“We are functioning as the Council of Delegates, but doing synodical business,” said Rev. Paul De Vries, chair, as he opened a special, virtual meeting of the COD on June 16.
Synod, the annual decision-making assembly of the denomination, was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the program committee for Synod 2020 (officers of Synod 2019) reviewed the Agenda for Synod 2020 and the Agenda Supplement to decide which matters could not wait to be dealt with until Synod 2021 (indicated by shading within those documents). They asked the COD, which governs the CRCNA on behalf of synod while it is not in session, to hold a special meeting to deal with these matters.
This meeting took place via video conferencing on June 16 and 17. In the previous week the various subcommittees of the COD also met for a few hours each to deal with individual matters in advisory committees.
Below is a summary of the key outcomes of this meeting:
- Colin P. Watson, Sr., was appointed to the role of interim executive director.
- Steven R. Timmermans was granted the title of executive director emeritus.
- 36 men and women were approved as candidates for the office of minister of the Word (watch video of the presentation of candidates).
- Work around a restructure of CRC governance to better reflect the CRCNA’s Canadian and U.S. identities continued (coverage from The Banner).
- A new ministry plan, Our Journey 2025, was approved (coverage from The Banner).
- Pastor Training for Preventing Abuse of Power was approved (coverage from The Banner).
- A decision was made about how to recognize the 25th anniversary of women’s ordination in 2021 (coverage from The Banner).
- A new name -- Reframe Ministries -- was approved for Back to God Ministries International.
- A new system for ministry shares was approved (coverage from The Banner).
- The work of synodical deputies was approved.
- Several men and women were appointed to denominational and agency boards, committees, and other roles.
- Video presentations from Calvin Theological Seminary, Raise Up Global Ministries, and the Servant Leadership ministries of the CRCNA were watched and recommended to churches. Delegates also approved evaluation reports from these ministries.
- A committee was appointed to hear a personal appeal and continue its processing.
In addition, the COD spent the first part of their meeting on June 17 in a special time of prayer and lament around issues related to COVID-19 and systemic racism in our world.
“There are times in all of our lives when confession and repentance are appropriate and necessary,” said De Vries. “Increasingly in our culture, we don’t know what to do with lament or sorrow. So we go to our own echo chambers and tell ourselves that we are right and others are wrong.”
He added that some contrition is healthy for us, as long as we don’t linger there.
“Repentance involves changing your behavior and moving toward God and toward your brother or sister,” he said.
Delegates then watched a video presentation put together by several COD members. It included the song “Order My Steps in Your Word” performed by Ron Foster, music director at Madison Avenue CRC, and a reading of “A Litany for Those Not Ready for Healing” by Yolanda Pierce.
Following this time of prayer and lament, the COD also made an official statement lamenting racism in our world and supporting denominational leaders who spoke out against it. The statement reads as follows:
By this resolution, the Council of Delegates of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, acting on behalf of synod, declares its abhorrence regarding the sin of systemic racism; its support of our denominational leaders who signed the statement about the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor; and its hope that in the midst of our struggle against racism the power of the gospel of justice and grace in Jesus Christ can be displayed.