There was an air of excitement this week at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, as the final preparations for Synod 2012 were taking place. Synod is the annual leadership meeting of the Christian Reformed Church.
From reconstruction of the auditorium stage and installing new wireless internet equipment, to putting together delegate packages and setting up an art exhibit, people were working against the clock right up until delegates began arriving.
This is only the second time that synod has been held in Canada. The last time was in 1999, also at Redeemer. According to Doreen Gringhuis, director of campus services, much has changed since then.
Gringhuis, together with assistant director of campus services Yolanda Bax, have been preparing for this week since they were first informed in 2009 that Synod 2012 would be coming to Canada. The two of them even traveled to Grand Rapids last year to observe Synod 2011 and learn key details to ensure this year’s success.
“One thing that we discovered is that the delegates would prefer more comfortable chairs, so we’re doing our best to take care of those types of details for them,” Gringhuis said. “It’s important to me that this conference goes well, as it will show what we are capable of as a smaller university.”
Although Redeemer is used to hosting larger events than synod, some of the preparations were more intense than a typical conference, due to expectations based on how details, such as rooming assignments and audio-visual needs, have been handled at past synods.
“Because this is only the second year that synod is going completely paperless, one of our biggest challenges was completing the necessary infrastructure improvements to support the IT needs for all the delegates,” Bax explained, adding that some of the equipment didn’t arrive until just this week.
Due to Redeemer’s popularity as a venue to hold conferences, graduations, and other large group events, there was a very tight turnaround time to prepare the building for synod. The stage was constructed and painted off-site and brought in just a few days ago.
One of the biggest events during synod, the president’s picnic, is being held Saturday night. Plans are in place for a completely Canadian experience, from Alberta beef to homegrown corn. Redeemer’s vice presidents will be doing the serving.
“We want them to experience not only Redeemer hospitality, but Canadian hospitality,” Gringhuis said. “Our hope in the end is that the delegates will be impressed, and will see what a wonderful facility and services we offer here.”
Hubert Krygsman, president of Redeemer University College, echoed this sentiment, saying that hosting synod fits well into the college’s mission to be of service to the broader church.
“There is no doubt that the CRC is our biggest support base, and we’re grateful for that. Our hope is that the meetings are fruitful, that the delegates enjoy their stay here, and that their work—the work of the CRC, will be blessed.”