The Chicago Invitation

We office-bearers within the Reformed Church in America


  • that together we have become ill, and together by Spirit and Word we shall be healed;

  • that we have abdicated true church governance and have allowed our assemblies to become mere administrative bodies.


  • that the confessions, order and worship of the Reformed church have the integrity, vitality and relevance to be the sure guide in ministry and mission, and the means by which we can be faithful to one another;

  • the particular contribution of the Reformed tradition to the entire church in our witness to the reign of Christ in all of creation and culture.

and Invite

  • office bearers and assemblies to repent, rediscover, reclaim, and reform;

  • office-bearers and assemblies to join with us and engage the Reformed Church in America in this repentance and reforming;

  • office-bearers and assemblies to submit with joy, in their respective ministries and missions, to Reformed patterns of discipleship and discipline, and model with gladness a church which is “in unity with itself” (literal translation of Psalm 122:3).

A Calling to Reformed patterns of discipleship and discipline

  1. We believe that the church does not exist for itself, but as a witness to the reign of God in all of life, and as the first fruit of the Kingdom of Christ. We believe that the validity and credibility of the church is not to be confined, bound or limited to its numerical size (Belgic Confession, Art. 27).
  2. We believe that the assemblies of the church are meetings of offices who seek God’s will, and that these assemblies are conciliar (full parity, same standing of all offices), presbyterian (governed by the office of elder) and synodical (“joining-together-on the-path”). We believe that our assemblies of Consistory, Classis and Synod, are a gift and an ordered response to scripture, and that the way they function is a matter of obedience (literally, “listening-walking”) to God’s will more than strategy (planning outcome before you embark).
  3. We believe that the vision for the church should be sought in the faithful revelation of God through the work of office-bearers in their congregations, chaplaincies, and missions, and through the deliberation of office-bearers in assemblies.
  4. We believe that we must be eager to honor the confessional nature of the Reformed church. We believe that when our assemblies address issues, we need to engage our creeds and confessions as faithful and historic witnesses to scripture. We are charged, in our decision-making, to give an account of what we believe. We believe that what we say and do in our assemblies must always be directed toward unity with, and faithfulness to, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints.
  5. We believe the offices of minister of Word and Sacrament, elder and deacon to be both gift and task for the church. The formation, education, and support of these offices is a primary responsibility of the General Synod.

Rejection of errors

  1. We reject our denomination’s habit of disavowing its doctrine, forms of worship, and form of government. We reject the substitution of any document, declaration, or statement in the place of creeds and confessions as the basis for unity and direction in the church.

  2. We reject those parts of the Statement of Vision and Mission that contradict our confessions.We reject the identification of the Reformed church as a “fellowship of congregations’ and “the very presence of Jesus Christ in the world.” We reject the disavowal of the three marks of the church inherent in calling for “a thousand churches in a million ways doing one thing” and in vowing “we will no longer do business as usual, nor our usual business.” We reject the conversion of staff into leadership and the innovation of staff establishing a vision for the denomination as a Reformed body.

  3. We reject in our assemblies (consistories, classes and synods) a process of deciding matters primarily on the basis of expediency and anticipated consequences, and apart from scripture and doctrine as witnessed to by our creeds and confessions. We reject in any of our assemblies the pressure of rubber-stamping programmatic goals coming from officers, staff or from other assemblies.

  4. We reject our denomination’s preoccupation with its size, and any sort of goal-setting and decision-making directed toward statistical growth. We reject the spirit of fear under which we disavow our full message and testimony as a denomination. We reject the subversion of social witness, of ecumenical advance, and of the free exercise of theological deliberation in our assemblies for the sake of goal-setting.

  5. We reject the redefinition of our offices and assemblies according to models derived more from secular culture than from scripture and doctrine. We reject both the arrogation (assumption) and the abrogation (surrender) by the General Synod, or Classis, or Consistory, of its own proper authority. We reject a hierarchical centralization of our structures for governance and program.

  6. We reject the revolutionary distribution of authority and direction in the church as a People of God on account of “board-style” and “policy-governance” models that sidestep the Church as the Body of Christ and disempower our assemblies as freely ordered manifestations of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. We reject the elevation of staff to the place and function of governance.

  7. We reject the confusing of assemblies and boards, and the conflating of governance and program. We reject the loss of transparency in decision making and the inhibition of the free initiative of the assemblies by fashioning agendas for the sake of efficiency or convenience.

  8. We reject the sacrifice of true deliberation and clarity for the sake of superficial unity or unanimity.

  9. We reject initiatives and strategies replacing the Word of God as the heart of the church. Such marching orders cause a devolution of ministers and consistories into leaders, managers, and spiritual entrepreneurs.

