Classis Toronto is inviting delegates from each region (classis) in Canada to a forum to be held in Toronto on January 11 and 12, 2013, to talk about the future of ministry in Canada within the Christian Reformed Church.
“C3: Canadian Catalytic Conversation (Canadian Forum 2013)” grew out of an October conversation at the meeting of Classis Toronto that raised questions about what is happening within the denomination and in Canadian ministry. By the end of the conversation, the idea for a forum had passed unanimously.
Classis noted that several processes are underway simultaneously at a denominational level.
- The task force reviewing structure and culture in the denomination, reporting to synod (the church’s annual leadership meeting) in June 2013, is addressing the issue of binationality.
- The CRC’s Board of Trustees has appointed a group to draft a new ministry plan for the denomination.
- Ben Vandezande, appointed as interim director of the CRC’s Canadian ministries following the resignation of Bruce Adema, is mandated to review that position with a report due in April 2013.
Rev. Richard Bodini, spokesperson for the forum organizing committee, said, “We want to give space for Canadians to speak with one voice into the denominational processes that will impact the Canadian portion of the denomination. The core discussion question for this event is ‘What is God calling us to do in our unique Canadian context, and what are the leadership, structure, and strategy(ies) required to do this?’”
Classis noted the perception of some that the Canadian director position lacks influence and standing in the denomination. It also noted that “various leaders within and outside Classis Toronto have expressed concerns about developments that seem to dim the CRC witness in our Canadian context.”
Bodini noted that the forum is intended to be a positive contribution to the task force and planning processes, not to circumvent established structures. “We felt the best way to feed the task force information on binationality from a Canadian perspective was to bring all the Canadian classes together to talk about and to discuss what God is calling us to be/do in our unique Canadian ministry context.”
Asked why the forum needs to happen so quickly, Bodini said, “When the planning team saw all of [these processes] alongside the motion from Classis Toronto, the word kairos flowed into our discussion. This is a kairos moment, the ‘right time’ that no one could have designed. A January 2013 conference would ensure getting Canadian issues into the mix. [The classes] might then have an opportunity to include insights from this event in their own deliberations regarding how to contribute to Synod 2013.”
Each classis in Canada was asked to send a minister, elder, deacon, and young adult to the forum as voting delegates. Additionally, invitations have been extended to Canadian Board of Trustee members, agency directors and ministry leaders in Canada, the denomination’s executive director, and anyone interested in Canadian ministry.