Board Lifts Suspension of Belleville Pastor

Board Lifts Suspension of Belleville Pastor

The Board of Trustees of the Christian Reformed Church, acting on behalf of synod, has decided to lift the suspension imposed on Rev. John Visser by Synod 2012. With this decision, Visser can resume his role as pastor of Maranatha CRC in Belleville, Ontario, effective immediately.

The Board said in an announcement yesterday that its decision is based on a series of communications with the council of Maranatha CRC, the completion of an assessment of the Healing Ministry Centre (also known as Restoration Ministries) by a professional consultant, and “a readiness for ministry” assessment performed by Midwest Ministry Development.

The consultant who did the Healing Ministry Centre assessment made a number of recommendations, 11 of which have been or are being implemented. The council of Maranatha CRC has decided that Visser will no longer be responsible for the operation of the Healing Ministry Centre. An agreement has also been reached to have the consultant provide ongoing oversight of the Healing Ministry Centre.

The Board said it is releasing this public statement because it believes that transparency is an important value and also because this case has received widespread attention in the church, in Classis Quinte and in the Belleville area.

It said it recognizes that there are some who believe that justice is not served by the decision to lift the suspension and that there are some who desired a more in-depth assessment of the Healing Ministry Centre’s practices, as well as decisions made about it by the church council.

The Board emphasized that the decision to lift the suspension was based exclusively on information provided by the council of Maranatha CRC, the “readiness for ministry” assessment and the report of the Healing Ministry assessment provided by the professional consultant. The Board said it believes that its decision is within the parameters set by the decisions of Synod 2012 concerning this matter.

The Board said it received a number of communications from parties with widely divergent views concerning Maranatha’s Healing Ministry. Because the judicial code process has already run its course, and because synod gave specific instructions concerning the matter to the Board of Trustees, it is the Board’s judgment that the lifting of the suspension is warranted, subject to the commitment of the church council to follow through on the recommended changes in the operation of the Healing Ministry.

The announcement concluded: “It is the sincere hope and prayer of the Board of Trustees that healing may come to all who were affected, and all who experienced brokenness and hurt.”

The report on Synod 2012’s decision can be found at synod-rules-belleville-church-conflict.