When synod started, young adult representative Nicole Veenkamp had never sent a tweet in her life.
But after following discussions under the hashtag #crcsynod during the first few days of session, she finally created an account.
“I’ve used Twitter as a way to reflect on my experiences at synod, to answer questions and clarify items for people watching synod via webcast, and to highlight moments and decisions of Synod 2013 that I find particularly meaningful,” said Veenkamp, 23.
Almost 50 delegates, spectators, and organizations used the hashtag over the course of the week.
“Twitter makes an excellent tool for quick, real-time discussion. Imagine if all those speaking on the floor had to limit their deliberations to 160 characters,” she quipped.
Rev. Alex Snider, Classis Northern Michigan, used Twitter as a way to meet fellow delegates.
“The other night at supper, a gentleman kept checking his phone and then looking at me,” said Snider. “After a few times, he introduced himself and asked if I was one of the delegates tweeting from the floor. He had seen my Twitter profile picture. I recognized him too. We had supper together that night.”
Others used Twitter as a way to learn more about important issues or synodical procedure.
“It’s like I’m in class and the teacher has given me the tools and the permission to pass notes in an on-task sort of way,” explained elder James Heethuis, Classis Grandville. “With Twitter, I can observe people’s color commentary as well as the play-by-play.”
Many tweeters, like seminary student Jeemin Lee from New York, participated even though they weren’t physically at synod.
“I’ve been able to interact with many people across the continent whom I have not even met,” said Lee.
But some pointed out shortcomings of the social media site.
“The immediacy of being able to tweet something as soon as you think of it is not as conducive to the formulation of the carefully-articulated arguments presented verbally on the floor of synod,” said Veenkamp.
Veenkamp is looking ahead to possibilities to expand the use of Twitter to synod.
“If the Board of Trustees were to revisit the structure and operation of synod, might there be a way to incorporate a tool like Twitter in the deliberation process?” she said.
Synod 2013 is meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. from June 7-14. For continuous Banner coverage of Synod 2013, please follow The Banner on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted at www.thebanner.org several times daily. For CRC Communications releases, webcast, and live blogging, please visit www.crcna.org/synod. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.