Reformed Church in America Update

January 8, 2022

To the Christ Memorial Church Family,

We have a lot going on around CMC as we prepare for spring and summer! Michael W. Smith will be here in concert during Holy Week. The youth mission trips are filling up with enthusiastic students. And we are working through a plan to do some major updating of our audio, visual, and lighting in the sanctuary (maybe a little facelift too!).

There are a lot of things to be excited about, even a possibility of emerging from this two-year pandemic. Amid all of that, there has been an undercurrent of uncertainty with our denomination, and many of us are hearing about restructuring, churches leaving, and still some contentious spirits. So, here is an update from leadership.

First, at last year’s General Synod, the RCA voted to form a restructuring team to adapt our denomination to a changing faith environment. We understand that RCA Missions are doing incredible things – planting churches and seeing lives changed around the world. But back here at home, the denomination has lost members and churches and needs to outfit itself to better serve the churches that remain. On January 31, 2022, the RCA announced the restructuring team members who will best assess how the denomination will operate in the coming years. It is too early to know with any certainty what this team will propose to denominational leadership and churches.

Second, we know that many of us are hearing about churches leaving the denomination – in some cases, entire classes. This is certainly a cause to take notice, but not necessarily a cause for alarm. Some churches are doing so because of theological convictions. Others are doing so for a reduction in denominational dues. Some are leaving for historic denominations, and others are leaving and joining newly formed groups such as the Alliance of Reformed Churches (ARC). Additionally, some churches are in conversations about changing classes (or creating new ones), but not leaving the denomination.

Third, we have chosen not to make pronouncement about certain social issues.  God’s Word defines sin, and it clearly teaches that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).  The church’s calling is not to emphasize certain sins over others, but to show the world its need for a Savior and to declare the hope of forgiveness, grace, and new life in Christ.  For this reason, we want to begin our conversations with people who are far from God with the love of God.  Once we begin to show our neighbors that God loves them—and that we love them—we can better explain what it means to be a follower of Christ and how that affects the way we live.

Christ Memorial’s mission, vision and values have not changed.

Our calling from the Lord is to “outfit the church to influence the world.” We aim to do so by thinking, loving, and serving like Jesus. Our adherence to scripture and our creeds and confessions remains steadfast and resolute. Similarly, the denomination has not changed its positions or theology in the last number of years. Some churches have, but the denomination has not. We continue to wait, have conversations, and pray. The Reformed Church is the oldest denomination in the United States. She has weathered theological and missional differences in the past and in various ways will continue to do so in the future. We do not believe it is time to panic or make a major decision like leaving the denomination to join another denomination that has no history or a historic denomination that may go through what we have been going through soon. We value the partnership in mission, the work being done to engage the next generation, the historical standards, and the resources for discipleship, worship, and mission that have been the defining characteristics of what it means to be Reformed.

At last year’s General Synod, they also voted to allow graceful separations (allowable until at least 2026). This allows us time to wait and see what form the restructuring takes rather than speculate on the outcome. When this becomes clear, we can thoughtfully consider our options as a congregation and as leadership based on Christ Memorial’s mission, vision, and values. The Leader’s Journey worked with us two years ago to help us understand that the church is made up of different people with a variety of perspectives and beliefs, but if the core tenets of the faith are present, we can stay defined and connected. Our prayer is that more churches try to walk this path for the good of the church, the good of the Kingdom, and the good of the glorious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

May grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Pastors Dave, Dann, and Mike, and the Lead Elders of CMC.