In dealing with the resignation two months ago of Rev. Gerard Dykstra from the position of executive director of the Christian Reformed Church, Synod 2011acknowledged that handling of personnel issues “at times fell short of good order and grace.”
Synod also offered a public prayer of lament for the pain caused to Dykstra, denominational Board of Trustees (BOT) members, and others, followed by a prayer of thanksgiving for these same people’s work.
Synod heard that Dykstra’s resignation was requested by the BOT following a “thorough and independent performance review.” The ensuing public communication—that Dykstra resigned for “personal and family reasons”—was agreed upon between Dykstra and the denomination’s Board of Trustees, synod was told.
As delegates took up the matter, Synod 2011 president Rev. James Dekker explained that he and the other synod leaders had decided the proceedings were best handled in a public, transparent manner, rather than in closed session. But, he warned, because Dykstra’s case is a personnel matter protected by Michigan labor laws, “if anything is said that impugns private reputation, it will immediately be called out of order.”
Rev. Mark Vermaire: This year’s review included a thorough investigation of organizational structure and culture “because of important issues the Board was dealing with.”
Photo: Karen Huttenga
Rev. Mark Vermaire, president of the BOT, said the executive director’s performance was reviewed by an independent evaluator this past year, as is done every three years.
This year’s review included a thorough investigation of organizational structure and culture “because of important issues the Board was dealing with,” Vermaire said.
Several delegates said they wanted a clearer message on Dykstra’s case to report back to their churches.
“Our congregations are reeling from the effects of what has happened,” said Rev. Tim Kuperus, Classis Grandville. “I am not comfortable with the work that we have in its totality.”
Synod also adopted a statement of appreciation for Dykstra’s contribution to the denomination.
For more coverage while synod is in session, including webcasts, photos, a discussion forum, reports, and more, see the Synod 2011 website.
About the Author
Roxanne VanFarowe is a freelance writer who claims both Canadian and American citizenship and grew up in the Christian Reformed Church. She is a member of Blacknall Presbyterian Church in Durham, North Carolina.