Ambassadors for Christ – Church Revision Process

The Synod of RCH started a Revision Process to reflect on the Mission of the Church in the changing social landscape. The Committe on Church Revision was etsablished in 2012 and finisched its work in November 2014. 

At the Synod Council meeting on 22 February 2012, a Revision Working Group was installed. It was commissioned both to develop an ecclesiological basis for the future church life and for the expected reconfiguration – even restructuring – of the church, and to lead us through the implementation.

One might say this is nothing special and in the light of similar endeavors from our sister-churches in the US, Europe, Africa and even South Korea and Taiwan, this assessment may prove to be true. If we look at the reform processes in the ecumenical bodies in which we are a member, there is even more inspiration and wisdom for our revision process. We gladly and thankfully recognised this at our extraordinary ('thematic') Synod meeting 28-29 September 2011, dedicated exclusively to challenges the church faces in an ever more secularised, post-communist society.

Amid all of this, it is not easy to formulate a mission statement for a church, which in conformity with the reformed tradition lays a nearly exclusive accent on congregational life as the expression of the true Church reflected in theology and in terms of structures as well.

"The congregation is fully/wholly church" – a statement from the Working Plan of the Synod for the on-going cycle (2009-2014), reflecting the above ecclesiological approach. But it goes further, claiming a profound and global vision of the church, an approach that is ab ovo formulated in the constitution of the church, revisited in 1994, where the RCH is described as "part of Jesus Christ's Universal Church”:

“The Church’s wealth is its life in its congregations, and the community of those congregations "right down to the level of the Synod" makes for a living Church. As our future ministers learn in the first year of their studies, the congregation is wholly/fully church, but it is not the whole/full church.” (Working plan of the Synod)

Another basic trait of the church's forming vision is again rooted in the Reformed tradition and stresses the social dimension, which is inalienable to the nature of the church – specified again in the above-mentioned Working Plan as follows:

“The other central Calvinist thought regards taking authentic social responsibility, the effort made for the benefit of the general public as an integral part of the Church’s mission: "Where God is honoured, humanity is practised" (Ubi cognoscitur Deus, etiam colitur humanitas – Comm Jer 22,16)”

In 2011, the Synod decided to choose a dynamic motto, which instead of giving a concrete, static focus of that year’s activity, reflects the forming ecclesiological perspective, thus creating an open space and encouraging the community to seek its own common identity as a “province of the one and catholic Church of Christ”. This is how – along with several thematic foci – the motto, inspired by 2 Corinthian 5:19-20, remained in place as a type of a guiding principle in the search for the renewal of the church.

As the self-identity of the church, “Ambassadors for Christ” points to the reconciliation in Christ as a “gift and task” of which the church in its very being is called to be a sign and agent. Paul's image reflects the inseparable character of the church as living communion and as an agent of mission in the world. In both its characters, the church is partaker of God’s own mission in his Son. We are called in our being and all in our activities to be sign, foretaste and agent of God’s coming Kingdom.

Church Revision Committee (CRC) presented its final report and recommendations to the Synod in November 2014. The recommendations in a document titled “Dialogue with the Future” were accepted as part of further discussion.

“Heaven and earth will pass away”, but “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” The question of the future of the church is therefore whether it is and remains in Christ. All of our good decisions come from the knowledge of God and the obedience to the Holy Spirit. We regard “Missio Dei” (God’s mission) as the most decisive theological concept and perception for the church’s future. It includes the recognition that God’s nature is characterized by the existence in mission. The Father sends the Son, and the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit. The role of the church is no other than to join God’s saving mission for the world." – reads in the final proposal presented to the Synod on 12 November 2014.