Agenda for Synod 2023 Available
The printing of this year’s Agenda has been delayed due to paper shortages and is currently scheduled to be mailed to churches and delegates in late May. In the meantime, the digital version is available for review.
This year’s agenda is full.
“There are 67 overtures, communications, appeals, gravamina, and reports on the agenda that are tied directly to issues of human sexuality and how we will handle disagreements around that,” said Scott DeVries, director of synodical services. “The gravamina – engaging a process by which officebearers can express concerns about the confessional documents of the CRCNA - are especially notable. We will be following a process that was created in 1976 but hasn’t ever been put to use. This year we have five gravamina - four dealing with human sexuality and one dealing with the use of the word ‘Anabaptist’ in the Belgic Confession.”
Another issue that is expected to foster discussion at Synod 2023 is a code of conduct proposed for ministry leaders that is intended to prevent the abuse of power. A draft Code of Conduct for Ministry Leaders went to Synod 2022, which directed that churches have a year to review and discuss it.
“A committee collected feedback from many churches and classes, took the feedback to heart, and made some substantial changes to the code and the recommendations on how to implement it,” explained DeVries. “It will be up to this synod to determine whether the revised code of conduct and plan for implementation now addresses the feedback received and should be adopted or not.”
Synod 2023 will also discuss two synodical task force reports - one dealing with ecclesiastical marriage, and the other with bivocationality for pastors. Both of these reports were prepared for submission to Synod 2021 but were deferred because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These reports address important issues relevant to shifting needs of churches around pastoral leadership and changing societal norms concerning marriage. Some portions of the CRCNA are already quite affected by one or both of these issues and have been waiting for additional clarity for some time. The decisions made this year will likely influence and guide the CRCNA’s views for generations to come.
In addition, Synod 2023 will interview a proposed new director for Resonate Global Mission, consider a proposed mandate for a new agency made up of nine former congregational ministries, and hear from ecumenical guests.
“With all of the weighty matters on this agenda, it is important to mention how valuable prayer will be to synod and its deliberations,” said DeVries. “In our preparations we are attempting to live into the directions of Synod 2019 (Acts of Synod 2019, p. 803) to make prayer ‘a more intentional feature of synod's work sessions.’ We have worked hard to create moments when intentional pauses for prayer can happen. We are also asking all CRCNA members to join us in prayer.”
Synod 2023 will begin its sessions on Friday, June 9, at 8:15 a.m. in the Calvin Chapel on the campus of Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Church of the Servant CRC of Grand Rapids will serve as the convening church. Rev. Karen Campbell, pastor of Church of the Servant, will serve as president pro-tem until synod is duly constituted and its officers have been elected. In addition, a community-wide Synodical Service of Prayer and Praise will be held Sunday, June 11, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. at Church of the Servant (3835 Burton Street SE, Grand Rapids).
For news before and during synod, subscribe to Synod News and the CRC News weekly email (which will include links to Banner stories). Or follow the CRCNA on Facebook or on Twitter (#crcsynod). Also visit crcna.org/synod regularly during synod to access the schedule, advisory committee reports, stories, photos, and livestream links and recordings of synod’s deliberations. (Note that the livestream will be on a 20-minute delay.)