The Christian Reformed Church is taking off in new and sometimes uncertain directions, said Rev. Joel Boot. But God is guiding the flight plan.
In a speech to Synod 2013, the CRC executive director likened the denomination’s new initiatives to a flight that may seem uncharted but arcs toward a promising future.
“We’re launching into a new kind of future with the faith and the Great Commission that is our past,” Boot told delegates. “They haven’t changed at all. But just about everything else has.”
And while he is, unexpectedly, “still in the cockpit” after a nominee for executive director withdrew in May, Boot vowed, “As surely as I am standing in front of you tonight, I am convinced that God is still the pilot.”
Boot’s half-hour address aroused a warm response from some 200 delegates and advisers as he outlined the challenges and opportunities facing the CRC. Officers and trustees laid hands on him to pray at the conclusion.
Boot said he thought the presentation would be his “swan song”—“I already had an exit interview,” he said, to laughter. Yet he expressed determination to continue in the position he’s held since 2011, pending a new search.
Synod president Rev. William Koopmans lauded Boot for his vision and leadership.
“You’re seeing what God is doing, and you’re helping us to see that,” Koopmans said. “We thank you for that kind of leadership because that’s the kind of leadership we need: bold dynamic action.”
Delegates joined in praise, both from the floor and on Twitter.
“Tonight I'm feeling something powerful going on,” tweeted Rev. Daniel Brown, Classis Eastern Canada. “It feels like hope!”
Rev. Bruce Persenaire, Classis Central California, said Boot had kept his “pastor’s heart” while managing the denomination.
“It’s your pastor’s heart that I believe has made (the CRC headquarters) a healthy place again, and a place that can help us as a denomination look forward to the future,” Persenaire said.
Boot inspired praise by listing ambitious new ventures, from a task force reviewing the CRC’s structure and culture to its efforts to increase diversity in leadership and ecumenical work with global churches.
“There’s a hunger and zeal out there to work together on the mission of God in the world,” he said.
Even the dissolution of Faith Alive Christian Resources could lead to new beginnings through deeper reflection on faith formation, he said: “Out of what could be construed as the death of one agency, a new mission is being born.”
And he rebuked those who say the CRC is dying, declaring, “The Christian Reformed Church in North America is not the Titanic. We do ourselves no service and God no honor by declaring we’re on our way down.
“Even the gates of hell itself can’t prevail against the will and way of God,” he vowed. “It’s time we said and celebrate it.”
Synod 2013 is meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. from June 7-14. For continuous Banner coverage of Synod 2013, please follow The Banner on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted at www.thebanner.org several times daily. For CRC Communications releases, webcast, and live blogging, please visit www.crcna.org/synod. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.