Q Now that deacons will be going to synod, I worry that fewer than half of the delegates are theologically trained. Might this adversely affect the life of our denomination?
A On the contrary, I think having deacon delegates will enhance what synod does. When this year’s deliberations take place, we will have an office that has been missing since 1868 fully represented. It occurs to me that almost all the issues synod touches have a diaconal dimension. I never want to underestimate the theological expertise many deacons have even if they haven't gone to seminary. The same is true of elders. Many of them wax eloquent on thorny issues and are blessed with great biblical vision.
But is your assumption true? Yes, synod once rejected the delegation of deacons, since the proposal was for each classis to send a minister, elder, and deacon—thereby reducing the size of synod as a whole and trimming minister delegates from approximately one-half to approximately one-third of the total number of delegates. It didn't surprise me that your concern was quickly brought to the table by those with the vested interest.
The decision of Synod 2015 is different. We keep four delegates from each of the 48 classes, including a minister, an elder, a deacon, and one other officebearer. This could be a commissioned pastor, a deacon, an elder, or a minister. We'll soon find out what classes will do. It would not surprise me if, for quite a few classes, the "other" turns out to be a minister. But it wouldn't scare me if the majority of them turn out to be well-versed elders or deacons.
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