Synod welcomed more than 30 candidates for ministry of the Word in the Christian Reformed Church on Thursday morning during a time of joyous song, prayer and praise. About 10 candidates were unable to attend the session, bringing the total number of candidates this year to 41.
The candidates were presented to synod by the Rev. David Koll, director of the Candidacy Committee of the CRC. "It is a joy and pleasure to welcome them," said Koll. "All of the candidates have their own unique story and unique gifts." As Koll read each name, family members of the candidates sitting in the audience clapped and some cheered. Ten of the candidates are women.
Rev. Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., president of Calvin Theological Seminary told the men and women who stood before synod that theirs has been a long journey. "You have spent a long time, effort and energy in the pursuit of God's calling and following up on that ... The church is very pleased with you today. God bless you."
Rev. Aldon Kuiper, president of synod, related the story of one candidate. As a teen, this young man was invited to attend church, Kuiper said. It was on a Sunday when the church celebrated Communion. As he took the bread into his hands, the young man asked what it represented and was immediately filled with the knowledge that the bread represented Jesus Christ.
"That was his beginning of his walk with Christ. He was converted by celebrating the Lord's Supper," said Kuiper.
After the candidates were welcomed, synod broke for coffee and delegates and others had a more relaxed opportunity to present well wishes to the men and women who have trained to be ministers.
In other business on Thursday, synod instructed the CRC's Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action "to boldly advocate and give instruction" for the church's pro-life stance. Since synod has made it clear several times its opposition to abortion, it would be helpful for the church to make that stance better known, said one delegate.
Synod also passed a resolution to have the CRC's Board of Trustees review the mandate of the Office of Social Justice and Hunger action and to bring back a report to next year's synod.
In addition, synod expressed its "deep disappointment" over the fact that it had not received a report that examines the diversity of leadership in the CRC and makes recommendations on how to include more ethnic diversity in leadership positions in the denomination. Synod 2009 had mandated that the BOT have a task force complete a report on the topic of diversity for Synod 2010.
Rev. Jerry Dykstra, executive director of the CRC, said a variety of factors delayed completion of the report. But he assured synod that the task force is meeting and working hard to complete its work.
Rev. Paul De Vries, a delegate from Classis Thornapple Valley, said he was disheartened that the report was not completed on time. "What are people of color supposed to think. Impressions and appearances matter," he said. "Not having the report shows a lack of concern. We need clear steps in writing how this is going to get done." Other delegates also expressed unhappiness over the inability of the committee to complete the report.
Rev. Roger Ryu, a delegate from Classis Pacific Hanmi, said synod should have patience. Expanding diversity has been a goal for many years for the CRC and it is moving slowly but steadily in that direction.
"We feel that the CRC is trying very hard to develop a minority agenda," he said. "These things take time. Little by little, step by step, we are going in the right direction."
For complete coverage of Synod 2010, visit www.crcna.org/Synod