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Synod 2023 Concludes

June 21, 2023
Synod 2023
Synod 2023
Steven Herppich

For seven days, 190 men and women gathered in the chapel of Calvin University to pray, discuss, deliberate, and discern together about matters related to the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

During this synod meeting, several important decisions were made, including the appointment of Kevin DeRaaf as the new director of Resonate Global Mission, affirmation of the appointment of Jamie McIntosh as the new Canadian codirector of World Renew, and the appointments of two new Calvin Theological Seminary faculty. 

Synod also adopted a revised Code of Conduct for Ministry Leaders and recommended it for all leaders in congregational and classis ministries throughout the denomination. In addition, the annual assembly dissolved the mandates of nine former congregational ministries and approved their reconstitution as part of a newly formed agency called Thrive, dedicated to equipping and encouraging congregations. Synod also discussed task force reports about bivocational pastors and ecclesiastical marriages. 

While these and many other administrative and ministry matters were decided at Synod 2023, deliberations related to Synod 2022’s decisions on human sexuality were the most closely watched and debated. Over 1,200 people tuned in to the synod webcast to listen to those discussions.

“Coming to synod, delegates were aware that last year’s decisions were weighty and had many implications for individuals, congregations, classes, and the denomination,” said Zachary King, general secretary of the CRCNA. In fact, there were 40 overtures to Synod 2023 requesting clarity or revision about those implications, and an additional 20 dealing with discipline for those not in compliance. 

With this in mind, “Synod 2023 was deliberate about surrounding these discussions with prayer. They also strove to truly listen to each other, with several delegates on all sides of the issue shedding tears as they discussed the probable outcomes of their decisions,” said King. 

In the end, Synod 2023 upheld all of the decisions of Synod 2022 with respect to human sexuality. It also provided greater clarity about how individuals, congregations, and classes should understand and implement those decisions. However, this year’s decisions were not unanimous, and some delegates left the proceedings early in protest.

Due to time constraints, matters related to the gravamen process – by which officebearers can express their difficulty with a matter in the CRC’s confessions – were deferred to Synod 2024 for deliberation and decision. 

“While decisions were not unanimous, and while some things were passed on to next year’s synod for debate, there was a consistent refrain from those who disagreed that they love each other and want to find ways to remain together as a church,” said King. “We pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to work in and through us as we strive to do this going forward.”

Coverage of the decisions of Synod 2023 has been provided by The Banner. You can find a list of stories from the first five days of synod here. In addition, a list of stories from the remainder of synod follows: