Feb. 2023 Council of Delegates Highlights
The Council of Delegates (COD) of the Christian Reformed Church in North America met via video conference Feb. 15-17, 2023.
During this meeting, the COD spent time in prayer, received reports, held discussions, and made decisions as follows:
- Heard from Zachary King, general secretary, about recent work including the in loco committee meeting with Neland Avenue CRC, a review of the Office of General Secretary, and the progress of the “One Family” conversation exploring diverse leadership in the CRCNA.
- Heard from Shirley DeVries, chief administrative officer, about her first few weeks in this role, including implementation of the Structure and Leadership Task Force (SALT) report and a review of ministry shares.
- Interviewed Kevin DeRaaf, agreed to his nomination, and recommended that Synod 2023 approve him as director of Resonate Global Mission. The search team for this position was dismissed with thanks (see story).
- Endorsed a revised CRCNA Code of Conduct and related revisions/additions to the Church Order. Recommended the report to synod, which encourages all councils and classes to require assent to the Code of Conduct by all staff and volunteers who provide leadership in churches and classes. Instructed the general secretary to oversee the development of training modules related to the Code of Conduct.
- Heard an update on the consolidation of nine entities into one Congregational Ministries agency. Recommended that Synod 2023 recognize this new entity as a ministry agency of the CRCNA; approve its mission, vision, mandate, and core postures; conclude the previous mandates of the previously separate ministries and instead instruct the new entity to use these previous directives as valuable information from synod regarding desired denominational support for congregations. A name for this agency will be presented to the COD in May and recommended to synod for approval.
- Discussed the feasibility of holding future Inspire events. Instructed staff to discontinue holding large-scale events and instead to explore holding smaller-scale and/or regional events on particular ministry themes. (See Banner coverage)
- Heard updates on CRCNA financial information and endorsed allocations for the distribution of ministry shares in 2023-24. (See Banner coverage)
- Adopted a theme for Synod 2023 focused on prayer, Philippians 2, and being united through Christ's posture of humility.
- Watched a video with testimonies from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) leaders in the CRCNA and spent time in small groups discussing what can be done to create spaces where people of all ethnicities have a sense of belonging in the church.
- Discussed membership trends within the CRCNA, specifically noting that healthy ecosystems within a denomination include biblical preaching, a missional focus, authentic relationships, discipleship, church planting, and a focus on diversity and the “growing edges” of the church (the communities from which new members and congregations are coming). Instructed staff to report back in May on how these things are being addressed and measured.
- Heard that exceptions to the Statement of Agreement with the Beliefs of the CRCNA were granted to COD members who requested them. Revised the process for future exceptions so that both the number of exceptions and specific confessional references will be shared with the full COD for sake of transparency.
- Looked at proposed changes to the COD Governance Handbook and provided feedback. A final draft will be presented in May for approval and forwarded to synod for adoption.
- Noted that the 2023 denominational survey is now open. Churches who are part of this year’s cohort are encouraged to promote the survey to their members before the March 15 deadline.
- Noted the upcoming retirement of Lis VanHarten and thanked her for her years of service to Pastor Church Resources and Congregational Ministries.
- Received reports from the director of ReFrame Ministries, the director of Resonate Global Mission, the Banner Advisory committee, the Church Order Review Task Force, ethnic diversity, the Abuse of Power monitoring team, and the group leading the “One Family Conversation.”
- Recommended that Synod 2023 approve Lee Street CRC (Wyoming, Mich.) as the convening church for Synod 2024. Noted that all churches (regardless of geographical location) are invited to consider this opportunity for future synods.
- In the interim of synod, appointed people to serve with the Judicial Code Committee, the Reformed Partnership for Congregational Renewal board, and the Bible Translations Committee; in interim roles on the COD; as ethnic advisors to Synod 2023; as young adult representatives to Synod 2023; and as synodical deputies, and alternate synodical deputies.
In addition to the meeting of the COD, the boards of several CRC corporate entities met separately on Feb. 16 and reported the following:
CRCNA Canada Board
- Heard an update on joint ministries.
- Received reports from the transitional executive director, senior leader for antiracism and intercultural conciliation, the Canadian Indigenous Ministries Committee, the Centre for Public Dialogue, the Committee for Contact with the Government, Human Resources, Communications, Congregational Ministries, and Finance.
- Approved a new terms of reference document for the Decolonization and Antiracism Collective.
- Approved an annual plan for the Centre for Public Dialogue.
- Endorsed a mandate for a Canadian Corporation Governance Committee.
- Discussed a recently held Canada-wide conversation.
ReFrame Ministries Canada Board
- Will meet at a later date.
CRCNA U.S. Board
- Heard reports from the director of ministry operations and the director of administrative operations.
- Authorized officers of the U.S. Corporation, in consultation with the COD executive committee, to act in a legal capacity with regard to the denominational property in Grand Rapids, Mich.
- Established the position of U.S. director of ministry operations as a full-time executive level position and asked the officers of the U.S. Corporation to appoint a search team.
- Did not approve new members for the U.S. Committee for Guidance and Support to the Office of Social Justice.
- Heard an update on joint ministries.
- Heard an update on and discussed ministry shares.
ReFrame Ministries U.S. Board
- Approved the minutes from a previous meeting.
- Endorsed all nonecclesiastical actions of the COD relative to the joint operation of collective nonecclesiastical ministry activities of the CRCNA.