Skip to main content

A COVID-19 Year in Review

January 5, 2022

When CRC News collected the most-read stories of 2020, there was hope that the biggest newsmaker by far – the COVID-19 pandemic – would be behind us by the end of 2021. That has not been the case.

As we look at 2021, we see that COVID continued to cancel and postpone events, as well as forced some difficult decisions about requirements for CRCNA staff in the home offices, and led to feelings of burnout for many pastors.

At the same time, the church has continued to work diligently in many ways and in many places to spread God’s blessing and hope far and wide. New initiatives began to support ministry leaders in need, milestones were celebrated, and several instances of injustice were faced head-on with a call to bring God’s restoration and reconciliation. Here is a look at 15 of the most-read CRC News stories in 2021.

1. Roorda to Leave Canadian Ministries Role

As the CRCNA moved forward with plans to restructure the denomination and adapt senior leadership positions, the CRCNA Canada Corporation board decided in July to part ways with Darren Roorda, who had served as the Canadian ministries director (executive director of the CRCNA Canada Corporation).

2. COD Responds to Attacks

At its February 2021 meeting, the Council of Delegates of the Christian Reformed Church in North America learned that several online comments, social media posts, and even threats of violence had been made against staff members of the CRC’s justice ministries. The COD committed to do something about it.

3. Response to Discovering the Remains of 215 Children

June is recognized as Indigenous History Month across Canada, and the reality of that history came into stark focus with the discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children on the grounds of the residential school near Kamloops, B.C., on the lands of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation.

4. COVID Vaccines Required for CRCNA Staff

All Christian Reformed Church in North America staff who work in either the Grand Rapids, Mich., or Burlington, Ont., offices were required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

5. Pastors and Churches Face Hard Challenges

As the season of Easter marked a full year of dealing with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and ongoing political tensions throughout North America, it seemed appropriate to acknowledge many of the challenges pastors and churches had been facing in the previous 12-13 months.

6. Thoughts on the Derek Chauvin Verdict

Late in the day on Tuesday, Apr. 20, the announcement of a verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial caught the attention of viewers and listeners throughout North America and beyond.

7. COD Cancels Synod 2021 and Delays Report on Sexuality

At its meeting in February, the Council of Delegates voted to cancel Synod 2021 and to defer any discussion or decision about the report from the Committee to Articulate a Foundation-Laying Biblical Theology of Human Sexuality until Synod 2022.

8. Pastor with a Prophetic Voice Dies

A longtime and beloved member of the Coit Community congregation in Grand Rapids, Mich., and a prophetic, denomination-wide voice for the underdog, Albert Hamstra died unexpectedly in July from a massive heart attack.

9. Toolkit Helps Churches Discuss Sexuality Report

To address fault lines of disagreement and division across the denomination, Pastor Church Resources, in consultation with the study committee on human sexuality, developed the Challenging Conversations Toolkit.

10. Colin Watson, Sr. : A Call to Prayer for the Nation

“As I celebrated my birthday on Jan. 6,” wrote Colin Watson, executive director of the CRCNA, “I once again witnessed the explosion of chaos. This time, an occupying force descended on the Capitol in Washington, D.C. We live in a divided country, and the question remains, what do we want to choose – chaos or community?”

11. Nigerian Pastor and Wife Killed

In June we reported that Rev. Emmanuel Bileya, a pastor in the Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria (CRCN), was attacked and killed while working on his farm in Taraba state, Nigeria. His pregnant wife, Juliana, was also attacked and killed as part of ongoing tribal conflicts in the region.

12. Women's Ordination Milestone

Although the number of women being ordained as ministers of the Word or as commissioned pastors in the Christian Reformed Church in North America varies from year to year, the overall number continues to grow. And in 2021, as the CRCNA celebrated the 25th anniversary of women’s ordination, the church reached a milestone in June as its 200th and 201st women pastors were ordained.

13. CRC Leadership Search Begins

At its October meeting, the Council of Delegates  approved and established search committees for candidates to serve in two of three key positions to lead the CRCNA: general secretary and chief administrative officer. At that time, the CRCNA Canada Corporation was in the process of appointing a search committee for the third position: executive director-Canada. For more information, visit

14. Chaplains Reflect on Afghanistan

In August, four Christian Reformed chaplains took time to reflect on experiences they had while they were stationed in Afghanistan. They also spoke about turmoil at the airport in Kabul as the United States and its allies worked to airlift Afghans out of the country.

15. Challenges in the CRCNA and RCA

In February, Colin Watson, Sr., executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, joined in an online conversation with Eddy Alemán, general secretary of the Reformed Church in America, to discuss the partnership between and the challenges facing their denominations.