2104 Campbell Street
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Office: (815) 464-9181
Mobile: (765) 237-7678
President: Bob Wierenga (Wisconsin)
Vice President (interim): Chad DeJager (Chicago)
At-Large Members: Scott Stephan (Illinois), Chad Farrand (Naciones), Vacant (Illiana), Vacant (New Thing)
Merry Christmas from the Regional Synod of Mid-America! May God give grace and peace to you as you celebrate him. May your New Year be filled with hope.
From Outreach to Embracing: a Biblical and Transformational Model for Equity-Based Hospitality – The RCA is offering a learning community that will explore cultivating Christ-like, equity-based hospitality and engagement across differences. Equity-based hospitality works across generations, gender, disabilities, race, and culture, removing the barriers that hold us back from God’s vision of community in Christ. It enfolds people the way Jesus did so that everyone has a place at the table, drawing the circle wide and inviting all to embrace the reign of peace and love Christ came to bring. This will be a 10 week learning journey and you can sign up or learn more HERE.
RSMA Staff to transition to new roles: Beginning in 2021 Wayne Van Regenmorter will be transitioning to a part time role as the Facilitator for Multi-Ethnic Church Partnerships and Chad Schuitema will be transitioning to the Regional Synod Executive role. To read more about this transition in a letter from the RSMA President, click HERE.
There is a new RSMA Directory of Ministers and Ministries available for 2021. Please keep this document private and do not share it anywhere online. You can download it HERE.
The Regional Synod of Mid-America is looking for a Corresponding Woman Delegate and a Corresponding Youth Delegate for General Synod 2021. These delegates attend all the sessions of General Synod and have the privilege of the floor but do not vote. There are also a few special opportunities for these delegates at General Synod. The Corresponding Women Delegates is open to any woman who is a member of an RCA church and the Youth Delegate is open to anyone connected to an RCA church with a sense of call from God to go into ministry. Usually, these youth delegates are college-aged and discerning a call to ministry in any form. General Synod 2021 will be held June 10-15, 2021 in Pella, Iowa. Lodging and food is covered by the RCA and travel will be reimbursed by the RSMA. Email Chad Schuitema if you know of someone or you yourself are interested in serving in this role.
RSMA to host Vision 2020 conversations – In January, each classis will be invited to participate in a Zoom online meeting to hear from members of the Vision 2020 Team, RCA Staff, and have an opportunity to discuss the proposals together as a classis. More information will be coming soon and specific times and dates will be released by your classis.
The RCA continues to offer free/reduced fee Spiritual Direction (and coaching) during the Pandemic – to learn more, and find a spiritual director, click HERE. To hear General Synod Vice-President, Phil Assink, share about his experience with spiritual direction, click HERE.
Free Christian Counseling for Pastors and Church Employees – The RCA’s Board of Benefits Services Employee Assistance Program provides free, confidential Christian counseling either at at an outpatient clinic in your area or via an online telehealth session. Up to 3 sessions per issue are provided at no cost to any employee of an RCA church. Some common issues addressed are depression, anxiety, work-related problems, marital issues, family issues, substance abuse, and others. The 24 hour hotline number is (833) 244-2490. For more information click HERE.
You can continue to find all of the RCA’s COVID-19 resourcesHERE.
NEWS FROM CAMP MANITOQUA
Fall Into Winter @ Manitoqua: Manitoqua will be offering outdoor activities on Tuesdays and Wednesdays before and after Christmas (12/22&23; 12/29&30). Climbing activities, games, and other fun events are being planned. You can choose either a morning time (9:30-11:30) or an afternoon time (1:00-3:00). Sign up HERE.
WinterBlast will be two separate times in December for kids in 1st-6th grade. WinterBlast seeks to introduce children to Christ and His message of salvation as well as to provide a setting and community where their lives are enriched through high energy and intentional programming. We hope that during their winter break, your child’s experience is a real blast! For more information and to sign up, click HERE.
To get the most up to date information, please check out their updates HERE.
THOUGHTS FROM WAYNE
A Christmas Story…
In a year inundated with COVID, quarantine orders, social distancing, face masks, closed church services, essential or non-essential businesses, ventilators, Zoom meetings, streaming worship, homeschooling, virtual seminars, adaptive leadership, grief and loss, and much more, I find myself yearning to keep the 2020 Advent and Christmas season simple. I am drawn back to a Christmas story told by the late Paul Harvey, famous for “The Rest of the Story” segments on radio. It is one of my favorite Christmas stories because it speaks to me about those who seek complex answers to questions of a simple new-born baby laid in a manger. Harvey tells this modern parable entitled, “The Man and the Birds” for the cynics, the skeptics, the unconvinced, the seeker.
He begins: “Now the man to whom I am going to introduce to you was not a Scrooge. He was a kind, decent, mostly good man, generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other people; but he just didn’t believe all that incarnation stuff which churches proclaim at Christmas time. It just didn’t make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus story about God coming to earth as a human being. ‘I’m truly sorry to distress you,’ he told his wife, ‘but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.’ He said he’d feel like a hypocrite and he’d much rather stay at home. But he would wait up for them as they attended the midnight service.
Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair to read the newspaper. Minutes later, he was startled by a thudding sound and then another and another. At first, he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window, but when he walked to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in a storm and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through his large landscape window.
Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter if he could direct the birds to it. Quickly he put on a coat, boots, and trampled through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow making a trail to the yellow lighted wide open doorway of the barn, but to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flap around hopelessly in the snow. He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction except into the warm lighted barn. Then he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way that I could let them know that they can trust me; that I’m not trying to hurt them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.
If only I could be a bird, he thought to himself, and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see and hear and understand.
At that moment, the church bells began to ring. Their sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. He stood there listening to the bells, listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. Then he sank to his knees in the snow. Now he understood why God had to do what He had to do.”
Thanks be to God who came to earth in the vulnerable state of a baby to dwell among us. Thanks be to God who sent His Son who knows our fears, anxieties, frustrations, joys, and weaknesses. Thanks be to God for sending a Savior who was willing to go to a cross and take upon Himself our sins that we might have the hope of heaven opened to us. Thanks be to God who revealed His love in Jesus, always having a special place in His heart for the broken, hurting, and helpless.
Wishing you the joy of Christmas!
— Wayne Van Regenmorter
LINKS YOU MAY FIND USEFUL
Pivoting: Discipleship in the Age of COVID-19 – Read about Christ Community Church in Lemont, IL (one our our regional synod churches) and how they responded with creativity and intentionality to continue to try to grow as disciples.
How In-Person Church Attendance Will Change in the Future – While the church will always gather in-person, read what Outreach Magazine thinks will be changing in the future regarding future attendance. Number 4 was kind of hard to read, but may become reality for many of our churches.
Reaching New People this Christmas is More Important than Ever – The Lewis Center for Church Leadership writes: “Even in a time when it seems that everything has changed, there’s one thing that probably hasn’t — Christmas is still one of the few times of year when people not normally interested in church take an interest and when church members are open to inviting family and friends. As you work to reimagine your Christmas observances, consider ways to carry on the tradition of inviting and engaging newcomers.” There are some very interesting and easy ways to step up our evangelism this Christmas.
How to Lead Well: Listen to Different People – Not everyone in our church thinks like we do! Ron Edmondson says that one of the ways that we can grow as leaders is to grow from people who think differently than we do, to seek input from diverse opinions, to be curious, and to listen well.