Council of Delegates Meets
The Council of Delegates of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) met at the Grand Rapids, Mich., denominational offices on May 5 and 6. It was the first time the group had assembled in person since February 2020.
The meeting began with a reflection on 2 Corinthians 1:8 and the well-known Easter song, “Low in the Grave He Lay.” In many ways, said Paul De Vries (former COD chair and now a U.S. member at large), the CRCNA today is like that song. Christ was crucified, dead, and buried. The church was afraid, and yet Jesus arose. In the same way, we have been through several years of pandemic. We have struggled with issues related to restructuring and are on the cusp of a historic synod.
“Some of us are fearful and wonder how we will rise up to face the challenges of the church today,” he explained. “And yet, like that early church, we forget that our hope is not based on our own work. Jesus has risen from the grave! We need to place our trust in him.”
With those thoughts in mind, the council, which consists of one delegate from each Christian Reformed classis plus up to 10 at-large members, spent two days in deliberation, decision making, prayer, and celebration.
Here are a few highlights from the meeting:
- Colin P. Watson, Sr., executive director, and John Bolt, deputy executive director and chief financial officer, were thanked for their years of service. Both will retire this summer.
- A search for a new chief administrative officer (CAO) was relaunched; this included the appointment of a new chair for the search team and the reappointment of several search team members. Two additional members are still needed.
- The U.S. Corporation of the CRCNA appointed Joel Huyser to serve as U.S. director of ministry operations, and the full Council of Delegates recommended that a new ecclesiastical corporation be created to house the new office of general secretary (see Banner story).
- Several steps were taken with respect to preventing abuse of power in the church. This included appointing people to a Dignity Team, approving a child safeguarding policy, and approving a template termination letter that can be used by churches and that removes nondisclosure agreement language.
- Ministry-share allocations and the budget for 2022-2023 were discussed and approved. It was noted that ministry-share pledges from churches are down and that ministry budgets had to be adjusted as a result (see Banner story).
- The COD endorsed a proposal to appoint Joel Huyser to the role of interim Resonate Global Mission director pending Zachary King’s appointment by Synod 2022 to the role of general secretary. A long-range international plan for mission was approved, and a new hire for a church planting leader was celebrated.
- Several significant anniversaries for CRCNA ministries were celebrated. This included 80 years for Chaplaincy and Care Ministry, 50 years for Race Relations, 40 years for Disability Concerns, and 40 years for Pastor Church Resources.
- The new general secretary (to be approved and appointed at Synod 2022) was tasked with gathering a discussion group to study the integration of international churches into the composition of the CRC. The general secretary was also asked to facilitate a “One Family” conversation related to the place of diversity in the CRCNA both now and in the future.
- Dr. Neil Carlson of Datawise Consulting led a presentation regarding the decline of membership in Christian Reformed congregations. He noted demographic changes in birth rates as a key factor and encouraged churches to welcome refugees, immigrants, widows, and orphans into their midst.
- Outgoing COD members were thanked for their service.
An additional summary of the meeting was shared by The Banner.