Reflecting on 2 Timothy 1:8-12 during morning worship, Rev. Tom Bomhof asked the delegates of both the RCA and CRCNA synods how they suffer for Christ today. The answer, he said, lies in carrying on Christ’s mission in the world. Delegates then had some time to talk in smaller groups about what that might look like in the future as the two denominations work closely together.
These joint advisory sessions took place for three hours on Saturday morning. Based on previously stated preferences, RCA and CRCNA delegates were divided into mixed groups to discuss four topics: interfaith engagement, congregational renewal, collaboration between the RCA and CRCNA, and brainstorming a “new creation” for the future of the two denominations.
“This was the most exciting part of synod for me thus far,” said Rev. Richard Bodini from Holland Marsh CRC in Holland March, Ont., who helped to moderate a conversation around collaboration. He said that his group was very encouraging, collegial, and supportive of the idea of for working more strongly in a collaborative way. "It was a blessed time of sharing and dreaming, understanding, and planning," he said.
Dr. Jim Payton from Mount Hope, Ont. also enjoyed the conversations. “I participated in one of the Inter-faith joint advisory committees,” he said. “It was good; I found that virtually everyone in the group was positive on interfaith engagements and that the two denominations work closely together on this.”
“While not all agreed, they were able to speak well to the possibilities for the future, even with a variety of ideas of what the desired future might be,” added Rev. Dan Meinema from Hebron CRC in Renfrew, Ont. who moderated another group. “The work of the delegates of the two denominations was done very well with a sense of care for each other and for the two denominations. The greatest concern was that they all wanted what would be best for the Church universal, not just building our own little kingdoms.”
Claire McWilliams from Loop CRC in Chicago, ll., said that the intentionality of meeting together was also important. "Our group reflected on how the very act of meeting together and being in conversation with each other fosters unity. The act of meeting to have these conversations is an important step in the process of exploring what we can do together," she said.
That is also what Rev. Jana VanderLaan of Sahali Fellowship CRC in Kamloops, B.C. discovered. "Our time together was a place for pain to be expressed and laughter to be shared. As a moderator, I sensed that the group was surprised by their creativity and were inspired by the pictures that were shared. At the end, we confirmed that community was created and will extend beyond our time together."
The results of these conversations will be reported out to a joint session of the RCA general synod and the CRC synod on Monday morning.