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Broadening Your Inspire Experience

June 8, 2022
Photo: Heather Brooks

Several Christian Reformed Church in North America ministries are inviting Inspire 2022 participants to come early for celebration, fellowship, or training at a variety of preconference events.

Inspire 2022 is a gathering for ministry leaders and volunteers from Christian Reformed and Reformed churches across the continent to experience fellowship, learning, worship, prayer, and renewal. The event is set to take place at the Tinley Park Convention Center near Chicago Aug. 4-6, 2022.

The preconference events will take place on Aug. 3 or the morning of Aug. 4 and require additional registration.

Beginning on Aug. 3 will be a dinner celebrating 25 years of women’s ordination to ecclesiastical office. Elaine May, women’s leadership developer with Pastor Church Resources, said, “My vision is to fill the event with men and women who are grateful for the denomination’s welcoming the gifts of women in their churches.”

At the banquet, keynote speaker Dr. Ruth Haley Barton will present “Women and Men in Transforming Community: Renewing Our Vision for Partnering Together in Christ.” The registration fee covers the dinner as well as a morning workshop on Aug. 4, where author Rob Dixon will discuss “Together in Ministry: Women and Men in Flourishing Partnerships.”

May added, “All are welcome to come! Women and men, young and old. We will reflect on our shared history, give thanks for the contributions of women, and recommit ourselves to the work of women and men in equal partnership serving the church of Jesus Christ.”

The Office of Race Relations is celebrating 50 years in ministry and is offering Engage as a preconference event. Engage will include in-depth workshops, lunch, and ceremonies from First Nations fellow believers on Aug. 4.

Idella Winfield, administrative coordinator for Race Relations, said she would encourage everyone to join in celebrating this anniversary with Race Relations. “Acknowledging this milestone gives us the opportunity to remember and honor 50 years of Race Relations ministry in the CRC. Our hope is that all can come and celebrate the diversity in the CRC and get to know each other's stories,” she said.

Winfield noted that at a previous Engage Conference she  felt “honored to celebrate other ethnicities. Our time of worship felt like we were at a revival, connecting through the Spirit with our brothers and sisters in Christ.” Discounts are available for students and church groups of six or more participants.

Safe Church Ministry is planning “Being a Safe Church for Ministry Leaders” as a preconference event on Aug. 4. Participants can choose from two six-hour workshops—one focusing on abuse of power, and the other on restorative practices.

The Abuse of Power workshop is designed for ministry leaders such as pastors and council members, and it fulfills the recommendation of the Addressing the Abuse of Power Committee Report for all ordained pastors to participate in abuse of power training.

The Restorative Practices workshop will provide training on facilitating listening circles (similar to training for leading the Challenging Conversations Toolkit) and an opportunity to practice planning, facilitating, and being a participant in listening circles. This training is licensed by FaithCARE and will fulfill some requirements of congregations seeking to be a part of the Restorative Congregations cohort administered through Thriving Practices.

“Both workshops are designed to equip ministry leaders to nurture healthy cultures in their churches and ministries,” said Safe Church Ministry director Amanda Benckhuysen. She explained, “In the CRC tradition we tend to spend a lot of effort and energy on right beliefs. And right belief is important. But when we consider Jesus, he not only taught the good news; he lived it, reflecting the love and grace of God in the ways he interacted with those around him. He treated people, especially those on the margins, with dignity, honor, and respect. In many ways, it was the way he treated people that set him apart from other religious leaders of his day. If we want to be faithful to the gospel, we would do well to follow the pattern of Jesus. These two workshops invite ministry leaders to consider how we might be more intentional about living out the gospel in our congregations to create cultures where the value and dignity of every person is honored.”

In addition, a one-day workshop on church communications, with Bryan Haley of Church Juice, along with others, is designed to help church administrators and communicators come together, learn about their roles and how the denomination can support them, and network with others.

Haley noted, “We're excited to offer the one-day workshop before the start of Inspire. The Church Juice workshop will center on equipping, engaging, and energizing church communicators and administrators to continue in their kingdom work. Our team has recognized the need for community among church communication leaders, church administrators, and others in communication roles; while there are lots of networks and support systems for other roles in the church (i.e., lead pastors, youth pastors, worship), these opportunities are lacking for others serving in churches across North America. We've specifically designed this day to provide space to grow in relationships and skills.”

Each of these events has a registration fee of $50 and allows participants to interact more deeply on a topic of interest than they would during the rest of the Inspire event. Registration links and information can be found here.

Ecumenical guests will also gather before the Inspire conference begins in the evening on Thursday, Aug. 4, for prayer and fellowship. Colin Watson, executive director of the CRCNA, noted that representatives from 10 partner denominations were invited. As of May 31, four have confirmed attendance. While CRC leaders hope more will be able to attend, they realize that ongoing travel difficulties related to COVID-19 and other immigration restrictions may limit ecumenical participation. The four confirmed participants are from the CRC in East Africa, the Sudanese Reformed Church, the CRC of Sierra Leone, and the CRC in Haiti. Watson added, “Our gathering at Inspire will be for mutual edification, encouragement, and prayer.”

Dr. William Koopmans will lead a workshop titled “E-Relations: The Role and History of Ecumenical Relations in the CRCNA” to gathered ecumenical guests and CRC leaders. The workshop, said Koopmans, will focus on biblical principles, theological considerations, and historical developments that have shaped the CRCNA’s engagement in ecumenical relations through the decades. He added, “Opportunity will also be given for participants to ask questions and offer insights and feedback with respect to some of the ever-changing aspects of our denomination’s involvement with other churches and ecclesiastical organizations.”

For more information and links to everything you need to know to make plans to attend Inspire 2022, visit