Highlights of the 271st Synod of the Reformed Church in the U.S., May 15–18, 2017
On Monday, the delegates gathered together for worship at Northland Reformed Church in Kansas City, Missouri. The Rev. Paul Henderson led the service while Rev. Robert Grossmann preached a sermon on Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone). This was the first in a series of messages on the five solas of the Reformation in celebration of its 500th anniversary. The day was concluded with the roll call of present pastor and elder delegates of Synod.
On Tuesday, the day began with singing of the famous Reformation hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” with a morning devotion by Rev. Eric Bristley on Solus Christus (Christ Alone). In the organization of Synod, the following officers were elected: Rev. Frank Walker was elected as President, Rev. Kyle Sorensen elected as Vice President, and Rev. David Fagrey elected as Stated Clerk of Synod. Rev. Sorensen was later elected as the editor of the Reformed Herald. Rev. David Irwin was received as a new minister of the RCUS who is currently pastoring at Salem Reformed Church in Ashley, ND. The President’s Report was read, addressing the state of the church. On a sad note, the RCUS has experienced recent loss. These losses include a closure of two congregations and the death of three ministers and seven elders. Despite the losses, “the various Classes emphasized that the church is at peace, so is our Synod…let us praise God for His continuing mercy to us!”
Three fraternal delegates (CanRC, OPC, URCNA) addressed the body, commending the RCUS for its faithfulness to the Word of God and its labor for the Lord Jesus Christ. The delegates also stated their continuing desire for unity and fellowship with the RCUS. Two seminary institutions reported on the progress and work being done at Heidelberg Theological Seminary (Sioux Falls, SD) and City Seminary (Sacramento, CA). God has blessed the work of these two seminaries with students, faithful faculty and staff, and opportunities to educate men locally and abroad. Pray for these seminaries as they search out prospective students and fill vacant faculty and staff positions. Reports from the Stated Clerk, Treasurer, and various board members were also received from the Reformed Herald Editor, Hope Haven, Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
On Wednesday, once again the body spent time in the Word of God, hearing a devotional from Rev. Neale Riffert on Sola Gratia (Grace Alone). A report on the progress of the special committee dealing with the topic of cremation was given, recommending that Synod give the committee another year to complete their work. Their request was granted. The next special committee report dealt with was a report on Two Kingdom theology produced by the Western Classis which was referred to Synod. After much discussion, the Synod decided to return the report to the Western Classis.
Dr. Victor E. d’Assonville of Reformatorisch-Theologisches Seminar in Heidelberg, Germany, spoke on the work of the seminary and mission work taking place in Germany. He spoke of the desire of reaching the German-speaking people which played a role in the location of the seminary. Two graduates of the seminary are ordained and serving congregations. It was made evident that there is a strong need for a Biblical and Reformed presence in Germany in the face of liberal and compromising churches currently in Germany. Dr. d’Assonville stated that the seminary’s focus is that the Gospel is preached according to the Scriptures. Do keep this work in your prayers. Another special order which took place on Wednesday was a round table discussion on the topic of officer training and development led by Elder Roger Gallimore. Many standing committees also brought forth recommendations that the body considered. Previous seminary institutions, mission works, pastors, and widows will continue to be supported by Synod. The night concluded with a worship service led by Rev. Doug Schlegel while Rev. Dr. Maynard Koerner preached a sermon on Sola Fide (Faith Alone).
On Thursday, the final day of business began with a devotion by Rev. Kyle Sorensen on Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone). The Standing Judicial Committee responded to a overture which was resolved by recommending that a special committee be appointed to write an exegetical paper answering the following question, “Is voting in the church an exercise of authority according to the Scriptures?” It was discussed at some length and approved by the Synod to erect this committee to report back to the 272nd Synod. After lunch, as a special order of the day, Dr. Victor E. d’Assonville, from Heidelberg Germany, presented a lecture on the doctrine of the Word of God in the Heidelberg Catechism.
One of the final reports concerned Synodical finances. One of the chief concerns is the case of ministerial relief. The Standing Financing Committee presented a plan to help with the rising cost of this ministry of the church. Synod created an Endowment Fund and an Investment Committee to manage investments to meet rising costs. Each local church is strongly encouraged to review that plan and consider how they can contribute. After this, the guideline for Synodical giving was set at $244.00 per communicant member.
After a motion for adjournment the Synod meeting was concluded with a devotion followed by the Apostles Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, benediction, and the singing of the doxology.