Now available online, the Agenda for Synod 2019 provides reports, recommendations, and supplemental material dealing with the range of issues that will come before delegates at this year’s Christian Reformed Church in North America synod.
The synod of the CRCNA represents the congregations of all of the denomination’s regional groupings, called classes. Synod meets each June and is composed of one minister, one elder, one deacon, and one other officebearer from each classis.
Over the course of a week, these men and women discuss, deliberate, and prayerfully discern how to take action on the matters before them.
Some of the issues in this year’s agenda include kinism, worship, creation care, Israel-Palestine, missionary support, immigrant churches, ministry shares, safe church practices, a review of synod itself, and an interim report on the biblical theology of human sexuality.
Synod 2019 will begin its sessions on Friday, June 14, at 8:30 a.m. in the Covenant Fine Arts Center Auditorium on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. Faith Community CRC in Wyoming, Mich., will serve as the convening church of synod.
A community-wide Synodical Service of Prayer and Praise will be held Sunday, June 16, 2019, at 5 p.m. in the College Chapel, Calvin College, at 1835 Knollcrest Circle SE in Grand Rapids.
CRCNA congregations are asked to remember the synodical assembly in intercessory prayers on the Sundays of June 9 and 16.
“Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will equip the synodical delegates to serve in faith and obedience and will lead the Christian Reformed Church in unity, growth, and renewal,” writes Steven Timmermans, executive director of the CRCNA, in an introduction to the agenda.
Here is a look at some of the business synod will be handling:
Ministry Shares — In response to a request from Synod 2016, the Council of Delegates of the denomination (the interim governing body that serves on behalf of synod when it is not in session) has evaluated and prioritized all of its ministries. It is now asking Synod 2019 to “reimagine ministry shares.”
Ministry shares are the means by which the denomination funds shared ministry efforts. The “Reimagining Ministry Shares” report suggests shifting from a model of setting budgets and asking congregations to fund them based on the number of active members in their church, to a model of having each church determine how much they can contribute toward this covenantal system of doing ministry together.
Specifically, it recommends that synod
move the ministry-share year from a calendar-year setting to that of the fiscal year July 1 through June 30, effective beginning July 1, 2021.
adopt a ministry-share rate for the period of Jan. 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022, to facilitate the transition to a July 1-June 30 fiscal year.
request church councils to prayerfully consider their response to the ministry-share request for the period of July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022.
instruct the classes, beginning at their fall 2020 meetings, to dedicate sufficient time to consider the ministry share contributions projected by each church for the coming fiscal year; and, working with the assembly, determine the best way to maximize the pledged support for denominational ministry.
Human Sexuality — Synod 2019 will also look at an interim report from a synodical study committee mandated to “articulate a foundation-laying biblical theology of human sexuality.”
The central aim of this theological study committee, which will give its full report to Synod 2021, is “to provide concise yet clear ethical guidance for what constitutes a holy and healthy Christian sexual life, and in light of this to serve the church with pastoral, ecclesial, and missional guidance that explains how the gospel provides redemptive affirmation and hope for those experiencing sexual questioning, temptation, and sin.”
The Agenda for Synod 2019 is encouraging delegates to discuss the interim report and provide feedback to the committee.
Synod Review Task Force — A third major topic to be addressed by Synod 2019 will be a review that includes proposed changes to synod itself. In 2016, a major task force was appointed to research, examine, and review the principles, practices, and functions of this annual meeting. The group shared its findings and recommendations in November 2018 (see CRC News, Nov. 7), and Synod 2019 will decide whether or not to adopt the task force’s recommendations.
As with every synod, individual congregations and classes can send overtures to synod with a request for a decision or action on an issue of importance to them. This year’s agenda includes 23 such overtures, nine of which present reactions to the Synod Review Task Force’s recommendations.