Synod 2014 delegates paid painful and prayerful tribute to Rev. George Vander Weit, a retired minister who long served among them and has been missing for nearly a year.
Vander Weit disappeared July 5, 2013 after going on a bike ride from his home in Rochester, Mich. Several search parties subsequently turned up nothing.
Vander Weit served Christian Reformed congregations for 40 years and was a delegate at more than a dozen synods. He was a champion of women’s ordination and an active speaker on the synod floor.
Rev. David Kromminga of Classis Grand Rapids East, who said he often sat next to Vander Weit at synod, called delegates’ attention to his absence in a trembling voice.
“I learned so much from George, and a lot of us remember George here at synod,” Kromminga said. “George and I had a joke that I would be the bad cop and he would be the worse cop. George deeply cared for this church. And he would speak up even when it was uncomfortable to do so.
“I had this hopeful vision George would come riding his bike here to Pella, Iowa and have a joyful reunion with us.”
Synod president Rev. Scott Greenway called to mind Vander Weit’s wife, Bonnie, and his three sons and daughter. “These things weigh heavy on that family, the church, and his circle of friends and colleagues,” Greenway said.
Elder James Jones of Classis Grand Rapids East led delegates in prayer for their longtime brother in faith.
“We come, Lord, bringing your beloved son and his family before your throne,” Jones prayed. “It grieves our heart to not know where he is, to not know how he’s doing, and to think of what Bonnie and the family are all going through."
“He was such a great teacher. I called him the king of overtures. So he is deeply missed.”
Jones asked God to bring peace and comfort to his family and reveal answers to his mysterious disappearance.
“I ask O Lord that you might give an answer to where George is at. It would warm all of our hearts for him to come riding up on a bike, to come back home. It’s so hard to have closure when you don’t know what has happened.
“May you give us all assurance, Lord, that he is in your care and your hands.”
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.