Scenic setting for RCUS Synod

David and I at Mt. Rushmore in August, 2012

Natural beauty and patriotism meet at Mt.Rushmore, near Rapid City, SD, where carvings of four presidents overlook pine-clad mountains. That scenic area was the setting for the 266th Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS), hosted by Grace Reformed Church from May 21-24, 2012.

Rev. James Sawtelle was elected President, Rev. Frank Walker as Vice President, and Rev. David Fagrey as Stated Clerk. Elder Ted Griess served as Treasurer, and Rev. Paul Treick was reappointed to his position as Reformed Herald Editor.

According to Rev. Sawtelle, the most important matter of business was the special committee report on “Promoting a Biblical Sexual Morality.” He explains that the report itself is being refined prior to publication.

“While we were not ready to give the go-ahead for the publication of the report,” he adds, “Synod did adopt the recommendations of the committee to make a series of affirmations and rejections of errors regarding a number of issues prevalent today regarding biblical sexuality. These stand as guides for the churches in pastoral instruction.”

Rev. Sawtelle also noted that Synod decided to discontinue the RCUS Committee to Confer with Dordt College, which had been maintained since the 1970s.

“It is not the Synod’s view that students should not attend the college, and we still have a Board member,” he explained. “Perhaps there will be more dialogue with the college in the future.”

Three overseas church groups accepted invitations from the RCUS to enter into fraternal relations: the United Reformed Churches in the Congo (URCC), the Reformed Fellowship Church of Kenya (RFCK), and the United Covenant Reformed Church in the Philippines (UCRCP).

Synod welcomed ministers Rev. J.P. Mosley (Hope Reformed Church; Pierre, SD) and Rev. Travis Grassmid (Zion Reformed Church; Menno, SD). The 75 delegates also welcomed one new church: Grace Reformed Church in northwest Arkansas, which organized in December of 2011. Rev. Wesley Brice began that church planting effort about 12 years ago.

In addition to some ongoing mission works, the RCUS saw new works begin in Dickinson, ND, Sherman, TX, and Eden Prairie, MN. A group meeting in Omaha, NE, recently replaced regular Bible studies with worship services. Funding for a work in Chico, CA, will cease at the end of 2012, due to a continued decrease in growth.

It was reported that Dr. Robert Grossmann had recently resigned from the faculty of Heidelberg Theological Seminary and is being replaced with adjunct professors.

Rev. Sawtelle relates that delegates at the RCUS Synod enjoyed “excellent camaraderie,” including a “roast” of Rev. Howard Hart, who recently marked the 50th anniversary of his ordination in the ministry.

“The Synod was pretty easy going,” he says. “We were business-like and got through our work in good time, ending at around 2:30 pm on Thursday.”

The 267th Synod of the RCUS is scheduled to begin on May 20, 2013 at Salem Ebenezer Reformed Church in Manitowoc, WI.

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on page 23 of the July 11, 2012, issue of Christian Renewal.

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