Calvary Church of Oak Lawn, Ill., and Faith Church–Highland, Ind., which had dual affiliation with the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church, are two of five churches launching a new collective—the Kingdom Network—focused on multiplying disciples, training leaders, and planting churches.
On Sept. 9, the five congregations, all of which had belonged to the RCA, officially launched the network, which one founding church’s pastor, Ron Citlau, said fits the definition of a denomination. The RCA classis to which they had belonged dissolved at the beginning of September, the end of a 12-month process, said Citlau. He’s pastor of Calvary Church of Orland Park, one of three campus churches that make up Calvary Church. Calvary-Oaklawn and Faith-Highland have petitioned the Christian Reformed classes to which they belong (Chicago-South and Illiana) to be recognized now as union churches with the new Network.
Citlau said the pastors and elders now part of the Kingdom Network have been thoroughly involved in the RCA polity for a decade. “We made a commitment with other large churches in the RCA about 7-10 years ago that we were going to do all that we could to help the RCA stay orthodox,” noting the “issue of the day being the view of homosexuality, but more importantly hermeneutics, the gospel, and church planting and discipleship.”
Tim Huizenga, campus pastor at Faith Church–Highland, said, “We desired to move forward with the hopes of continuing our existing partnerships.” The conclusion, though, was that the RCA was moving in a different direction. “We see what is happening in the RCA as unsolvable, and that’s after a real commitment on our part to see what could be solved,” Citlau said.
The reality that some RCA congregations would separate from the denomination was understood as “inevitable” in the Vision 2020 report released last June. The report, to be discussed at the RCA’s upcoming General Synod, recommends “mutually generous separation” in those situations.
Citlau said the creation of the Network was not reactionary. “We sought to do all that we could that was good (in the RCA), and we want to leave in ways that are good.”
Huizenga said, “First and foremost, the Network is about the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and broken world. We are also about growing and multiplying ministries and movements which do that well. This happens through relationships in the network where churches and pastors are challenged, held accountable, and supported in these efforts.”
In the Network, Huizenga has been asked to be a part of a student team that will seek ways to support leaders in ministry and examine the paths to ordination as pastor.
Citlau is on the executive team for the Kingdom Network. He said,“What we desire is really the best of the Reformed tradition that we covenant to be accountable to one another in our ministry and moral lives ... and we really want to do it.”
Classis Illiana, at its Sept. 21 meeting, approved the intent of Faith Church–Highland’s request to be recognized as a union church with the new network. Classis is consulting with the CRC’s Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee and will come back to the matter at its spring meeting. Classis Chicago South at its Sept. 21 meeting determined that Calvary Church of Oak Lawn still will be delegated to and welcome at classis through next year, and its interim committee was “tasked with charting a way forward with establishing ecumenical relations with the Kingdom Network.”
Pastor Laryn Zoerhof, stated clerk for Classis Illiana, said approving the concept of the request in the meantime “will encourage Faith Church–Highland Campus to remain an active part of Classis Illiana and the CRC.” Huizenga said, “First CRC of Highland, which became Faith Church-Highland in 2013, has been in the Illiana Classis and CRC since its inception in 1908.” He said he hopes the congregation will continue that long relationship of trust.