On the evening of May 16th, our host church, Northland Reformed Church in Kansas City, MO provided the first of several excellent meals which was followed by a worship service led by Rev. Travis Grassmid and a sermon from Acts 20:17-38 by Rev. Eric Bristley. The presiding President of Synod, Rev. Frank Walker asked for the roll call; shortly thereafter, the presiding Secretary Rev. Ruben Zartman reported thirty-three ministers and twenty-three elders present, after which Rev. Walker declared a quorum and the meeting of the 276th Synod of the RCUS open for business.
Tuesday morning thirty-six ministers and twenty-six elders answered the 8:00 a.m. roll call and President Walker declared the meeting open for business. The morning devotion was given by Rev. Chuck Muether from Matthew 6:5-11 and was closed with prayer and the singing of “Break Thou the Bread of Life.” The election of the officers of Synod followed shortly thereafter; during which Mr. Roger Gallimore was elected President, the first time an elder delegate has been elected president. Rev. Michael McGee was elected Vice President, and Rev. Ruben Zartman was elected Stated Clerk.
Rev. Jeff Munive, who is licensed in the Western Classis of the RCUS where he is currently serving at Grace Reformed Church in Lancaster, CA was received and warmly welcomed as new minister in the RCUS. President Gallimore also joyfully acknowledged Rev. Lee Johnson’s presence at Synod, after significant health issues. The following Permanent Committees reports followed afterwards: Archives, Board of Trustees, and Executive.
The Rev. Frank Walker, who had faithfully served as the President of the RCUS Synod for the past six years presented his sixth and final President’s Report for the preceding Synodical year; addressing the state of the church with words of both encouragement and exhortation, praising the fact that the faithful proclamation of the gospel continues throughout all the Classes, that we continue to trust in the promises of God and to boldly and manfully act upon those promises as we continue to move the church forward in our day, to take seriously the importance and responsibility of serving on Synodical committees, and to keep an open mind when it comes to considering new ways of doing things. Chief concerns among the Classes included declining membership, retiring ministers, the need for new ministers, and the need to “be careful and humble to maintain our sound ecclesiastical governance and submission.”
Reports from the Stated Clerk and Treasurer and the Membership and Statistics Report followed afterward. The Synod welcomed Mr. John Terpstra from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), Rev. Todd De Rooy from the United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA), Rev. Steve Vandevelde from the Canadian and American Reformed Churches (CanRC), and Rev. Bruce Parnell of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA). Each of these delegates addressed the body and commended the RCUS for her faithfulness to the Word of God and her labor for the Lord Jesus Christ while sharing with the body both encouraging works among their own denominations as well as prayer requests for which a sincere thankfulness was expressed for the unity and fellowship between us all that makes such familial reports and requests not only most welcome but most cherished.
Also in attendance were representatives from City Seminary and Seminario Reformado de las Americas (Sacramento, CA), Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Taylors, SC), Mid-America Reformed Seminary (Dyer, IN), and Heidelberg Theological Seminary (Sioux Falls, SD). Reports were also given by the representative of each of these seminaries on the progress and work being done by their respective institutions which included the various ways in which God has blessed their labors locally and abroad along with requests for prayer and praise for the many new opportunities and challenges that continue to present themselves daily.
Representatives from Middle East Reformed Fellowship, Reformed Faith and Life, the Reformed Church in Myanmar, and Hope Haven ministries were also present and shared the Lord’s blessing of their labors along with prayer requests for wisdom and the Lord’s leading in the year to come.
The labors of all of these dear brothers in Christ, their churches, their seminaries, and the various ministries in which they serve are commended to all for godly affection and prayer.
The Special Classis Boundaries Committee report followed and was eventually referred to the Standing Judicial Committee for review and the committee itself continued for another year to report back at the 277th Synod of the RCUS and the days business was brought to a close with and extended discussion of the report of the Benevolence Standing Committee.
Wednesday morning thirty-four ministers and twenty-seven elders answered the 8:00 a.m. roll call and President Gallimore declared the meeting open for business. The morning devotion was led by Rev. Dave Irwin from Psalm 11 and was closed in prayer and the singing of “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.” The previous day’s discussion of the report of the Ministerial Aid Standing Committee was concluded with all previous and new pastors and widows continuing to be supported by Synod. Many other reports of the Standing Committees were presented afterwards from which the following highlights are mentioned: Publications: Rev. George Horner was elected the Reformed Herald editor; Education and Student Aid: all previous seminary institutions will continue to be supported; all overtures for student financial aid were approved; all RCUS congregations be asked to consider taking a special offering on the last Sunday of October to support the ministry of Seminario Reformado de las Américas in Quito, Ecuador; Promotions: The Synod approved the creation of a Reformed Home Group Network (RHGN) to connect existing home groups with RCUS congregations, and approved the necessary preparations for the planning of the Three Hundredth Anniversary of the RCUS; Foreign Ministries: All current foreign mission works would continue to be supported by Synod; Judicial: The Synod sent the following amendment to the Classes for ratification: that Article 95 of the RCUS Constitution be amended to state, “The Synod is composed of at least three Classes….”
The final business of the day was that the Abstract of the Minutes of the 276th Synod be dedicated to the memory of Rev. Gene Sawtelle and Rev. Wesley Brice. The night concluded with a worship service led by Rev. Michael Voytek and a sermon from Matthew 5:1-12, “Blessed Are the Peacemakers,” by Rev. Ryan Kron.
Thursday morning thirty-five ministers and twenty-seven elders answered the 8:00 a.m. roll call and President Gallimore declared the meeting open for business. The morning devotion was led by Rev. Chris Moulton from James 4:13-17 and was closed with prayer and the singing of “God, Be Merciful to Me.”
Remaining reports of the Standing Committees were presented from which the following highlights are mentioned: Synodical Permanent Finance Committee: Mr. Randy Shroeder was elected as Synod Treasurer; ministerial relief continues to be a major concern and the eldership of local congregations are strongly encouraged to proactively assist their ministers in preparing for future financial needs via a recommended temporal contract checklist being provided by the committee. Per the committee’s approved recommendation, the Synod is requiring all local congregations to cease using the RCUS FEIN by January 1, 2023 and recommends that each local congregation obtain its own FEIN. The guideline for Synodical giving was set at $242.00 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, a benediction, and the singing of the doxology.