoc committee that was struck in 2012 Synod Nyack was given a mandate to continue its work focusing study upon financial planning options for retirement and disability for the ministers of the URCNA.

Fraternal greetings continued to mark the sessions of Synod as Rev. Bruce Backensto addressed the delegates on behalf of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA). Encouragement was given for the respective ecumenical labors of the confessional federations within North America in the midst of an increasingly secularized culture. A letter of greeting was also received and read from the Reformed Church of Quebec (ERQ).

A time was taken in the midst of the day to take note of the deaths of three ministers who had served the churches honorably within the federation. Since the last meeting of Synod, it has pleased the Lord to call home the Rev. Rein Leestma, Rev. Arthur Verburg, and Rev. Al Korvemaker. The churches were encouraged to remember their widows and families in prayer.

The work of the missionary labors of the Church of Jesus Christ was also an item dealt with by the Synodical delegates. A previously mandated committee had produced a manual on church planting entitled, “How to Plant a Reformed Church.” Synod received this manual for distribution to the churches recognizing the wealth of material contained therein. In addition to a manual, the delegates also gave consideration to a nomination for the position of a mission coordinator.  After careful discussion concerning the role of and nomination for this position, Synod moved to an interview of one nomination for the position, Rev. Richard Bout. After the interview and deliberation, Synod, by significant majority, elected Rev. Richard Bout to be the first missions coordinator of the United Reformed Churches of North America.

An overture that came to Synod requesting clarification on “the Status of Our Three Forms of Unity” dealt with translations of our confessions, especially the Belgic Confession. Synod did not adopt this overture in light of the on-going work of the Liturgical Forms and Confessions Committee. Synod did encourage the churches to review the various creeds, confessions, prayers and forms in preparation for Synod 2016.

Other items of the day included receiving routine reports from the federation ’s treasurers and Boards of Directors along with electing various functionaries for the federation and setting a budget for the next two years. As the day moved on, the delegates were cheered as the work drew to a close. In one of her final actions, Bethany United Reformed Church, Wyoming, Michigan was appointed to be the convening consistory for Synod 2016. With humble gratitude to the Lord God and words of encouragement from the chairman, and for the first time in the history of the URCNA, Synod adjourned on Thursday evening.

Rev. Greg Lubbers is the Second Clerk of the URCNA Synod meeting in Visalia, Calif.