When Synod 2011 (the annual leadership meeting of the Christian Reformed Church) meets in June, it will hold a combined session for one afternoon with the synod of the Reformed Church in America (RCA).
It is a show of unity and ecumenicity but also the maiden voyage of both synods going paperless, using shared hardware and technology platforms.
The dates of the two synods generally fall close together. But this year the RCA synod will convene just hours after the CRC synod ends, using the same building and floor setup on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. The IT staff of both denominations will work through both synods to ensure all systems run smoothly.
To take advantage of the proximity of dates, delegates of both synods will lunch together on the last day of the CRC synod, followed by a joint session celebrating the ways the two denominations do ministry together.
On the agenda of the CRC synod is a proposal to approve a combined CRC/RCA translation of the three Reformed theological standards (Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort). The combined translations are intended for a new hymnal being produced by Faith Alive Christian Resources for both denominations.
The plan is to discuss the proposed translations earlier in the week, then hold the vote to adopt them during the combined session.
The combined session will end with a worship service that includes communion.
While the combined session could be a highlight of Synod 2011, it will impinge on an already tight schedule for CRC delegates. Excluding Sunday, a synod generally has six business days. This year’s synod will start a day earlier, but it will be reduced by half a day due to the combined session with the RCA.
Last year, for several reasons, the CRC synod had only five business days, and delegates complained they were too rushed to do justice to the agenda.
Rev. Gerard Dykstra, executive director of the CRC, acknowledged that. “Time is always a significant issue at synod,” he said.
He noted that this year’s synod will start a day earlier, and the only additional time needed is the actual joint meeting of the two synods for a few hours. The joint worship service will conclude Synod 2011.