Report on the 268th Synod of the RCUS
The 268th meeting of the Synod of the RCUS contained, for this delegate, a first. I do not believe I have ever seen anyone speak against a motion to adopt the agenda before, or a movement to refer an issue raised by the agenda to the Judicial Committee. The matter was raised because of a change in the manner of conducting morning devotions each day of Synod. By God’s grace, this was not a foreshadowing of the rest of the Synod meeting, which on the whole was quite cordial and collegial.
Now, cordiality and collegiality are not to be commended when they hide complacency or heterodox teaching. But the RCUS remains committed to contending for the pure truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in God’s Word, to the spread of this gospel unto the nations, and to doing all things in the house of God decently and in order. The disagreements we experience tend to be on the “how” of doing those things, but I am grateful that “whether” or not to do those things is not an issue for debate in the RCUS. May God grant us humility in the face of His great grace to us, and bless us with wisdom and zeal to continue to do the work He has given us as best as we can.
Synod 2014 went quite smoothly without any great controversies, unless some felt much more strongly about some things than they let on. There were the usual discussions about the best way to balance opportunities for ministry with the obligation to be responsible with the resources God has given us. The discussion regarding continuing the mission work at Omaha after losing our core families and missionary was passionate, but in the end the Synod decided to move forward with the work, considering especially the continued commitment of the overseeing Consistory at Lincoln to this work. We are sensitive to the fact that while some parts of the denomination are growing, others are struggling financially and demographically.
The RCUS recognizes the need to stand firm on Biblical doctrines even when they are not popular in our culture. To that end, we spoke clearly on the Biblical doctrine of marriage in a position paper recently published. This year we erected a committee to choose language to insert into our constitution and/or our marriage liturgy making clear the RCUS’ affirmation of the historic Christian doctrine that a marriage is a God-ordained institution between only a man and a woman.
We heard sobering news regarding the health of several of our elderly retired ministers and ministers’ widows. May God grant comfort and rest to those who are in pain, to those who are struggling at the end of their lives, and who are waiting to be taken home to be with the Lord.
One particularly exciting piece of news was the establishment and support of a Hispanic Mission work to the Shafter, CA, area. Due to immigration patterns in the area, Shafter has become heavily Spanish-speaking (true of more of our church neighborhoods than Shafter), and the Western Classis especially has been praying for years for the resources to minister to this community. God has provided in the person of Rev. Valentin Alpuche, who has passed examination by the Western Classis and will begin work there this summer. May God bless this work and extend His kingdom to those peoples with whom He is bringing us into contact. At a time when many of our older churches are in areas of demographic decline, I’m thankful that the Lord has not permitted us to sink into a spirit of complacency, and has stirred up a desire to respond faithfully to the God-ordained movements of people.
The body was also blessed to hear a report on the work of Rev. Dennis Roe who has been very active in foreign missions this past year. We saw a presentation on his trip to Kenya. We are thankful that the Lord has blessed us with opportunities to labor overseas in the work of spreading the gospel, and thankful for men such as Rev. Roe to take advantage of those opportunities. We pray that God would make use of him, for we know His word never goes forth without accomplishing His purposes.
Emmanuel Reformed Church of Sutton, NE, did an outstanding job of hosting the Synod meeting! We are thankful for their generosity and hospitality. Synod can be a great time of refreshing Christian fellowship, and Emmanuel’s hospitality did much to facilitate that.
Until next year,
Rev. Matt Powell