Elder Sarah Cook, Classis Eastern Canada, was delighted recently when she received an heirloom family photograph from a relative. In the photo, her great-great-grandfather Rev. Bulens is addressing the annual synod of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (also known as the GKN). It was the Synod of 1879, held at Dordrecht, the oldest city in the Netherlands.
Ministry Associate Role Still Under Review
Synod 2008 voted to give more time to the denomination’s Candidacy Committee to struggle with different routes to ministry in the Christian Reformed Church.
Overtures (requests) were sent to synod this year asking for revisions to the church’s ordination paths. One communication called the process for ordaining ministers from other denominations “rigid, uncaring, and confusing.”
Another overture argued for more latitude for and recognition of ministry associates and leadership positions for specialists in the CRC such as preaching evangelists and youth ministry directors.
The values and requirements of theological education and ministerial experience for aspiring ministers of the Word were hotly debated.
Rev. Paul Vander Klay, Classis Central California, said, “I’ve got many ministry associate friends who are doing exactly the same jobs as ministers of the Word, but they have different credentials. We fundamentally have two credentials for one task, that’s the status quo.”
“Why did I come to the Christian Reformed Church?” asked Elder Fatu Auau, Classis Greater Los Angeles. “The world is rough. Anyone can preach in the calm, but it’s those who go through seminary and learn the standards of God who can face the storm.”
The Candidacy Committee’s new full-time director, Rev. David Koll, assured delegates that the roles of ministry associates are under intense discussion by the committee.
“How do we honor ministry associates, how do we use them, how do we preserve our traditional value of theological education, and how do we blend it all together? It’s very complex, and it’s tremendously important,” he said.
Synod decided that time is needed to allow the new director and his committee to carry out their work and develop effective partnerships with classes (regional groups of churches in the CRC).