“A New Day” in Canadian Ministry

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Synod 2000 (the annual leadership meeting of the CRC) adopted a report on denominational governance structure that included a restructuring of the denomination’s Board of Trustees (BOT). When the Canadian Ministries Board was folded into the BOT that year, half of the board’s membership of 30 was to come from the Canadian side of the denomination. It was to be known legally as the CRCNA-Canada Corporation, or, as it has become known, Canada Corp.

Within the larger BOT, Synod 2000 declared that the Canadian trustees “be responsible for all specific ‘in Canada’ functions that cannot be or ought not be the responsibility of a synodical binational Board” (Acts of Synod 2000, p. 623).

At the February 2014 BOT meeting, a broader interpretation of what Synod 2000 decided was put forward by the Canada Corp. The recommendations adopted by the full board “affirm the direction for the CRCNA-Canada Corporation outlined in the ‘Governance Proposal’ to Synod 2000 as the interpretation of the meaning of ‘in Canada’ functions that ought to be done by the CRCNA-Canada Corporation.” That includes “providing strategic advice based on judgments about the cultural appropriateness of existing programs in Canada” and “ensuring that outcomes from national conferences are incorporated into denominational ministry plans with appropriate accountability.”

The new approach “includes regular gatherings of Canadians to focus on the future of the CRC in Canada specifically, a voice in setting priorities for all ministries in Canada, and input into the budget from Canadian perspective,” said Kathy Vandergrift, president of Canada Corp. and vice president of the full BOT.

Vandergrift said that the changes parallel an expanded role for the Canadian Ministries Director. “That helps to make this a ‘new day’ for CRC ministry in Canada,” she said.

About the Author

Gayla Postma retired as news editor for The Banner in 2020.

See comments (2)


Please forgive the cynicism. It's been 14 years. Despite all noble intentions on the part of the BOT, and efforts within the structure of the BOT to hear that Canadian voice, that stronger voice does not translate into a stronger voice at synod. Three-quarters of the delegates to synod are Americans who may or may not embrace "the Canadian voice." While Canadians may have "a voice" (aptly worded) in setting priorities for all ministries in Canada, they do not have a majority voice when it comes to making those decisions at synod.

Unless the denominational structure is changed -- the creation of regional synods, for example -- the Canadian churches continue to remain a minority spouse in this bi-national marriage.

While I applaud Kathy Vandergrift's enthusiasm for "a new day in bi-national relations", I need to see evidence of that change at June's meeting of synod in Pella. Unless American delegates to synod recognize and embrace the cultural diversity that is Canada, all of the restructuring at the BOT means absolutely nothing.

Keith has good cause to be skepical. What the March 27th press release fails to mention is that there is a very strong contingency of Canadians on each of the CRCNA ministry Boards. In my 7 years on one of those Boards I can assure you the Canadian voice was heard. Legally each Ministry has a Canadian arm and Canadian financial reports.  But this is not well known and the above press release simply makes that clear. For tax purposes (in Canada) each of the CRCNA entities in Canada need a comprehensive Joint Ministry Agreement to say exactly where "Canada's" money goes. This is still a work in  progress from what I understand.  How the Director of Canadian Ministries can get involved in each of these (at least 5 agreements) complex agreements is not clear to me. He or she will have to depend on the Canadian representatives on each of those Boards to be in  tune with what the churches in Canada want.  On the assumption that each Board has at least 5 Canadians on it (I believe it to be more) that means there are at least 25 Canadian voices that can impact the effect the CRCNA ministries will have on Canada. The BOT can actually be a hinderance on that process if they have a desire to control rather than lead.

How this all plays out on the floor of synod is, like Keith mentions, the real question. I believe all the Ministry Directors are advisors to Synod and I believe they are sensitive to what both Canadians and Americans are saying at THEIR Board meetings. After all this is the Lord's work and at some point we should accept the collective wisdom. (The Spirit at work?)