“I propose that we build a memorial,” said Rev. Peter Borgdorff, as 12 people piled up 12 large stones in front of the stage at Vermeer Pavilion in Pella, Iowa.
The occasion was the Service of Praise of Synod 2014. Delegates from the synods of both the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America, as well as members of the community, brought attendance to 1,700. The service took place about 24 hours after a joint session of the synods of both churches adopted a resolution pledging to work together in all things except those in which deep differences of conviction compel separate action.
“I want you to think about what the memorial is about,” Borgdorff said after the stones were piled up. “Last night when the two synods were in joint session and we passed a resolution that we are committed to be message bearers together . . . part of our privilege is to be disciples of the one who is mighty. So often we think it depends mostly on us, that we have to be obedient and devout. The result is that we make ourselves the center of our reference. If we turn that around, in building a memorial we confess that we are the children of God, called to be his disciples, loved by him, embraced by him, sent by him because he has a message worth sharing.”
Borgdorff told those gathered that when we recall the mighty acts of God in the memorials, it is not about what we have done and what we have committed to, but that we want to tell the story of what God is doing. “He loves us, accepts us with our shortcomings, our insensitivities, and also accepts us with our commitments, with our ears listening and our eyes open. He accepts us in that spirit too, so that we can face the future together in the confidence of knowing God cares, and he will lead.”
The service was led by people from both denominations. Borgdorff is from the CRC, and the liturgy was led by Rev. Liz Testa, an RCA pastor from the New York area. Worship included a choir made up of RCA seminarians and CRC young adult representatives to synod.
“I’m grateful to be part of this fellowship,” he said. “I hope you are too. I’m grateful that together we are part of a multitude that no one can number, of generations before us who told us the meaning of these stones, that prepares us to tell the story to our children and our grandchildren. It’s a story worth telling, found in the work and sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Blessed be his marvelous deeds.”
Synod 2014 is meeting at Central College in Pella, Iowa, from June 13-19. For continuous Banner coverage, 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.