On the last day of Synod 2009, a request from a delegate resulted in the denomination’s executive director, Rev. Jerry Dykstra, giving a detailed explanation of the restructuring of senior denominational leadership that took place last fall. (See “Is CRC Decision-Making in Too Few Hands?” June 2009, p. 12).
The request came from Rev. Martin Dam, Classis Hamilton. It followed a debate two days earlier about the fact that the restructuring left persons of color without a voice on the denomination’s senior administrative council. (See “Synod Requests Steps to Increase Diversity in CRC Leadership,” p. 34.)
Rev. William Veenstra, also from Classis Hamilton and synod’s second clerk, supported the request for an explanation, expressing concern that the CRC is “becoming increasingly focused on efficiency and effectiveness but is losing its ecclesiastical quality.”
After Dykstra described and explained the new structure, delegates had an opportunity to respond, and they had many questions.
“You said you have a plan in motion [for increasing multiethnic representation], but we haven’t had any specifics. What assurance do we have?” asked Rev. Emmett Harrison, Classis Lake Erie.
Veenstra raised concerns about what is happening to the Canadian identity within a bi-national denomination.
The questions became more heated until Tobias Lewis, an elder from Classis Atlantic Northeast, said, “We need to trust our executive director. It must be daunting to have more than 180 micromanagers.”
The restructuring and the creation of the Network for Congregations by the Board of Trustees also generated discussion about what decisions require approval by synod before being implemented.
As a result, Synod 2009 instructed the board to develop guidelines on how to involve the broader church community, through synod, when significant structural changes are being considered.
About the Author
Roxanne VanFarowe is a freelance writer who claims both Canadian and American citizenship and grew up in the Christian Reformed Church. She is a member of Blacknall Presbyterian Church in Durham, North Carolina.