February 29, 2016
Recently, you may have seen an announcement sent out by David Gaewski, Conference Minister for the UCC New York Conference regarding what he called a “dual affiliation in process” with the Regional Synod of New York. I think, in his enthusiasm for the potential in a relationship between the Conference and the Synod of New York, David made some statements that are about conversations rather than actual events from the Synod’s perspective. Please allow me to clarify what is and what is not currently happening.
Last year I spoke with David because I was approached by several churches in the Synod about the possibility of dual affiliation. I asked him if it would be possible for smaller churches to come under the umbrella of “dual affiliation” with others in the Synod rather than each church having to navigate the entire process on its own. David agreed we should have a conversation.
Additionally, the Synod Restructure Team met with the UCC staff to talk about what a partnership might look like and what resources might be shared to benefit both the Synod of New York churches and the New York Conference churches. The intent of this partnership is to use our resources in the best possible ways to serve the Church in New York and to live more fully into our Formula of Agreement and “full communion.” There is no intent to merge our two denominational bodies or to in any way diminish our identity as Reformed Church in America. Quite the opposite. This is, for many of our churches, a way to remain in the RCA while benefitting from the combined resources of both the Conference and the Synod.
At this point, the UCC Conference is exploring the option of forming a new Association (similar to a Classis) that will be open to RCA churches in the Synod of New York that wish to be dually-affiliated. Those RCA churches would remain in their current Classes and continue to exist as Reformed churches with standing in both the UCC and RCA. This process is one undertaken by individual consistories and approved by Classes. This is not a Synod process. The Synod is simply working to help churches explore potential synergies for ministry with the UCC, but dual affiliation is still and will always be the decision of the individual church. The action to form a new Association is a UCC Conference initiative and does not in any way determine what churches in the Synod of New York should do. For the Synod, it is currently just a conversation about potential partnership opportunities.
Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions or concerns.
As always, it is a privilege to serve as your Executive Minister,