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When it comes to finances, synod does more than just set ministry share. It also maintains two separate lists of ministries that it recommends/accredits to congregations for offerings.

But this is not some sneaky tax. If a church wants to ignore these lists entirely and receive offerings exclusively to fund Aunt Margaret’s gout medication, it’s free to do that. No denominational revenue collector will call.

These lists simply help churches know which ministries are worthy of their support. So, for example, BEEF (the Banner Editor’s Enrichment Fund) would probably not make either list anytime soon.

The first list names agencies and institutions directly related to the Christian Reformed Church. Since synod has better things to do than prepare such a list, it lets the denomination’s Board of Trustees draft it, then synod approves it. No sweat there. Synod 2008 dutifully adopted the list without a bleat or beller.

Not so with the second list. That list is “funner” than the first because it’s more volatile. New ministries tied to the denominational apron strings are a bit of a rarity these days, so the first list doesn’t show much movement. But the second list is made up of nondenominational agencies, and new ones continue popping up like gophers in a dry spell. So the Board of Trustees has to do some digging to see which of those deserve to be on the accredited list.

Now the BOT/synod isn’t quite as excited about the second list because it doesn’t actually recommend the ministries; it simply accredits them. Kind of like the father of your girlfriend when you took her out on your first date.

So here’s the thing. The Board of Trustees decided not to accredit four nondenominational agencies that asked to be placed on the list. It probably figured it had to draw the line somewhere or we’d have to pass the plate 10 times each worship service to make a dent in that list.

But Providence Christian College, International Aid, the International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education, and the Canadian Christian Education Foundation didn’t take the news lightly. They appealed to synod to place them on the list despite the BOT’s Scrooge-like proposition.

Synod opted to place them on the list after all, tilting more in the direction of Santa.

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