Touché April 7, 2017
Posted on April 7, 2017 by under Touché,

 

A Bombshell Lands in Hopewell

You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. (Ephesians 4:4-6 MSG)

On Tuesday evening I was with our General Secretary of the Reformed Church in Bronxville.  On Wednesday I got the news (from Steve Dambra) that he was resigning.  This was a bombshell that drops on Hopewell this weekend.  Tom DeVries is preaching here and visiting Odyssey this Sunday.  His first public appearance after this announcement will be at HRC.  If it were the President or the Pope, the church would be swarming with reporters and on-lookers coming to hear first words out his mouth after resigning.  Why? Why now? What happened?   I am sure there will be no reporters or on-lookers on Sunday, but for those of us in the RCA it is a significant time to have the General Secretary step down. The introduction I had prepared for Tom is that he is the one leader who can hold the RCA together.  He came from the much more conservative west, but he worked well with all people and perspectives in the church.

The verse above from Ephesians 4 was included in Tom’s last prayer letter.  He shared his frustration at the divisions in the church, especially over the issue of human sexuality.  As he was with the heads of the communion of Formula of Agreement Churches (United Church of Christ, Evangelical Lutherans, and Presbyterian Church in the USA) he posted pictures of the celebration of twenty years of the Formula of Agreement.  The responses that came of derision and condemnation for celebrating our unity discouraged him deeply.  He had a line I loved: “Call me old-fashioned, but I believe there will be Presbyterian brothers and sisters in Christ, Lutheran brothers and sisters in Christ, and United Church brothers and sisters in Christ when we all unite together in heaven.”  He then goes on to say: “It is a unity that is not for the sake of unity, but a unity that is for the sake of the gospel. God is honored in not only the good news of Jesus Christ that we proclaim boldly, but also through the testimony of how we live and love like Jesus by the way we treat fellow Christians with mercy, grace, and love.”

Tom is headed to Willow Creek to take over as the President and CEO of the Willow Creek Association.  Where the RCA is headed remains to be seen.  I pray that we can live into his words even as we live without his leadership.

In Him,

Taylor

If you want to read Tom’s prayer letter you will find it here.

If you want to read his resignation letter you will find it here.