The URCNA has suffered from a lack of coordinated efforts in missions and church planting efforts and Synod London 2010 set up a study committee to research and make recommendations regarding a permanent missions committee and coordinator options. The study committee’s report recommended the establishment of a permanent committee, representing all classes, and a full-time missions coordinator.
The vote of the first two recommendations from the advisory committee demonstrated the unity of thought with regard to the need for a coordinated mission effort. Delegates quickly passed motions to establish a Missions Committee and to allow the Missions Study Committee to serve as the new standing committee in an interim capacity, but things slowed to a crawl when it came to appointing a Missions Coordinator.
Many delegates expressed concern about the expense of a full-time director and suggested that other less costly methods might be employed. There were also concerns about the local consistory losing its authority on some mission-related issues.
Several missionaries and church planters related how they’ve received crucial assistance from denominationally appointed personnel from other federations, and spoke with feeling of their longing for this type of support within their own federation.
Among those speaking was Rev. Andre Ferrari, a church planter in Milan, Italy. He explained that a group of believers from Romania contacted him because of “the principled ecclesiology” of the URCNA.
“So we are walking with them,” he said, adding that he didn’t know how that could continue due to his already full load as a pastor. “The best men during the Protestant Reformation functioned as members of a virtual missions committee.”
Speaking in favor of the motion, Rev. Chris Folkerts asked delegates not to focus so much on practicality, but rather to think in terms of biblical stewardship. He said, “Paul was the quintessential missions coordinator.”
Sometimes a lengthy debate concludes with a surprising vote. When the question was finally called, a large majority of delegates approved hiring a Missions Coordinator.