Faced with an agenda of more than 700 pages, the 186 delegates to Synod 2010, along with advisers and staff, will have a long, busy week when they meet this month. Synod is the annual leadership meeting of the Christian Reformed Church.
It is never easy to predict a synod’s actions—or which topics will prompt vigorous debate. Likely hot topics this year include climate change, immigration reform, allowing baptized children at the Lord’s Supper, and how we as a denomination live together with differing views on women’s ordination.
A study committee on migration is bringing a large report to this synod (see Banner, May 2010, p. 41). And in the past year, the CRC’s Board of Trustees endorsed a declaration on immigration reform (November 2009, p. 16).
The board also signed a document on climate change (April 2010, p. 15), which some church members didn’t like. That has prompted an overture (proposal) asking synod for guidelines regarding what denominational leaders can sign on the CRC’s behalf.
Two congregations in West Michigan do not feel comfortable belonging to classes (regional groups of churches) that allow women to be delegates to their meetings. So those two congregations are asking synod to allow them to transfer to a distant classis that shares their view that women should not be ordained to ecclesiastical office (May 2010, p. 40). Such a move could be seen to strain the spirit of the agreement in the denomination that we will live in unity despite our differences, and delegates may struggle with whether to allow the transfers.
There is no formal recommendation before Synod 2010 to open the Lord’s Supper to baptized members without a public profession of faith. But synod’s Faith Formation committee that’s been studying the issue is asking for approval in principle of moving in that direction (see p. 12).
While some of these discussions may be difficult, one item that promises to be a highlight is synod’s interview with Rev. Julius Medenblik, the nominee for president of Calvin Theological Seminary.
Synod 2010 will meet June 12-19 at Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, Ill. The Banner will provide updates throughout synod on Facebook and Twitter. Please visit www.thebanner.org to sign up. The July Banner will contain extended synod coverage.
A Year for Revisions
Already noted for its heavy workload, this year’s meeting could also become known as the synod of revisions.Synod 2010 will look at proposed revisions to
- guidelines for handling abuse allegations against church leaders (see The Banner, May 2010, p. 40)
- the Church Order of the Christian Reformed Church (the rules that govern denominational life)
- the three confessions of the CRC: Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and Canons of Dort
- the Ecumenical Charter of the CRC
- the CRC’s Form of Subscription (the document officebearers sign to signify agreement with the above-mentioned confessions).
The proposed changes to the Church Order are to bring it up to date and make wording consistent after years of piecemeal changes. Some overtures (requests) to Synod 2010 ask that specific articles be looked at more closely. There is a request to reject some proposed changes, and another to broaden the revision committee’s mandate and give the Church Order an overhaul.
The proposed revisions to the confessions are in preparation for a hymnal being published jointly by the CRC and the Reformed Church in America. The two denominations use slightly different versions of the confessions, and the proposed changes would harmonize them.
The Ecumenical Relations Committee is seeking revisions to its charter, even though its new charter was adopted in 2006. There is also a proposed addition to its mandate: adding interfaith dialogue to its task of conversing with other Christian churches.
The Form of Subscription is still being worked on by the second synodical committee to attempt to update it. Synod 2010 won’t be voting on it, but it will get a chance to discuss the document, now called “A Covenant for Officebearers.”