For the third year, every General Synod advisory committee dealt with the same key issues. While the fruitfulness of this approach is dependent on selecting the "right" issues, this approach enables all delegates to engage these significant matters more extensively than would typically be practical during floor debate. Discussing challenging issues face to face in the context of a relatively small group can be more constructive than a series of 2-minute speeches from the floor of a synod plenary debate.
This year's two key issues were communications (possibilities for combining the Church Herald with the newer RCA Today publication) and the Belhar Confession. While the latter did seem well-suited to this process, the communications issue was more difficult. Although the delegates had three suggested options to consider, the process yielded a bewildering array of additional proposals. Thinking outside the box seemed to be the order of the day—squared! It seemed that tasking the delegates with the challenge of devising a denomination-wide communications strategy may have been a tad unrealistic--rather like asking a cross-section of 200+ individuals to craft a professional business plan or devising a winning game plan by polling the fans in the stands.
In the end, I’ve heard a preliminary report that a group of dedicated moderators spent the afternoon grappling with the output of the various committees and worked to synthesize them into a representative recommendation which will be considered by the delegates later in this Synod. After experiencing this process, the issues should be relatively familiar to everyone here.