At a special congregational meeting last night University Reformed Church voted 366-18 (95.3%) in favor of leaving the Reformed Church in America (RCA) and affiliating with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).
Of the 384 votes, 335 (320-15) were cast at the meeting and 49 (46-3) by absentee ballot.
The 384 votes represent 91% of our communicant membership. University Reformed Church currently has 422 members and a Sunday morning attendance of around 650.
It may seem like you’ve heard this news before, so let me try to explain the process.
- Our congregation also voted in April to leave the RCA. This was only an advisory vote and not required by the Book of Church Order (BCO). In our polity, the consistory is the body that files the petition for withdrawal. The meeting we had in April was the consistory’s attempt to discern the mind of the congregation before making our final decision. We filed our petition with the Classis of South Grand Rapids in May.
- After the classis received our petition they established a four person committee to investigate the reasons for withdrawal. As a part of their investigative work, the committee, as per the BCO, met separately with each of the installed pastors and then with the consistory (without the pastors present).
- The classis committee called a special congregational meeting for last night. I was given 10 minutes to present our reasons for withdrawal. The committee then spoke for 10 minutes against the motion to withdraw. Following the two brief presentations, the congregation was given about 30 minutes to ask questions of either side. We then voted by secret ballot. The results of our vote in April do not matter to the classis. Last night’s vote is the one that counts.
What happens now?
In the next month, the classis committee will meet with representatives of the PCA to ascertain whether we would be received into our new denominational home with open arms. The committee will then write a report, with recommendations, that will go before the whole classis. This report is due in January. The classis will vote on the committee’s recommendations in March.
If our church is given permission to withdraw from the RCA we can officially join the PCA once (1) any classis stipulated obligations are met and (2) the elders and pastors are examined and received into membership by the Presbytery of the Great Lakes.
Please continue to pray for a fair process and an outcome that will best serve the interest of Christ’s kingdom.