Synodical delegates of the RCUS gathered for the 266th annual meeting at Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD, on May 21–24, 2012. The meeting was opened with a worship service on Monday evening with the Rev. Darrell Kingswood preaching. An additional worship service was held on Wednesday evening with the Rev. Harvey Opp preaching. Also, morning devotions were given by the Rev. Hank Bowen, Rev. Jimmy Hall, and Rev. Ryan Kron, with a closing devotion led by Elder Roger Galimore.
The opening roll call showed forty-eight ministers and twenty-six elders present as delegates. The Synod continued with business on Tuesday morning with the election of officers. All of the current officers were reelected: President, Rev. Jim Sawtelle; Vice President, Rev. Frank Walker; Clerk, Rev. David Fagrey; and Treasurer, Elder Ted Griess. Rev. Paul Treick continues as Reformed Herald editor.
The Synod officially approved the reception of two new ministers, and the delegates welcomed them by extending the right hand of fellowship. The Rev. J. P. Mosley is pastor of Hope Reformed Church, Pierre, SD, and the Rev. Travis Grassmid is pastor of Zion Reformed Church, Menno, SD. The delegates were led in a prayer of thanksgiving for these men and sought God’s blessing upon their ministries.
God continues to bless His Church by providing men to fulfill all of the offices and tasks necessary for the work of the ministry. An additional cause for praise is the reception of a new congregation. Grace Reformed Church of Northwest Arkansas was recently organized into a particular congregation.
On a sad note, the Synod noted the passing of the Rev. Chester Ploeger. Rev. Ploeger’s ministry certainly has had a great impact upon the RCUS, and we thank God for him. The Abstract of the Minutes for the 266th Synod will be dedicated to his memory.
Fraternal Delegates and Visitors
In the name of ecumenicity it is always a delight and a sign of the unity of the body of Christ to have delegates from churches with whom the RCUS enjoys fraternal relationships. Fraternal delegates are given the privilege of the floor and are asked to address the Synod. Bringing greetings to the 266th Synod were: Rev. Joe Poppe, from the Canadian Reformed Churches; Rev. Kim Batteau, from the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated); Rev. Chuck Muether, from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church; and Rev. Jerry Milroy, from the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America. A letter of greeting was read from the United Reformed Churches of North America.
Dr. Dominic Aquila, President of New Geneva Seminary, and Mr. Marlowe Van Ginkel representing Hope Haven addressed the body on behalf of the institutions they represent.
The Business of Synod
Each year the Synod receives a number of reports and makes decisions concerning these reports dealing with the business of the Church. These deal with such issues as providing assistance for needy churches, providing for retired ministers and widows, publishing necessary materials, giving attention to the training of men for the ministry, dealing with questions which arise concerning interpretation of the constitution, and dealing with relations with other churches. The work of several of these committees is worthy of special mention.
The Work of Missions
The RCUS seeks to be faithful in fulfilling the mandate given by the Lord to preach the gospel to the lost throughout the land and around the globe. To that end, funding was approved to assist the following home mission churches: Covenant Reformed, Chico, CA; Rehoboth Reformed, La Habra, CA; Grace Reformed, NW Arkansas. Support was also provided for two chapels seeking to become established as churches: Emmaus Road Reformed Chapel, Eden Prairie, MN, and First Reformed Chapel of Dickenson, ND.
A special cause for rejoicing is the fact that funding was approved to begin a new work in Omaha, NE. Under the oversight of St. John’s Reformed Church of Lincoln, NE, a number of families have been meeting on Sunday evenings in the Omaha area. They will be seeking to find a pastor to work with these families and seek to plant a church. Please pray for this opportunity to preach the gospel.
In the area of Foreign Missions, the RCUS continues to support and provide assistance in three areas: The Congo, Kenya, and the Philippines. There are tremendous needs on these mission fields, yet the Lord has been pleased to use the efforts of His people. We rejoice in the good reports presented by the committee. There remains a need for a minister to teach in Uganda, providing training for men from Kenya. In addition, support for Reformed Faith and Life—French was continued at $17,000. Please pray that the Lord would provide for this and all of the needs on the mission field.
Training for Ministry
In its concern for the training of men for the ministry, the Synod seeks to assist students by providing aid for tuition and books. This year aid was approved for six students for the ministry. The fact that there are this many students is very positive and reason for rejoicing. May God bless these men as they prepare to serve His Church in ministry.
The Synod seeks to provide for ministerial training by supporting a number of seminaries, including Greenville Presbyterian Seminary, Mid-America Reformed Seminary, New Geneva Seminary, and Heidelberg Seminary. The Synod received a report on the progress of Heidelberg Seminary. While the seminary is still in the process of getting established, there is considerable progress. Progression has been made in the area of establishing a full curriculum for teaching as well as an increase in students.
Biblical Sexual Morality
The Synod considered one special study report, “Promoting a Biblical Sexual Morality.” Given the increasing confusion in our world concerning marriage and gender, this is a very important issue. The Synod spent some time considering and fine tuning the body of the report. The report was received and given to the Publications Committee for editing. It was also recommended to the congregations as a pastoral guide and to provide suggestions for further improvement. The Synod did adopt a series of declarations and rejections. It would be good to become familiar with these. Your pastor should be able to provide them for you. This is indeed an important issue which the Church will need to deal with.
A Routine Synod
This reporter has attended and participated in thirty-six consecutive annual meetings of the top judicatory of the RCUS. In my humble opinion, this may have been the most routine of them all. With one exception, of course, the report on Biblical Sexuality, which was anything but routine. While the Church should never become complacent and just go through the routine of doing its business, it is good to meet with delegates who are of one mind, and who are on the same page in regard to the work of the church. We have dealt with many issues over the last thirty-six years; surely we will deal with many more in the future. But at least for this Synod, it was refreshing to simply be about the work of the Church of Jesus Christ.
For many years the RCUS met as the Eureka Classis as the highest judicatory of the Church. As the Lord blessed the RCUS with continued growth, four Classes were established and the Synod was reconstituted. The 2012 meeting of the Synod of the RCUS was the 25th year of being reconstituted as a Synod.
The Warm Hospitality
Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City was a most gracious host for the meeting of Synod. Their hospitality and desire to serve the delegates and visitors was most appreciated. The delegates expressed their appreciation with the adoption of the following statement.
“The delegates of the 266th Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States wholeheartedly express our gratitude to God for Grace Reformed Church for its hosting this year’s Synod meeting. We praise our covenant-making and covenant-keeping God for your labor of love, work of faith, and patience of hope, as you ministered to us pilgrims as we did the Lord’s work removed from our own bivouac [a temporary encampment or shelter]. While Scripture commands us “to entertain strangers, for some have entertained angels unawares,” the corollary is that the hosts themselves may also be angelic. May our God richly bless your angelic hospitality and Christian love that you lavishly expressed to us!”
The 267th Synod will meet at Salem-Ebenezer Reformed Church, of Manitowoc, WI, on May 20, 2013.