As I read through the Workbook, I came across the same paragraph several times. It was the GSC's "Global Ends Policy." Near the beginning of each of seven different GSC "ends policies" reports (on pp. 190, 214, 229, 242, 257, 290, and 305), this policy statement is printed in full:
"Empowered by the Holy Spirit and in covenant with the general secretary and staff, the General Synod Council will carry out its responsibilities in order to ensure that the Reformed Church in America will be a denomination where congregations are following Christ in mission, equipped and empowered for faithful and fruitful ministry, which requires all we have and all we are to the glory of God."
I don't know when this policy statement was written, or by whom. I am sympathetic to the task they faced. Such things are very difficult to write well.
Even so, I would like to urge some changes. For the language we use is important, reflecting our values or perhaps implying values that are not our own. This statement, I believe, says more than it should.
My problem with the statement is with the very first clause: "Empowered by the Holy Spirit." I understand what is intended here. The authors want to affirm the importance of the work of the Spirit. That's good. Very good, in fact. But what is actually said goes beyond that. The clause states something remarkable: that the GSC is, in fact, empowered by the Holy Spirit.
But it says too much, presumes too much, to say that any of us are "empowered by the Holy Spirit," except perhaps in retrospect. We are called to rely on the Holy Spirit, to pray for the empowering of the Spirit, to seek the guidance of the Spirit, to give thanks for the Spirit's blessings when they come. But we can never assume, in any endeavor we are about to undertake, that we in fact are so empowered.
Clearly, the burden of the opening of the statement (from "Empowered" through "staff") is to indicate how the GSC "will carry out its responsibilities." They are things that the GSC must ensure. But we cannot ensure the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. We can only call upon that empowerment, pray for it, rely upon it. I would urge this simple modification: replace "Empowered by" with "Seeking the Holy Spirit's leading ...."