When the Christian Reformed Church’s Board of Trustees made changes to the denomination’s administrative structure early last year, Synod 2009 approved the changes.
However, delegates to synod (the church’s annual leadership meeting) also instructed the board to develop guidelines on how it would involve the broader church, especially synod, when considering future significant structural changes (see “Executive Director Explains Structure Changes,” July 2009).
At its February meeting, the board adopted its response to synod. It asks that Synod 2010 affirm that “significant structural change” refers to alterations in the mandate of the board or those of CRC agencies or ministries.
Rev. Ken Boonstra, who chaired the committee that wrote the response, said, “What quickly unfolded for [the committee] was trying to clarify the meaning of ‘significant structural change.’ Synod thought what [the board] did was significant structural change, and we didn’t think it was.” He acknowledged that the committee defined it fairly narrowly.
Board of Trustees member Rev. Paul Vanderkooy questioned whether the report answers what synod asked. “We’re saying we don’t feel those structural changes happened, so we’re trying to tell [synod] what structural change is,” he said. “My sense was [that synod] was much more concerned about lines of reporting. Now we’re saying, ‘We don’t agree so we’re going to tell you what we think.’”
Boonstra agreed it’s a dilemma. “It was the opinion of our committee that what [synod] saw as significant structural change, we didn’t see as [that]. So this is how we understand what it is.”
BOT member John Rop said he, too, wrestled with the connection between synod’s request and the board’s response. “I don’t think there is a right answer,” he said. “The underlying issue is an atmosphere of distrust on the part of synod to the [board].”
CRC Executive Director Rev. Jerry Dykstra said there ought not to be tension between the board and synod. “The board is made up of 30 people elected by synod itself,” he said. “It is the board of synod.”
In the end the board accepted the report and will send it to Synod 2010 as its response to the request of Synod 2009.