  10. We reject the veiling of fiduciary information and the removal of structures of financial accountability which result in the lack of opportunity to deliberate aspects of denominational budgets because of inadequate transparency or limited means of accountability in matters such as salaries, travel and legal fees incurred. We reject our denomination’s preoccupation with assessments as a means to safeguard our future.

revised 06-10-2005

Signatories of the Chicago Invitation

  • Willam P. Te Winkle, elder
  • Timothy J. Van Heest, minister
  • Jim Reid, minister
  • Martin L. Weitz, minister
  • Richard L. Brihn, minister
  • Daniel D. Ramm, minister
  • Rodney Koopmans, minister
  • Rett Zabriskie, minister
  • Louis J. La Fazia, minister
  • Jack Elliott, minister
  • Frederick Mold, Jr., minister
  • Daniel James Meeter, minister
  • James Hart Brumm, minister
  • P. Okke Postma, minister,
  • Harlan E. Ratmeyer, minister
  • Paul Janssen, minister
  • †Allan Janssen, minister
  • John D. Paarlberg, minister
  • Carol M. Bechtel, prof. theo.
  • Al Poppen, minister
  • Eugene Roberts, minister
  • †Paul Van Elk, minister
  • David Hondorp, minister
  • William Morris, minister
  • Frederick van Kempen, minister
  • Jack Wahlberg, minister
  • Charles Stickley, minister
  • Daniel Ogden, minister
  • Nancy H. Ruiter, elder
  • John Coakley, prof. theo.
  • Renee House, minister
  • James Beukelman, minister
  • Jeff Gargano, minister
  • Mark William Ennis, minister
  • Pamela Pater-Ennis, minister
  • Carol Williams, elder
  • Joyce Borgman de Velder, minister
  • †Herman E. Luben, minister
  • Peter Berry, minister
  • Len Kalkwarf, minister
  • Ken Kobza, minister
  • Fred W. Diekman, minister
  • John Rottenberg, minister
  • Tim VanderHaar, minister
  • Donna Nienhuis, elder
  • Terry Lacy, elder
  • Margaret Hart, deacon
  • Patty Lacy, deacon
  • Ann Vanderlaan, deacon
  • Nancy A. McClure-Long, minister
  • Theda Post McBryde, minister
  • Daniel Plasman, minister
  • Harold Delhagen, minster
  • Robert J. Hoeksema, minister
  • Lewis R. Scudder, Jr., minister
  • Anita Manuele, elder
  • Daniel M. Griswold, minister
  • Victor Nuovo, minister
  • Joe Veltman, minister
  • Michael Vandenberg, minister
  • Carol Myers, elder
  • Daniel J. Carlson, minister
  • Janice Melichar-Utter, elder
  • Barbara Yandell, minister
  • John A. Stratton, elder
  • Robert E. Van Voorst, minister
  • Anne Guild-Donavan, minister
  • John Eichenberger, minister
  • Elaine J. Gruet, deacon
  • Timothy J. Ten Clay, minister
  • †William Sacher, minister
  • William Peake, minister
  • Don Peet, minister
  • Lewis E. Kain, minister
  • Jeff Van Der Weele, minister
  • Kathryn Roberts, minister
  • Carol Barbara Sneyd, deacon
  • Glen Gary Sneyd, deacon
  • Jody Betten Rice, minister
  • Roelof J. Oomen, minister
  • Steven E. Hoffman, elder
  • Melody Meeter, minister
  • David Crump, minister
  • Jim Knol, minister
  • William Faulkner, minister
  • John De Velder, minister
  • Lynn Carol Van Ek, minister
  • E. Wayne Antworth, minister
  • Grace Janssen, elder
  • Gerard J. Van Heest, minister
  • Eloise Van Heest, minister
  • Sandra J. Elfring, minister
  • Thomas C. Marsden, minister
  • Joseph A. Loux, minister
  • Dave Armstrong, minister
  • Ruth Kaper Elliott, elder
  • John S. Houston, elder
  • Beverly Lastig, elder
  • †Leonard Masquelier, minister
  • Maureen Thoma, elder
  • Bob Vanderlaan, minister
  • Rick Vander Wende, deacon
  • Sophie Mathonnet-
    VanderWell, minister
  • Peter Maurer, minister
  • John C. Nodop, minister
  • Lucie Perkins, minister
  • Stacey Midge, minister
  • Doug Leonard, minister
  • Marcia Gibbons, minister
  • Kenneth L. Walsh, minister
  • Norman Haight, elder
  • Rhonda Robinson, elder
  • David Blauvelt, elder
  • Lawrence E. Miller, elder
  • Carol O’Neill, elder
  • Robert J. DeYoung, minister
  • Jay Vogelaar, minister
  • Jack Tice, elder
  • David J. Jones, minister
  • Lisa Hansen Tice, minister
  • Rodney Haveman, minister
  • Richard Otterness, minister
  • Dean Wolbrink, minister
  • Mary Kansfield, elder
  • Norman Kansfield, minister
  • William Hertlein, elder
  • James O’Connell, minister
  • Rob Williams, minister
  • Linda Burlew Gold, minister
  • Kathryn Davelaar, minister
  • Dorothy VerStrate Calvin, deacon
  • Amy Nyland, minister
  • Matthew J. van Maastricht, minister
  • Audrey Edewaard, minister