Photo: Kristen deRoo Vanderberg
The Council of Delegates met Feb. 20-21, 2019, at Brookside CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Photo by Kristen deRoo Vanderberg

Binationality is an asset to be cultivated as we together engage God’s mission in our various contexts.”
The Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Christian Reformed Church in North America made this statement in 2013. During their February meeting, the Council of Delegates (COD), which replaced the BOT in 2017, decided it is time to check in and see how we are doing at fulfilling this task.

The original idea for exploring the binationality of the denomination sprang from a report called “Cultivating Binationality in the CRCNA,” which the BOT approved in May 2013 and synod adopted in June 2013 (Acts of Synod 2013, p. 610).

Among other things, this report encouraged the CRCNA to celebrate its Canadian and U.S. identities, to regularly reflect on how these contexts shape ministry, and to find places where the work in one country can bless that in the other.

“The CRCNA values being a binational denomination,” explained Don Draayer of Classis Lake Superior as he presented the idea to the COD last week.

The COD serves as the governing board for the denomination in the interim between annual synods. It includes delegates from each of the CRC’s classes (regional groupings of churches). These U.S. and Canadian delegates met Feb. 21-22, 2019, at Brookside CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich., to discuss several matters, including this request to review the denomination’s binationality.

 “Given that we are five years into the cultivation desired by synod and the [former] Board of Trustees, we would do well to review our progress,” said Draayer.

In response to this request, the COD voted to appoint an ad hoc group consisting of both U.S. and Canadian COD members. This group will discern a process that will help them review the current reality of binationality within the CRCNA as well as propose recommendations for the future.

The process could include talking with Canadian and U.S. CRCNA staff, along with conducting a survey of other constituents such as the stated clerks of classes. The goal of the ad hoc group will be to develop a report about their work, including recommendations, to be brought to the October 2019 Council of Delegates meeting.

“Five years ago, the denomination had a dream and a plan that we would increase the health of our binational entity,” said Darren Roorda, Canadian ministries director for the CRCNA, who pointed out that many of the recommendations of the 2013 report have already begun. This includes the creation of a triennial Canadian National Gathering, such as the one scheduled to be held in Edmonton, Alta., in May 2019.

“I am eager to have the joyous and difficult conversations that this review may entail. It is by walking through a process that respects each other's different natures that this is best accomplished,” Roorda said.