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Photo: Karen Huttenga
Photo by Karen Huttenga

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Photo: Karen Huttenga
Denise Posie leads the women’s forum at Synod 2017.
Photo by Karen Huttenga

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Photo: Karen Huttenga
Several women in denominational leadership spoke about their experience. (L-r): Joyce Borger, Bonnie Nicholas, Lis Van Harten, Denise Posie, Carol Bremer-Bennett.
Photo by Karen Huttenga

On Monday evening during Synod 2017, about 35 women met to discuss—and celebrate—their roles as female leaders in the Christian Reformed Church.

The group was convened by Denise Posie, recently named director of leadership development for the denomination.

“I really feel encouraged, empowered, and affirmed in doing this work [of developing women as leaders], because there is a need,” said Posie. “This is a historic moment.”

Posie said the Women’s Leadership Initiative began spontaneously in March 2016, when 11 women employed at the denominational offices attended a one-day conference on women’s leadership together.

Following the conference, the group continued to meet once a month.

“To be in a room with all women at the denominational building was so different,” said Bonnie Nicholas, director of the CRC’s Safe Church Ministry. “It has been fun—I love it!”

Joyce Borger, director of Worship Ministries, said she has worked for the denomination for 13 years. “The culture has started to change. I hope that resonates throughout our denomination. We’re often invited to a table and we’re expected to be thankful. This time we get to set the table.”

Posie asked the women in the room to introduce themselves and describe their leadership roles in the church. They named the roles of deacon, elder, treasurer, worship director, member of the synodical review committee, vice president of council, outreach director, GEMS coordinator, head pastor, candidate for ministry, chair of Diaconal Ministries Canada, director of Safe Church ministry, director of Worship Ministries, director of communications and marketing, co-director World Renew, co-director of Pastor Church Resources, and many others. Several also noted that they are the first woman to represent their classis at synod.

Posie also asked the women to celebrate together how women have been leaders at synod.

Melissa Van Dyk, serving as a women’s advisor at Synod 2017, said that seeing women such as Sarah Roelofs and Thea Leunk on the stage was incredible. Roelofs is the new director of the Chaplaincy and Care ministry and Leunk is synod’s vice president this year.

“I’m thankful that, through this synod, God has given us opportunities to talk to people who have a different opinion about us serving in the kingdom,” said Mary Bouwma, a delegate from Classis Grand Rapids East.

Many other achievements were named, and the women applauded each one.

Posie acknowledged women who have been working to advance female leadership in the denomination for decades. This includes Classis Grand Rapids South delegate, Judy Otte, who recalled a group of women writing letters, praying, and petitioning for women’s leadership in the denomination decades ago.

“This is not a new thing that is happening. This is something that is continuing. God is going to use us—women serving in the CRC—to continue to do this work,” Posie affirmed.

Posie said her role is to lay a good foundation. “I am exploring what informal and formal ways we can help women to embrace their calling and serve graciously in that calling.” She has been working part-time in leadership development for the denomination for about two years. Her first step in her full-time role, which adds the emphasis on women, will be to form an advisory team made up of people who are already passionate about developing female leadership.

“When we know we’re called to something, it’s amazing what God does,” Posie exclaimed.

For continuous coverage of Synod 2017 including the live webcast, news, video recordings, photos, reports, liveblog, social media links, and more visit www.crcna.org/synod.