Synod 2013 decided that commissioned pastors should be acknowledged by that title in their churches, and their work on church councils will be limited to their areas of ministry. Until now they have been considered elders. Commissioned pastors are ordained for work only in their own classis.
The change reflects the reality of the functions performed by commissioned pastors, formerly called evangelists and later ministry associates, supporters said.
“In most congregations, the recognition that the person is a pastor has already happened,” said David Koll, director of the CRC Candidacy Committee.
Synod also said that before a commissioned pastor is examined by classis to serve as the solo pastor of an emerging or organized church, that person will need to complete a contextualized learning plan, adopted by classis and approved by the Candidacy Committee. Ordinarily the learning plan would include an introduction to the CRC Church Order, CRC history, CRC ministry, CRC creeds and confessions, Reformed hermeneutics, and an introduction to the discipline and art of preaching.
Though no longer considered elders, commissioned pastors still may go to synod as elder delegates under the approved changes. Only commissioned pastors who are solo pastors of established churches may be delegated as ministers—a rule some opposed.
“I think we do commissioned pastors and emerging churches a disservice by not seating them as pastors at synod,” said Rev. John Bouwers, Classis Toronto.
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.