Synod 2010 added to the mandate of the denomination’s Ecumenical Relations Committee, giving it the task of representing the CRC in interfaith dialogue and providing advice and resources to help congregations with that dialogue.
It also changed the name of the committee to reflect the additional task. It is now the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee.
Not all delegates were in favor of the change. Rev. LeRoy Christoffels, Classis Minnkota, noted that it changes the nature of the committee quite a bit. “What would be the purpose of [interfaith] dialogue at a high level without evangelism being involved?” he asked.
Rev. William Koopmans, chair of the committee, said there are contexts when emphasis on evangelism would not be appropriate in a pluralistic society. “When there are interfaith meetings, it would probably not be appropriate to engage in public evangelism,” he said. “It is precisely because those questions are being raised that a committee needs to address it. The complexity of the questions makes a good argument in favor of needing this.”
Koopmans noted that in the context of congregations and missions, interfaith questions are the reality. He also noted that the reason for changing the name of the committee was to underscore that interfaith dialogue is distinct from relating ecumenically to other Christian churches. “The primary concern of [the committee] was not to blur ecumenicity and interfaith dialogue,” he said.
Rev. Dan Roeda, Classis Wisconsin, said that when he saw the violence that occurs between Christians and Muslims in places like Nigeria, it made him think. “We as spiritual leaders in our communities need to get together and promote the peace of all,” he said. “In our ecumenical context, we can promote that dialogue.”